Christmas markets in Germany are a remarkable phenomenon. They start popping up already in the last week of November. Every district of the city has its own, and yes – there is even one quite large at the Munich Airport! Even my employer decided to place a small stall in front of the building, so you can held your business meeting there instead of a dull conference room 🙂
If you are planning to visit Bavaria before Xmas, visiting German Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) is a must! Probably you will decide on going to Nuremberg or Munich, as the biggest and most remarkable ones are held there. Here you can find few tips and stories from us.
CHRISTMAS MARKET IN NUREMBERG
One of the most famous German Christmas markets, Christkindlesmarkt, takes place in Nuremberg – providing holiday season atmosphere since XVI century. Surprisingly, it became the most recognized German Xmas market thanks to… yes, the Nazis, which stated that this event would fit perfectly into their historical policy and added Christkindlesmarkt idealistic (and ideological!) twist. Gold angel Christkind appearing at the market opening ceremony, accompanied by the children’s choir and church bells was also their idea…
Market is really huge (over 160 stalls!) as the number of tourists visiting. We went there during the weekend in November and queues for the most interesting stalls (Glühwein of course) were enormous. Anyway, Christkindlesmarkt is very charming and that’s mainly thanks to the location – it takes place on the Main Market Square, which is surrounded by old Gothic houses and cozy streets. But you should have no illusions – the crowds at Xmas markets are in each and every German city as this is a highly popular attraction not only among tourists, but also Germans visiting the stalls in search of gifts and delights. Crowds gather especially on opening ceremony on Friday before the first Sunday in Advent. As I mentioned before, the whole Weihnachtsmarkt is opened by Christkind, who brings Lutheran children their Christmas gifts. As veneration of saints is not present in protestant church, Santa Claus was replaced by a golden angel. I hope they are equally generous when it comes to presents!
INFO: Nuremberg Xmas Market
CHRISTMAS MARKET IN MUNICH
The biggest market is located in the city center – between Odeonsplatz, Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. You can start wandering around on Marienplatz, next to Rathaus, where you can admire the Christmas Tree lightened up by 3000 candles… impressive! There is always a small competition waiting for visitors – you can guess how tall the tree is and win a nice prize. Fun fact – tree comes from a different city of the region each year, and there is even a waiting list as this is considered to be a big distinction. This year it came from small city Weiler-Simmerberg-Ellhofen in Allgäu region. This town has been on the waiting list for 14 years!
If you by accident run across some devil-like creature while walking around the stalls, don’t freak out. You might have just seen the Krampus, scary assistant of charming Santa Claus. He takes care of these bad kids. Twice during the Advent a special run is organized, and all enthusiasts can run through Munich in 10kg heavy, 2000 EUR worth costume with up to 10 horns. Wanna try?
Which stalls are worth visiting? It’s hard to tell, depending on what you are looking for. I love stalls offering paper stars, perfect Christmas decorations for your window. It looks truly magical. There is also a special Kripperlmarkt, the largest Manger Market in Germany. It is really fascinating to take a look at wooden sculptures, which are handmade with extreme detail, real treasures. If you get bored with all these stalls, you should head for Karlsplatz and relax on a ice-rink.
INFO: Munich Xmas Market
WHAT SHOULD YOU TRY ON GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS?
Glühwein! It is a traditional sweet mulled wine mixed with spices, served in distinctive ceramic mugs. You have to pay a deposit for a mug (couple of euros), but after 5 refills you may feel a strong bond with it and end up eventually taking it home 🙂 I can’t imagine German Christmas markets without a big mug of hot mulled wine… There is also something special waiting for kids and those who expect kids – Kinderpunsch, the same super sweet drink but no booze added.
If you get hungry, just head for the food stalls, where you try regional sausage specialties – white sausage Weisswurst served with a special sweet mustard in Munich or Drei im Weckla in Nuremberg, three tiny thin sausages in a bun. There is also a half-meter Bratwurst waiting for those starving ones. Poor you, if you are vegetarians like me – your choice will probably be limited to potato pancakes Kartoffelpuffer and pretzels… Well, what else you can expect in a country of knuckle and sausage! Of course, as we are in Germany, you may be almost 100% sure that at least the sausage will be organic (no kidding, Glühwein is also sold in an eco-friendly version!).
But let’s be honest – no one visits the Weihnachtsmarkt to eat the sausage. There is obviously something else you have to try – sweet delights! You can find our ultimate guide to German Xmas treats here.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE OTHER GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS?
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