It’s No Christkindlmarket, But the Yuletide Festival Brings Cheer on a Smaller Scale


After playing host to Christkindlmarket for three years, Naperville’s Naper Settlement is hosting a new holiday tradition for 2019: the Yuletide Festival. My family checked out the fest on its opening weekend to see how it compared — and to sample the hot cocoa, of course.

Our Review of the 2019 Yuletide Festival in Naperville

At first glance, the Yuletide Festival has a lot in common with the Christkindlmarkets of Christmases past. You’ll find treats like pierogies, bratwurst, hot chocolate, and glühwein. Vendors sell traditional treats and homemade goods. Naper Settlement looks beautiful decked out in lights and holiday finery.

But there’s one huge difference, and that is… Yuletide Festival isn’t huge. The whole scale of the event is much smaller. One large tent hosts artisans selling handmade goods. There’s also a row of about five food vendors, plus a heated tent selling drinks.

For my family, the best part was the uncrowded, relaxed mood. We arrived a few hours into opening night and didn’t stand in a single line, despite sampling the homemade pierogi (amazing!), hot cocoa (sadly just Swiss Miss), and cookies (delightful).

S’mores kits are available for $3, which you can take over to closed fire pits surrounded by Adirondack-style chairs.

Throughout opening weekend, crowds stayed low, so it seems like the Yuletide Festival will be a safe bet for a low-key, family-friendly outing. Check the special event schedule for live music, princess meet & greets, and more.

It’s also worth strolling the Riverwalk while you’re there to catch the Naper Lights displays on Water street; if you cross the river and look across at the restaurants, you’ll see a dazzling light show set to music and complete with singing Christmas trees.

The Yuletide Festival runs Fridays from 2pm – 10pm, Saturdays from 11am – 10pm, and Sundays from 11am – 8pm through December 22.

Looking for more family festivities? Our holiday fun guide is an amazing resource for events going on in towns like Naperville, Bolingbrook, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Elmhurst . . . and beyond!

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