The Christkindl Market: The last old-fashioned place on earth

Denver's not generally known for its old-world charm. We've gone straight from cowtown to modern city, it seems, and even our perception of "old-fashioned" has been contemporized for an urban audience. At Christmastime, though, there's at least one tradition here that's fiercely old-world, and that's the come-and-go Christkindl Market, which is so old-world that it's completely corny. But we love that corniness, which comes with a bonus ice rink where you can skate for free (if you bring your own skates; otherwise, there's a small charge). The market, which opened for business in downtown's Skyline Park over the weekend, just in time for the city's Grand Illumination, specializes in the sentimental and the rustic: European pastries and artisan breads, stunning panels of German lace, authentic German Biersteins, wooden candle pyramids, hand-carved Russian Santa dolls and more; German food also abounds, from bratwurst to strudel.

Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (with extended hours during the Parade of Lights on December 2 and 3), Christkindl will be ready for shoppers -- and fans of old-world kitsch -- daily through December 23.

The Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, an entity all its own but adjacent to the market, will remain open daily through Valentine's Day, including both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Skate rentals are $2; visit the Downtown Denver Partnership's website for details.

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