At Christmastime, Germany reveals its most Magical side. More than 2,500 Christmas markets invite you to share in the joy of the Christmas season and enter into Germany’s festive spirit. If you want to enjoy these enchanting markets, you will need to plan ahead. In October and even sooner, tour companies roll out their Winter Escorted Tour brochures and on-line offerings.
Here is a list of the most popular markets across Germany. The German Tourist Office has a more comprehensive list.
One of the region’s largest and most beautiful Christmas markets, Baden-Baden’s enchanting Christkindelsmarkt is held in the famous Lichtentaler Allee park, against the backdrop of the spa assembly rooms which are lit up by thousands of candles and lanterns. In November, the Christmas Angel arrives by carriage at the sky stage and on 6 December at 5pm, St. Nicholas drops in by hot-air balloon to hand out small gifts to the children.
Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, is the exquisite setting for Berlin’s historical Christmas market, one of many Christmas markets in the city, which will whisk you away to a magical Christmas world full of scrumptious treats and fairy lights. There are lots of tents where you can get warm and browse round the craft stalls. And there’s a great cultural program to put you in a Christmas mood.
Koln (Cologne) boasts six extraordinary Cologne Christmas markets. They are located near the cathedral, at Alter Markt and Neumarkt, and Rudolfplatz offers a fairytale- themed version. A medieval market is held outside the Chocolate Museum. One of the “Koln-Düsseldorf” Rhine cruise ships holds a floating Christmas market. Enjoy the season with countless stalls, mouth-watering delights from around the world, evocative Christmas concerts, stage shows, Nativity displays and a festive boat trip on the Rhine.
Established in 1434, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. Its name comes from Hefestriezel, renowned as the original Dresden Christstollen. Every year on the 3rd Saturday before Christmas a Stollen festival and grand festival parade are held in its honor. Traditional hand-crafted goods from Dresden and the surrounding region include pyramids, incense burners, decorative arches, pottery and hanging stars.
Düsseldorf’s beautifully illuminated Christmas Market is a perfect lead-in to the holiday season. You’ll find exclusive, Christmas markets in several locations. There’s the Art Nouveau-style ‘little angel’ market in Heinrich-Heine-Strasse. Alternatively, you can browse the traditional stalls in front of the historical town hall, where a local craftsman carves Nativity figures from olive wood.
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt’s Christmas market, one of the oldest (1393) and prettiest in Germany, attracts more than three million visitors every year from all over the world. On Romerberg square, Paulsplatz and Mainkai quay, 200 stalls offer arts and crafts and festive food and drink. A varied program features Advent concerts, trumpet-playing from the balcony of St. Nicholas’s Church and the carillon on the 30-metre-tall Christmas tree.
Hamburg is renowned for its wonderful Christmas markets, which are staged in many of the city center’s squares. Located opposite the impressive town hall, the prettiest of these was established by Roncalli’s Circus. It has nostalgic carousels and stalls laden with confectionery, toys and crafts. A visit to Hamburg’s Christmas market is something you’ll never forget.
Hanover’s three markets will get you into the Christmas spirit. Set in the historical old quarter around the Market Church, the traditional Christmas market has 150 stalls for shopping and eating. In the historical Christmas village, step back in time to a medieval world where glassblowing, pottery and candlemaking still flourish. The Finnish Christmas village on Ballhofplatz, with its cultural specialities, offers a different perspective.
Heidelberg’s Christmas market is a charming mix of tradition and romance. Seven squares around the old quarter feature a number of stalls and the traditional Christmas pyramid. There are sheep and donkeys, traditional food and drink from the region, gift ideas and entertainment. Enjoy “Christmas on Ice” at one of Germany’s loveliest ice rinks with great views of the festively lit castle.
Leipzig’s Christmas market dates back to 1767 and is held on the market square against the backdrop of the old town hall. Annual attractions include a fairytale forest for kids, the “old Leipzig” medieval market and the “Bethlehem Bazaar”. You can also watch the Erzgebirge miners’ parade, an old-established tradition in the region. Enjoy the delightful trumpeters, festive concerts by the renowned St. Thomas’s choir and performances of Bach’s Christmas oratorios in the city’s churches.
Munich’s traditional Christmas market – whose roots go back to the 14th century – is held on Marienplatz square in the heart of the city center. The Kripperlmarkt, one of Germany’s largest markets specializing in Nativity scenes, is on nearby Rindermarkt. Every day there is live Alpine Christmas music from the town hall balcony. “Heaven’s workshop” offers creative activities for children free of charge.
The Christmas Angel opens Nuremberg’s ever-popular Christkindlesmarkt on Hauptmarkt square. Enjoy the medieval atmosphere and delicious aromas of gingerbread, bratwurst, roasted almonds and glühwein. The children’s market has a traditional carousel, Ferris wheel and steam train. Between the two markets is the Nativity trail, taking visitors on a tour of the city’s many Nativity scenes.
With more than 270 charmingly decorated stalls, Stuttgart’s popular Christmas market is one of the oldest, largest and most attractive in Europe. Beautifully presented stalls adorned with angels, reindeer, Father Christmases, fir garlands and Christmas baubles are illuminated in a festive glow, transforming the city centre into a glittering Christmas wonderland. The backdrop of the Old Castle, the collegiate church and the baroque grounds of the New Palace adds to the medieval feel.
Written by Terri Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com