It’s the middle of November, and still no snow. But here, in Germany, you can feel that Christmas is around the corner. In the country of Christmas Markets, the winter season attracts every year a lot of visitors who want to see and discover the traditional Christmas Markets, wander around wooden decorated stalls, drink “gluhwein” (mulled wine) and get a dose of Gemütlichkeit (winter cheer).
There are over 150 Christmas Markets in all of Germany for each type of Christmas enthusiast: big city markets, traditional markets, and historic markets. In city squares, in tiny villages, in castles, farms, or even on the boat, in this period, you’ll find Christmas Markets everywhere in Germany.
But which market to choose? Check out my guide to the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Germany, and let the magic of Christmas begin! And don’t forget to take your unique Glühwein mug!
Dresden Christmas Market – Striezelmarkt
Dresden Christmas Market is the oldest Christmas Market in all of Germany. Almost 600 years ago, in 1434, the first Christmas market took place in Dresden.
The market is also known under the name of Striezelmarkt, from Hefestriezel, an ancient dessert from which originates now “Dresden Christstollen,” the famous German Christmas Cake.
Initially, it was just a one-day market where people could buy meat for Christmas. Over the years, the market became bigger and bigger, and now has over 250 stands and wooden huts. Most of the toys, decorations, and presents you can buy today at this market have been handcrafted for centuries in Erzgebirge (in the Ore Mountains), near Dresden, from where many other Christmas Markets in Germany are being supplied.
See the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid, with a height of 14 meters
See the world’s biggest nutcracker
Eat the delicious Dresden Christstollen
Take part in the Stollen Festival, which is held on the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent
Take part in the Pyramid Festival, which is held on the Saturday before the third Sunday of Advent
Daily 10 am-9 pm
30th November, 4 pm-9 pm
Until 2 pm on Christmas Eve
Nuremberg Christmas Market – Christkindlesmarkt
Every year, in Nuremberg, one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany takes place: Nuremberg Christmas Market, “Christkindlesmarkt” or the “Little Town from Wood and Cloth,” named this way because of its traditional stalls decorated with a red-and-white cloth. It’s a wonderful place to wander around and admire the Christmas decorations, drink mulled wine, and buy some presents: tree ornaments, gold angels (traditional ambassador of Christmas in Nuremberg), gingerbread, candles, and toys.
But what makes this market so special? The fact that it’s a very traditional and old market, and you won’t find commercial and mass-produced presents here. Organizers keep an eye on everything being sold to keep the fair traditional and kitsch-free.
There’s also a market for children, Nuremberg Kinderweihnacht, opening on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday, with a solemn ceremony – a prologue recited from the balcony of the Frauenkirche Church.
See the old-fashioned carousel at the Kinderweinacht;
Meet the Christkind, the symbol of the Nuremberg Christmas Market – a young girl with blond hair, dressed like an angel, who opens the Kinderweinacht and can be seen daily from Tuesday to Friday at 3 pm;
Buy the famous “Nuremberg Plum People,” little figurines made of plums and figs and representative of the market.
Daily 10 am-9 pm
Opening ceremony: 5.30 pm
24 Dec: 10 am-2 pm
Bremen Christmas Market
Bremen Christmas Market is one of the finest Christmas Markets in Germany. 180 decorated stalls with twinkling lights and Christmas decorations are a magnet for many visitors who are willing to shop and enjoy seasonal treats each year. The Old Town Square has an enchanting Christmas feeling, with the smell of freshly roasted almonds, chocolate, baked apples, and gingerbread cakes, the shimmering lights, and the historical setting. This is the place to head for when you want to be surrounded by the Christmassy feeling.
Part of the Bremen Christmas Market is also “Schlachte Nacht,” a medieval and maritime market on the River Weser promenade. There are wood fires and torch lights in front of the ancient taverns, and you can take part in a Christmas Tree expedition or drink punch on a pirate ship.
Enjoy the medieval atmosphere and step back into the Middle Ages at Schlachte Nacht.
Watch the walk-through Advent calendar: at Schlachte Nacht market, every day, a new door is open, revealing a surprise;
Drink a Dutch Sinter Klaas on a pirate ship.
READ MORE: 10 Festive Christmas Trees I Love This Year
27th November – 23rd December 2017
Mon-Fri 10 am-8.30 pm
Sat 10 am-10 pm
Sun 11 am-8.30 pm
Schlachte Magic Christmas Market
Daily 11 am-8.30, Saturdays until 10 pm
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval German town that remained almost untouched over the centuries, thanks to the city council’s sustained efforts. The Christmas Market here is one of the most romantic Christmas Markets in Germany, and it is also called “Reiterlesmarkt,” after Reiterle, a mystical rider who carried the souls of dead people in the wintertime. Over the centuries, that fearful rider turned into a gentle old man who brings presents and joy when Christmas comes.
In this period, in Rothenburg, there were a lot of Christmas-related activities to choose from: outdoor concerts, puppet shows, guided torchlight walks outside the city walls and organ concerts in the city’s churches.
Rothenburg is also home to the German Christmas Museum so that you can enjoy Christmas all year long.
Attend the festive ceremony when “Rothenburger Reiterle” officially opens the Christmas Market;
Eat a “Schneeball” (snowball), a local dessert made from strips of sweet dough fried and covered with powdered sugar or chocolate.
Visit Käthe Wohlfahrt’s “Christmas Village”.
Erfurt Christmas Market
At Erfurt, in Thuringia, one of the loveliest Christmas Markets takes place. Located in “the green heart of Germany,” Erfurt is a 1,250-year-old medieval city with well-preserved historic buildings and charming architecture.
Erfurt Christmas Market has a lot to offer when it comes to Christmas markets: a 25m high Christmas tree, a 12m high Christmas Pyramid, and a nativity scene with near life-size carved figures. In the medieval cellars of the Erfurt Cathedral, you can visit the Floral Christmas exhibition (“Florales zum Weihnachtszeit”). Guided tours, led by Father Christmas and his angels, are also available.
Over 200 wooden huts filled with seasonal specialties and Christmas gifts are waiting to be discovered in the main squares of the city: Domplatz, Fischmarkt, Willy-Brandt-Platz squares, and along Anger and Schlösserbrücke.
Eat the local delicacies: Thuringian bratwurst and Erfurt schittchen;
Buy traditional blue-dyed fabrics and crafts from the Erzgebirge mountains.
Set out on a historical city tour with Father Christmas
28th November – 22nd December 2017
Sun-Wed 10 am-8 pm
Thu-Sat 10 am-9 pm
Fri-Sat 10 am-10 pm
Have you already visited one of these Christmas Markets? If so, tell me what’s your favorite!