January 18, 2016

10 Interview Tips for Green Card, Visa Applicants

10 Interview Tips for Green Card, Visa Applicants



1. Dress for Occasion

It is very important to dress correctly for an interview. The first impression the officer will have of you is how you look, so if you look clean and professional that is the impression they will get.


2. Do Not Create Complications
Be respectful to everyone that you encounter since you walk through the door of the USCIS building. Do not cause any trouble for the guards and do not bring anything that might be dangerous or not needed during the interview.
3. Show Up On Time
Showing up on time is key when coming in for an interview. If you are late the officer might be irritated by the time you come and might not give you the decision you want. You need to put your best foot forward. One rule that interviewers share is always be 15 minutes earlier than your appointment. 



4. Put Your Cell Phone Away 
Cell Phones are a big part of our lives, but during an interview with an officer is not the best time to have your phone beeping and going off. Not only does it distract you, it also distracts the officer, and attorney. It is also considered rude and disrespectful, so just put it away. 



5. Wait For Your Attorney
Waiting for your attorney is important, they will be able to discuss the case with you and help you during the interview. 



6. Relax and Be Confident 
It is a very stressful time while you are going, waiting and having the interview but remember that you already made it this far into the process, take a deep breath relax and be confident in yourself. Officer and other interviewers can tell when a person is nervous and not confident and as a result makes them uncomfortable and nervous too. 



7. Listen to the Officers Questions and Instructions
During the interview you will need to answer questions that the officer asks, answer those questions honestly. If you do not understand a question ask your attorney or interpreter to explain the question to you. 



8. Bring an Interpreter (if you have too) 
If your English is not god enough to understand on your own, bring a interpreter. It does not mean the officer will penalize you for brining someone. They are just their to help you with words and sentences you do not understand. 



9. Tell the Truth 
Always tell the truth, especially when applying for a green card or visa. The more honest you are the easier and faster the interview will be. Lying causes more strain for you and other people around you. It also creates a possibility of the officer finding out the truth and that can affect your green card, visa decision. 



10. Be Yourself  
Being yourself will make the interview and experience more pleasant, do not pretend to be someone you are not because it is putting on an act, act like yourself and be happy during this process, no matter how stressful it is. 


January 16, 2016

Over 4.5 Million Are Waiting for Green Cards—Over 100,000 of them are Employment-Based

Over 4.5 Million Are Waiting for Green Cards—Over 100,000 of them are Employment-Based

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Department of State (DOS) recently published its annual report of immigrant visa applicants (2015 Annual Immigrant Visa Report), which tallies up the number of total applicants—including spouses and children—who are waiting for their respective priority date to become current, allowing for them to obtain their green card. The annual report, which totals the number of applicants up to Nov. 1, 2015, does not take into account those applicants who have adjustment of status applications pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of Nov. 1.
Overall, 2015 saw a three precent increase of total applicants compared against last year, increasing from a total of 4,422,660 for 2014 to 4,556,021 for 2015. This total includes both family-based green cards and employment-based green cards. Employment-based green card applicants only accounted for roughly 100,000 of the 4.5 million. When compared against 2014, the percentage of employment-based applicants waiting to apply for their green cards increased from 90,910 to 100,747—an increase of 10.8 percent.
While a 10.8 percent increase seems like a marginal increase, examining specific categories individually reveals that certain categories—namely Employment First, Second, and Fifth—have grown in popularity with employers and investors. Employment First encompasses green card applications for aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers, and multi-national managers or executives. From 2014 to 2015, the Employment First category saw an increase of 27.1 percent on the waiting list, from 2,733 to 3,474. Employment Second is reserved for Aliens of Exceptional Ability, which is measured by positions that require a U.S. Master’s degree (or higher), or a Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive experience.  In 2015, there was an increase of 36.5 percent for Employment Second, with 11,440 on the waiting list as opposed to 8,380 in 2014. Finally, Employment Fifth is reserved for investors and entrepreneurs who invest substantial capital into the U.S. economy, among other requirements. Employment Fifth saw the greatest increase from 2014 to 2015—175.2 percent. The specific wait list numbers, broken down by category, are below:
Employment-based Preferences for Visas

At first glance, the 140,000 of expected employment-based green card approvals this year seems like it would clear the existing backlog of green card applications of 100,747 left from 2015, but this is not the case because there is a seven percent per-country limit, which visa issuances to any single country, including China and India, cannot exceed. What this looks like for applicants from countries such as China and India is that the wait for green cards will only increase, absent legislative or executive action.
Reviewing the 2015 Annual Immigrant Visa Report by country reveals that India and China remain the world’s largest applicants across each Employment Category, a trend that will likely continue into 2016. For Employment First, China represents more than 25 percent of all applicants, with India coming in a distant second at 9.6 percent.


Over 4.5 Million Are Waiting for Green Cards—Over 100,000 of them are Employment-Based 

Employment First Preference Category by Country
For Employment Second, India accounts for a two-thirds of all applicants at 66.8 percent; China, on the other hand, accounts for only 7.8 percent, falling just behind South Korea at 8.4 percent.
Employment Second Preference Category by Country
For Employment Fifth, China leads the applicant-pool with 89.6 percent of all applications.  The next two countries—Hong Kong S.A.R., and Vietnam, only account for 1.4 percent each.
Employment Fifth Preference Category by Country
For 2016, approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards are projected to be approved, meaning that the wait will continue for most of the 100,747 who are already waiting for their priority date to become current so that they can obtain their green cards. As the U.S. economy continues to rebound, it is safe to assume that only more applicants, especially from India and China, will continue to apply for employment-based green cards in the higher preference categories—Employment First, Second, and Fifth—where the wait is shorter as compared to Employment Third and Fourth, reserved for skilled workers, and special immigrants, respectively.

January 12, 2016

Playboy Mansion hits real estate market with $200 million price tag

Playboy Mansion hits real estate market with $200 million price tag


LOS ANGELES — Playboy Enterprises has listed the iconic Playboy Mansion for $200 million. But there’s a catch: Hef is included in the deal. Amenities at the 20,000 square foot, 29-room party palace include a catering kitchen, wine cellar, home theater, gym, tennis court and swimming pool with a “large, cave-like grotto.”
HOLMBY HILLS, CA – MAY 6: (L to R) Playboy bunny Sheila Levell, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny Holly Madison perform a scene during the filming of a commercial for “X Games IX” at the Playboy Mansion May 6, 2003 in Holmby Hills, California. This year’s X Games will take place at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles from August 14th through 18th. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – AUGUST 03: A general view of the atmosphere during Hugh Hefner’s annual Midsummer Night’s Dream party held at the Playboy Mansion on August 3, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)


There’s also a separate “game house” and a four-bedroom guest home. The mansion “is one of a select few private residences in L.A. with a zoo license,” according to the property’s realtors.
Hugh Hefner, famous for his in-house bunny harem and wild celebrity-studded parties, will remain a resident. The elderly founder of Playboy Magazine must be allowed to live at the mansion for the rest of his life, according to the sale terms.






January 11, 2016

Woman whose immigration journey was chronicled in The Star gets green card

Woman whose immigration journey was chronicled in The Star gets green card



A Ventura County woman whose immigration struggles have been chronicled by The Star since February 2013 has received her green card approval.
Blanca Terre, now 25 and an Oxnard resident, got OK'd Dec. 23 for the documentation that allows her to live in the United States permanently. She had previously spent thousands of dollars and, since 2012, pursued multiple avenues in her quest.
"It's very rewarding to have someone complete their immigration journey and get legal status," said Terre's immigration lawyer, Mackenzie Mackins, "because I know it will change their life."
Terre, whose husband Marc is a U.S. citizen, has lived in California since she illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at age 11. Her mother had died that year from cancer, Terre previously told The Star. She was living in a rough environment with five siblings at the time, her father having left years earlier.
When The Star first interviewed Terre — early stories used only her middle name — she was one of an estimated 71,000 undocumented Ventura County residents. She had graduated from high school, was a taxpaying dental assistant and had married a U.S. citizen but lived in constant fear.
Over the course of four stories, the last in June 2014, there were ups and downs. Terre was OK'd to work, drive and receive temporary protection from deportation through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for example. But she hit roadblock when a so-called "unlawful presence" waiver was denied.
Terre originally met Mackins, of Mackins & Mackins LLP in Sherman Oaks, through the Conejo Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks, which offers some free immigration counseling. She eventually became a client, Mackins said.
The approach that ultimately proved successful involved "advance parole." Terre was given permission to travel to Mexico to see her sick grandmother, Mackins said. Her return to Los Angeles International Airport then marked a legal entry to the United States.
"With that legal entry and with a U.S. citizen for a husband, she was able to finally get a green card," Mackins said.
Other factors, such as Terre's high school diploma and having never gotten in trouble with the law, played a part. The advance parole approach involves risk because entry back to the U.S. isn't guaranteed, Mackins said.
After three years with the green card, Terre can file to become a U.S. citizen after passing an exam, she said. In the meantime, she plans to take classes at Oxnard College and eventually become a dental hygienist.
Terre said she feels happy and relieved and is grateful she found Mackins.
"She gets everything done, and everything is so clear with her," Terre said. "She will tell you exactly what is going on.”


January 2, 2016

Business Insider : 8 Ways To Look Like A Millionaire, Even If You're Not



8 Ways To Look Like A Millionaire, Even If You're Not

20th Century Fox
The last thing image consultant Sylvie di Giusto wants to hear from someone considering a makeover is, "I don't have the money for this." To her, equating looking good with having money is based on a false assumption.
Regardless of how much you make, it's easy to project an air of power and confidence commonly associated with the wealthy, as long as you focus on the right things.
Di Giusto worked in human resources for more than 20 years before becoming an image consultant in 2009. Her company, Executive Image Consulting, has worked with executives looking to improve how they present themselves and professionals looking to rise up the corporate hierarchy. She also gives dress code consulting to corporations, which have included McKinsey, BMW, and Thomas Cook, according to her website.
With inspiration from Vicky Oliver's book "The Millionaire's Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You're Not," we asked di Giusto how anyone could look like a millionaire, regardless of their net worth. Here's what she said, with some of Oliver's advice thrown in:

Invest wisely by using the one-third rule.

Every man should have at least one good suit, and every woman should have at least one good jacket with matching pants or a skirt. Di Giusto recommends that these "investment pieces" should feel expensive, but that for her clients, "The more they make, the more they have to invest."
She clarifies that professionals can "shop smart," as long as they don't skimp on quality. She recommends visiting designer outlets, as well as online equivalents, like The Outnet and Gilt.
In her book, Oliver recommends sticking to the "one-third rule": Buy "one-third as many clothes as you do now, but spend three times as much on each item." So instead of buying three pairs of pants at average prices, buy one pair of expensive pants and wear them everywhere.

Consider every detail, down to your iPhone case.

Di Giusto remembers a job applicant she interviewed when she worked for a German company. The interviewee looked great and said all the right things. At the interview's conclusion, he took out his iPhone to schedule a follow up. As he edited his calendar, di Giusto noticed an offensive word emblazoned on his phone's case, and in that moment she found herself questioning everything she previously thought about him. She ended up hiring him, but he almost invalidated a great first impression with a careless oversight.
"If you're serious about your image, you need to be aware that it goes far beyond your suit," di Giusto said. That means realizing that your desk, your accessories, and even your smartphone's case need to be an extension of your professional image.

Conform your style to your industry, but allow one "statement piece."

It should be evident that regardless of your company's dress code, there's a general way that people dress according to industry. Di Giusto recommends that for the most part, you should not try too hard to distinguish yourself. If you work in finance, dress conservatively; if you work in tech, go for casual chic. A good rule of thumb is to dress the way your company's executives do.
That said, di Giusto doesn't want her clients to turn into boring clones of each other. She recommends one flexible statement piece appropriate for the workplace. For example, di Giusto has a pair of unique eyeglasses she likes to wear with business attire. She also mentioned a CEO who dresses the part in traditional dark suits, but has them lined with flashy pink or floral patterns.

Understand that "casual" does not mean "sloppy."

The problem with casual, said di Giusto, is that unlike "formal," it has never been properly defined.
"Many people think casual means that you don't have to care," di Giusto said. Instead, casual should mean that just a few pieces of your business attire are different. She pointed to President Barack Obama, whose usual definition of casual is taking off his jacket and tie and rolling up his sleeves. You can go a step further and replace slacks with a nice pair of well-fitting jeans, but don't deviate too far from typical business attire.
Di Giusto says one of her rules for casual is that it can be quickly dressed up. For example, bring a jacket on Casual Friday. Then, if an important meeting pops up, you can throw it on.

Less is more with cologne or perfume.

The scent you apply should never be so strong that it distracts someone from what you are saying.
"The moment you smell your fragrance, you know you're wearing too much," said di Giusto. Interestingly, she said that this advice does not apply everywhere, since in places like Italy or France, it is customary to liberally use cologne or perfume. But Americans should keep their fragrance application subtle, said di Giusto.

Never let a "flaw" undermine your confidence.

The key to projecting an air of power is being self-confident. And the worst thing for self-confidence is having a nagging thought about a flaw in your appearance. No one may notice the missing button on your jacket, but as soon as you start worrying about it, your behavior may unconsciously draw attention to it, said di Giusto. Likewise, if one day you wake up and decide your teeth aren't white enough, others may start to agree.
Whatever the issue, either accept it or make the necessary adjustment. Because if you're not comfortable with yourself, you're not going to look your best.

Dress to appear taller.

Powerful people take up space. "Subconsciously, we seek leaders who are tall because we associate height with authority," Oliver says in her book.
So if you're lacking this advantage naturally, you can create the illusion of height. Examiner recommends women wear heels that are not booties or "strappy" around the ankle, and AskMen suggests that men opt for dark colors to project power. Both advise that shorter people go for form-fitting clothes and monochromatic outfits.

Get enough sleep for radiant skin.

And finally, you should properly adjust your sleep schedule to have healthy, glowing skin. Oliver recommends spending several days keeping track of how many hours you slept in relation to how productive you were the following day.
"Once you determine your ideal number of sleep hours, try to get the same amountconsistently, even on the weekends. Force yourself to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day," she writes.

December 26, 2015

NEW YEAR'S EVE 2015 Party s Events Miami Beach South Beach Florida

By: Shaneeva Yassin
A city renowned for its world class nightlife, a dining scene on the rise and beautiful beaches and cityscapes as far as the eye can see, ringing in the New Year in Miami is a no brainer—not to mention that the average high temperature in December and January is a balmy 75 degrees. When it comes to throwing the biggest bash of the year, no other city can compete with the celebrities and entertainers that choose Miami to ring in the New Year.
Whether it’s family friendly and free or VIP all the way, Miami’s got you covered for a stellar celebration. Read on for our guide to the best fireworks, free events, restaurants and parties to ring in 2016.

FREE & FUN WAYS TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR

If you’re here with your family or a group of friends and you’re looking for a free and entertaining way to celebrate the New Year, Miami’s got you covered with parties downtown in Bayfront Park and in South Beach.
Ring in the New Year with Mr.305 and Florida ambassador himself, Pitbull, at Bayfront Park. Pitbull’s New Year’s Eve Revolution 2015 is from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and include a dance party, fireworks and a countdown  to midnight with Pitbull as the “The Big Orange” ascends to the top of the adjacent InterContinental Miami hotel.
Looking to celebrate on South Beach? Join the City of Miami Beach New Year's Eve Celebration, and party on the beach at 9th Street and Ocean Drive. Enjoy free fireworks at midnight.
Party to the tunes of Robin Schultz, Dave Sol and Marcos Noel as you welcome 2016 at the 3rd Annual Five Star New Year's Eve party. The event begins at 10 p.m., but party the night (and morning) away until 5 a.m. Your ticket includes a premium New Year’s Eve cocktail dinner, live entertainment and fireworks show, a selection of high-end drinks, including vodka, champagne and whisky, breakfast and more.  

DINING OUT

Many of Miami’s best restaurants throw their own New Year’s Eve celebrations with prix fixe menus, Champagne and entertainment. Often, they’ll host two seatings with special menus. The early seating (usually around 7 p.m.) is perfect if you’ve got a different party to get to later. The late seating (around 9 p.m.) often includes a more lavish package along with a Champagne toast and festivities at midnight.
There are innumerable dining options in Miami and many of the best restaurants are located inside hotels. It’s New Year’s Eve! Why not treat yourself to dishes created by the best in the industry? Miami’s notable celeb chef restaurants are a must. The Fontainebleau’s list of restaurants will no doubt be a hot reservation for New Year’s Eve. Other great hotel restaurants for New Year’s Eve include The Dutch at the W Hotel South Beach, DB Bistro Moderne at the JW Marriott and Zuma or Area 31 at the Epic Hotel, Beachcraft at 1 Hotel South Beach.
Memorable dining options outside of hotels include Meat Market on Lincoln Road, Smith & Wollensky overlooking the harbor and Baoli on South Beach for a true party vibe.
It’s a NYE 2015 Feast at The Federal Food, Drinks & Provisions. Their New Year’s Eve Feast is inspired by the new year allegory and festivities. Make reservations from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Enjoy a multi-course meal, including a glass of champagne, complimentary midnight champagne toast and gold coins for good luck.
For a dinner and party with a great view book reservations at The Rusty Pelican“Toast to 2016” by dining at the restaurant and enjoying a five-course meal and a bottle of Perrier Jouet to savor as you watch the fireworks from your table. Party well into the new year at their “Masquerade Gala 2016” black tie event held at the Grand Ballroom. Enjoy spectacular views of the city lights and an extravagant buffet and beverage selections all in a grand style setting of music, lights and star appearances.
Ring in the New Year with glamour and style at the Biltmore’s New Year’s Eve 2015 Gala. The festivities begin at 8:30 p.m. with doors opening to the ballroom for dinner.  The DJ will be spinning lounge style music for the arrival of guests. Enjoy an exquisite four-course dinner presented along with a Premium Open Bar and a Champagne Toast at the stroke of Midnight. At midnight, fireworks will light up the sky over the golf course and cigars will be hand rolled on the Terrace.  Guests celebrating at the hotel's restaurants, Fontana or Palm d’or, may purchase entry to the gala at a discounted rate, but are not guaranteed seating.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive experience you’ll enjoy the Catalina Hotel’s Havana Nights NYE Party, hosted by actor Steve Bauer. For $95 guests enjoy a premium open bar, gourmet buffet, sushi & raw bar, champagne toast as they dance the night away to the tunes of multiple DJs and a special performance by Spam AllStars and musical guest Jorge Moreno.  

PARTY PEOPLE

The Clevelander South Beach is hosting their NYE|2015 party where the Clevelander transforms into a futuristic wonderland, complete with “sexy LED robot girls and crazy light displays.” Those who know how to party know about this Miami hotspot. When the clock strikes 12, enjoy the view of Miami Beach fireworks.  Purchase tickets and bottle packages for multiple events, including general admission,  SPF4’s Sun Deck with open bar from 9 p.m.-12 a.m. or C-Level Roof Top Terrace with open bar from 9 p.m.-12 a.m.
Want to party in an ‘It’s So Miami’ way? Then Nikki Beach’s Glitz and Glam is the party to attend. Count down to the new year on the sand with this soiree! Enjoy Signature Nikki Beach Entertainment, a New York-style ball drop, complimentary champagne toast and party favors and more. General admission tickets are available. VIP table packages and dinner packages are also available. Guests interested in booking bottle and table service are highly encouraged to do so in advance.
Party in a 'So Miami' way with the Weeknd & Kygo at the Fontainebleau Poolside. General admission at $275 includes premium bar from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. or party like a rock star with their VIP table packages. 
For the golden experience, get your tickets to Eve of Midas, “a golden evening of decadence. The event , held at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, features live performances and music by Chris Valencia & Malone and an open bar until 1 a.m. Attire: “Gold” Miami Chic.  
Other New Year's Eve parties with marquee names are a must to attend, and many more will be announced as the date approaches. Tickets can be bought directly from the venue or through major New Year’s Eve ticketing websites, including wantickets.com.
Of course, you don’t need a headliner to ring in the New Year, and more moderately priced parties can be found at a variety of hotels like the Delano, Shore Club, Mondrian or Ritz-Carlton South Beach and at nightclubs, like Club 50 at the Viceroy, LIV at the Fontainebleau, Story and Mango’s.
It’s a good idea to coordinate your plans so that all of your stops for the night are close to one another and it will be a short trip between your hotel, dinner and your party of choice. 
Don't forget, many restaurants are also offering a "Hangover Brunch" on New Year's Day. Happy New Year! 

TRANSPORTATION

Partying responsibly is always a must. Plan your transportation ahead of time. Miami-Dade Transit accommodates the public with its holiday schedule for Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover. 


Best New Year’s Eve Parties In New York City

Best New Year’s Eve Parties In New York City


Best New Year’s Eve Parties In New York City
People cheer as the ball drops at midnight in Times Square on Jan. 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images)
The most glamorous night of the year in one of the most glamorous cities on earth happens only once a year. Sure, you can pretend you don’t like going out and partying on New Year’s Eve, and you can stay home and eat popcorn. But come on, this is New York City! Get dressed, get out there and get dancing. 2016 is calling your name!
The Griffin50 Gansevoort St.
New York, NY  10014
(212) 255-6676
www.thegriffinny.com
An opulent ode to the gilded age in the heart of the Meatpacking District, New Year’s Eve at The Griffin is an elegant, five-hour affair, complete with a premium open bar and a live DJ. Light fare will be served early on, and favors will be provided right before midnight. Tickets range in price from general admission at $99 to platinum VIP at $199. After-eve tickets are also available for the party-hopping set. All tickets can be purchased on The Griffin’s website.
Cielo18 Little W. 12th St.
New York, NY  10014
(646) 543-8556
www.cieloclub.com
New York’s premiere, ever-chic dance club presents its annual New Year’s masquerade bash, featuring the underground, electronic sounds of Sleepy & Boo from New Year’s Eve clear through to 10:00 p.m. on New Year’s Day. General admission early bird tickets include a free champagne toast at $60 each. Tables can also be reserved on request. Known for an unparalleled, state-of-the-art sound system, New Year’s Eve at Cielo is an unending throb fest.
O’Donoghue’s Pub & Restaurant156 W. 44th St.
New York, NY  10036
(212) 997-2262
www.odpubnyc.com
Smack in the middle of the biggest New Year’s Eve party on the planet, O’Donoghue’s in Times Square consists of equal parts cozy, relaxed and festive. The only dancing you’ll do here will be in the street when the New Year’s Eve Ball drops. But wait until you taste the food! The kitchen boasts a special, New Year’s Eve prix fixe menu at $51.95, starting with velvety carrot ginger bisque and ending with red velvet or black and white mousse cake. The melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon you’ll enjoy in the middle is pretty good, too.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise Aboard The Jewel YachtSkyport Marina
2430 FDR Drive
New York, NY 10010
www.newyearscruise.com
Enjoy Manhattan’s skyline, New York City landmarks and an explosive fireworks display from the deck of the glittering Jewel Yacht. Multiple dance floors and DJs offer up an unending dance party to today’s top music. An open bar will be available, plus a simple, Southern-style dinner (barbecue chicken and mac ‘n cheese, anyone?) will be served buffet style all night long. General admission tickets priced at $119 can be purchased on the website.
Marquee NYC289 10th Ave.
New York, NY  10001
(646) 473-0202
www.marqueeny.com
If you’re not dressed up for this party, you’re not getting in. New Year’s at Marquee is an unending blowout with a premium open bar, a good choice of tasty hors d’oeuvres and an all out, dance till you drop party. If you can’t get enough of the ball drop, you can watch the live feed between dance sets. Ticket prices are subject to change.

December 22, 2015

10Best: German Christmas markets in U.S. cities

10Best: German Christmas markets in U.S. cities

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Forget shopping malls — more people are finding the Christmas spirit in German holiday markets, where vendors sell traditional crafts and foods. “You walk along aside these tents and you feel the spirit. The spices that waft through the air with the roasted almonds. It’s almost picture-perfect,” says Arnim von Friedeburg, who runs Germanfoods.org. The holiday tradition is based on a market in Nuremberg, Germany, dating from the 16th century, but the gatherings have crossed the Atlantic. Friedeburg, a native of Cologne, shares some favorite markets with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
Christkindlmarket Chicago
One of the nation’s oldest German holiday markets celebrates its 20th season this year. More than one million visitors stop by the downtown Daley Plaza location during its holiday run. A special Kinder Club offers activities for children, including a scavenger hunt and life-size advent calendar. “It’s the most authentic Christmas market I know,” von Friedeburg says. Open daily through Dec. 24. christkindlmarket.com
Christmas Village, Philadelphia
This popular market attracts crowds to JFK Park, noted for the iconic statue spelling out L-O-V-E. Highlights include a heated garden serving mulled wine, daily concerts and a German grill serving favorites like bratwursts, Belgian fries and strudel. “They’ve been there a long time, and it lasts a whole month,” von Friedeburg says. Runs through Dec. 27. philachristmas.com
Downtown Holiday Market, Washington
Now in its 11th year, the D.C. market may attract as many as 100,000 shoppers in a weekend, who find everything from fine crafts to imported snacks. Von Friedeburg exhibits there, selling traditional German foods, including hard-to-find sweets. Open daily through Dec. 23. downtownholidaymarket.com
Denver Christkindl Market
Organizers expect 175,000 people will visit this daily market during its season run, which is now in its 15th year. Located at Skyline Park at the city’s 16th Street Mall, the event features a skating rink with a warming tent, serving warm wine and hot chocolate. There are also numerous appearances from Santa, known here as St. Nikolaus. Runs through Dec. 23. denverchristkindlmarket.com
Epcot, Walt Disney World ResortLake Buena Vista, Fla.
Von Friedeburg was surprised by the authenticity and quality of the Germany Pavilion at the Walt Disney World park. “I expected fake tacky German imitations, but they showcase a whole lot of German products you can’t find in other stores." He also was charmed by the young German workers. “The spirit was quite authentic, and usually I’m very critical.” 407-824-4321; disneyworld.disney.go.com
See how the Disney parks celebrate Christmas:
Columbus Circle Holiday Market, New York
This large market, with more than 100 vendors selling crafts from around the globe, has become a popular New York Christmas tradition. Its location at the southwest entrance to Central Park makes it popular for holiday visitors. “What I saw in New York was quite astonishing. It’s very artistic,” von Friedeburg says. Open daily through Dec. 24. urbanspacenyc.com
Alpine Village Christmas Faire, Torrance, Calif.
This year-round shopping, dining and entertainment area goes all-out for the holidays, bringing the traditional German Christmas spirit to balmy Southern California with decorations, crafts, a train ride and snow. “They have really authentic German stuff,” von Friedeburg says. “It’s getting very close to the spirt of Germany.” Held the first three weekends of December. alpinevillagecenter.com
Alpine Village, in Torrance, Calif., brings a bit of Germany to their holiday celebration going on weekends through Christmas. Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, Cincinnati
The Ohio River city has a deep German heritage and a huge Oktoberfest. Four years ago it added a Christmas market, and the event has become one of the city’s top holiday celebrations. The market, held downtown in Fountain Square, is designed as a traditional European village with half-timbered homes. It features crafts, entertainment, traditional holiday sweets, hot spiced wine and German beer. Held Friday through Sunday through Dec. 20. cincideutsch.com
Tomball (Texas) German Christmas Market & Festival
This Houston-area gathering, running Dec. 11-13, has all the traditional German market favorites, from mulled wine to bratwurst to Christmas stollen bread, along with fair foods like corn dogs and barbecue. Kids flock to the Kinderfest children’s play area, and four music stages feature German-style performers, while other musicians roam through the crowds. tomballgermanfest.org/christmas-market
Christkindlmarkt, Helen, Ga.
This northeast Georgia town in the Blue Ridge Mountains attracts visitors year-round for its alpine village scenery, with gingerbread trim, cobblestone streets and towers. Over the first two weekends of December, its Marktplatz fills with crafts and food vendors, and a Christmas parade running Dec. 12. helenchamber.com

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