Oh what a wonderful pre-Christmas season! When the streets and squares in German city centers are lit up, Christmas trees rise high and atmospheric Christmas carols are sung, it can only mean one thing: The Christmas markets are in full swing again. Every major city has one, in Germany alone there are over 3000 Christmas markets during the Christmas and Advent season. Mulled wine, gingerbread and Christmas tree decorations are everywhere. But in which cities do visitors find particularly beautiful Christmas markets that are a must see? Well, we’ve looked around the country and can now present our favorite and most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany.
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“The Christ Child invites you to his market, and whoever comes shall feel welcome.” With these words the festive prologue of the Nuremberg Christ Child to the opening of the city’s famous Christmas market ends. With around two million visitors, the Nuremberg Christmas Market is one of the largest and most traditional in Germany.
The 180 stalls with their typical red and white roofs are spread around the main market in the city center. The regional specialties of Nuremberg are especially popular: bratwursts, gingerbread and “Zwetschgenmännla” (figures made of dried plums, figs and walnuts) are the most famous trademarks of the Christkindlesmarkt.
The Dresden Christmas Market has even more tradition. It is considered the oldest in the country and has been held annually at the Altmarkt since 1434. It is called Striezelmarkt, which is derived from the Dresden Stollen – the popular Christmas pastry. This is a place that’s more than worthy of a visit. Not just because of the sweet food, but also because of the many handicrafts from the Erzgebirge.
Wood carvings such as nutcrackers, Christmas angels, smoking men and wing pyramids are welcome souvenirs of the Striezelmarkt. In the middle of the market place you can even admire the over 14 meter high and world’s largest step pyramid. Another record is set by the giant pastry Riesenstollen. For the Dresden Stollen Festival on the second Advent, Dresden confectioners bake a giant Stollen that weighs over 4,000 kilograms.
Small but nice: In the middle of Hamburg you will find one of the most homely and idyllic Christmas markets in Germany. Along the Michaelisbrücke, maritime flair wafts over the stalls of the market at the Hamburg Fleet Christmas Market. The reason for this is not least the two vintage sailing ships on the banks of the Fleet, which are festively decorated with Christmas lights. Especially in the evening, when the many lights are reflected in the Fleet and the Christmassy scents of herbs and spices buzz through the air, the scenery of the Christmas market is simply magical.
A special feature among the Christmas markets in Germany is the Munich Crib Market. Here you will find everything for and around the Christmas crib. Artfully carved figures, collectors’ items, rarities and accessories characterize the market stalls on the church square of St.Peter, which is only a few meters away from the Marienplatz, where the city’s big Christmas market takes place. There the highlight is the 30 meter high Christmas tree in front of the town hall, which is decorated with a total of 2,500 lights – an impressive sight!
Christmas markets in the Ruhr area? Here it is especially worthwhile to visit the Essen Christmas market. It is not so much characterized by its atmosphere as by its range of products. The official name “International Christmas Market Essen” already indicates what visitors can look forward to. A total of 240 market stands offer specialties and delicacies from all over the world. Whether African sculptures, Russian arts and crafts, Dutch poffertjes or tin signs from the USA: Goods from over 20 different countries are on sale in Essen.
At one of the most beautiful places in Germany, a cosy Christmas village pitches its tents during the pre-Christmas period. Between the impressive buildings of the German and French Cathedrals and the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Christmas market at the Gendarmenmarkt invites you to one of the most atmospheric Christmas markets in the country.
The white pointed roof tents house a lot of handicraft, culinary delights from top chefs and a colorful entertainment program.You can look forward to dishes like beef roulade with red cabbage and mushroom jus and admire fire artists, jugglers or stilt angels.
At the foot of the famous cathedral of Cologne, the red marble huts are lined up around the stage in the middle of Roncalliplatz. This is where the event is celebrated in the Cologne way with a colorful stage program: Of course, performances by Cologne bands, but also (youth) choirs, big bands, sing-along concerts or theater performances are part of the event program. And for the young visitors there is a two-hour, colorful children’s program every day.
What an atmosphere! In the middle of the Upper Black Forest, more than 40 Christmas market huts are settling under a 40-meter-high viaduct in Breitnau during Christmas season. Mainly typical products and specialties from the Black Forest are offered here, also a children’s program is part of it.
If you like, you can take a three-kilometer long hiking trail from Hinterzarten train station to the Christmas market area, where you will get wonderful impressions of the enchanting winter landscape of the Löffel Valley. We also recommend the illuminated nativity scene path, which tells the Christmas story in a special natural atmosphere. It should be noted, however, that the Christmas market is only open on Fridays and on Advent weekends.
The list of Christmas markets worth seeing could continue for even longer. Especially the markets in Germany’s smaller cities promise a lot of atmosphere and cosy flair. If you want to experience a Christmas market in a fairytale setting, you should travel to the Franconian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The medieval town center is still almost completely intact and surrounded by an old wall. The half-timbered houses with their red tiled roofs, the old city gates and towers and the picturesque market square where the Christmas market takes place are simply beautiful to look at. Especially when white snowflakes trickle onto the market stalls in winter. There is also a Christmas museum in the city.
Visitors to the Christmas market in Ludwigsburg encounter baroque splendor and chic charm. Here the market takes place on a magnificent market square surrounded by two baroque churches. The so-called baroque Christmas market is based on the model of baroque gardens. A further distinctive feature is the angel of light that seems to hover above the market.
The Christmas market in Goslar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lower Saxony, is also worth seeing. Surrounded by half-timbered houses, the town at the foot of the Harz Mountains hosts an idyllic and romantic Christmas market that radiates cosiness and comfort.
But also the Christmas market in Frankfurt/Main on the Römerberg – one of the oldest in the country – with its medieval character and the Frankfurt pastry specialty Bethmännchen is definitely worth a visit. A special ambience also awaits visitors to Stuttgart. There, the Christmas market is traditionally opened in the historic setting of the Old Palace. The Antique Market, which regularly attracts a number of art lovers and collectors, is also part of the event.