The best Christmas markets
The time before Christmas is rushing by as quickly as ever, and children and adults alike are looking forward to the chance to visit the many amazing Christmas markets that are opening up all over Germany again this year.
Particularly during the Christmas period, hardly anything is more pleasurable than strolling through the magnificently lit rows of stalls and immersing yourself in the stunning displays, taking in the delightful scents of roasted almonds, spicy German mulled wine (“Glühwein”) or gingerbread (“Lebkuchen”) and candyfloss.
Many arrive at the right Christmas Market full of festive cheer and can enjoy the period in the run-up to Christmas even more, finding ways to switch off from the stresses of Christmas shopping and everyday life.
The weekends in the Advent period are particularly well suited to jumping in the car or hopping on a bus or train and heading for one or other of the Christmas markets. Indeed, every Christmas market has its own character with wonderful facets that are unique to its particular region.
We’d love to take this opportunity to present some of the best Christmas markets of all.
As every Winter Market, Christmas Market or Christkindlmarkt has its own highlights and peculiarities, we think it’d be unfair to award the title of “best” to any one of them.
Around the Römer – Frankfurt Christmas Market
The Paulsplatz, St. Paul’s Square, in the historic old town around the Römerberg provides the stunning setting for the annual Frankfurt Christmas Market.
In particular, the contrast between the high-tech skyline of the financial district in the background and the ancient buildings of the Frankfurt old town give it a uniquely special appeal, making Frankfurt at Christmas more fascinating than ever.
The Christmas Market in Frankfurt, with its “Bethmännchen” pastries, Christmas tree baubles featuring the “Bembel” pot design, “Äppelwoi” apple wine soap and other unique gift ideas await an average of nearly three million visitors each year.
If you’d like to find out more about the Christmas market in Frankfurt city centre, the guided tours on offer are a great place to start, providing information about history and the contemporary city, while the views from the rooftop gallery of the “Nikolaikirche,” Old St. Nicholas’ Church, are just some of the tour’s highlights.
Munich Christkindlmarkt Festive Market
Christkindlmärkte, the popular Bavarian Christmas markets, are named after the Christ Child and can be found throughout the state. Naturally, the “Marienplatz” (St. Mary’s Square) in Munich is the venue for the oldest and largest festive market in all of Bavaria.
Covering an area of 20,000 square metres, with 140 stalls, the Munich Christkindlmarkt attracts visitors from near and far. This is a Christmas market that places a particular emphasis on tradition, with what was then known as the “Nikolausmarkt” – the St. Nicholas Market – being mentioned as far back as 1310, making it one of the oldest markets both in Germany and in the German-speaking world.
A particular highlight is the 30-metre-high Christmas tree that overlooks the Munich Town Hall with over 2,500 lights. Each year, this wonderful tree is gifted to the city by one of the neighbouring towns. The gift comes with a bonus for the donor: the community can promote itself and its tourism in the central square with presentations and booths.
The Kripperlmarkt (“Nativity Market”) is located directly in the pedestrian zone between Stachus and the Marienplatz, with enchanting, hand-carved and industrially produced nativity scenes and cribs.
Lübeck Christmas Market
While the city centre of Lübeck is well known for its beauty, the Christmas market in Lübeck is the icing on the cake in winter, making the stunning urban scenery even more enchanting, to the extent that the Christmas market even features in Thomas Mann’s famous novel, “Buddenbrooks.”
Visitors can look forward to an authentic family Christmas market, with Christmas baked goods, an enchanted forest, and a living Advent calendar. The historic Christmas market is held in front of the City Hall, the Rathaus, with its Gothic brick façade serving as an ideal backdrop. In addition, the entire Old Town is decorated with lights and fir trees, creating a perfect atmosphere for the little, brilliantly decorated stalls.
Leipzig Christmas Market
The world’s largest free-standing Advent calendar is located in Leipzig and, with an area of around 857 square metres, it covers the entire front of a building, enchanting visitors, and passersby on a daily basis with its brightly coloured windows.
Another of the highlight of the Christmas market in Leipzig is the historic, multi-layered carousel. The Leipzig Christmas Market is an especially wonderful experience for little ones, as it features an enchanted forest, the chance to meet Father Christmas, amazing rides and a Secret Santa workshop where you can make your own gifts.
In addition, there is a model railway exhibition and, naturally, the Finnish village in front of the large nativity pyramid.
Christmas Market at Hamburg City Hall
One of the best Christmas Market takes place each year before Hamburg’s impressive City Hall building, the Rathaus, in a historic building that is right next to the Binnenalster with great views from its stairs.
Although almost every district within Hamburg has its own, smaller Christmas market, the Christmas Market at the Hamburg City Hall is truly something special as you make your way through the winding, narrow aisles of a Christmas Market built to an architectural design by Bernhard Paul, the director of the Roncalli Circus, passing stunning Christmas stands that specifically choose not to sell modern, plastic items.
The Hamburg Christmas Market at the City Hall attracts around three million visitors to the Hanseatic port city each year.
Some of the market’s highlights include the flying Santa (who glides above the heads of passers-by at specific times) and the Christmas parade.
Nuremberg Festive Market
The Nuremberg Festive Market, the “Christkindlesmarkt” is another dream Christmas market, and most Christmas market enthusiasts can hardly wait for the Nuremberg market’s traditional opening ceremony featuring the gift-giving “Christkind” or Christ-child.
The Nuremberg Festive Market is world famous and is definitely one of those things that everyone should experience once in a lifetime. The atmosphere in Nuremberg is always something truly special, with the market being bathed in a wonderful, glistening light and, if it snows as well, the result is simply the ultimate festive mood.
Perhaps the Christkind itself is what makes the Festive Market truly special. Visitors state in childlike wonder at the wooden nutcrackers, tinsel angels, nativity scenes and multi-coloured stars, while visitors are welcome to stroll across Hans Sachs Square with roasted sausages and original Nuremberg-style gingerbread in hand via the Children’s City of Christmas, where cookies are baked, drinking glasses painted and, naturally, letters to the Christkind asking for gifts are written.
Münster Christmas Market at the historic Town Hall
The central courtyard of the impressive historic town hall is the venue for Münster’s largest Christmas market each year, delighting young and old alike with its atmosphere. Wander among the countless stalls with their stunning craft pieces, enjoy regional delicacies and the finest mulled wine and take in the delightfully cheerful and friendly atmosphere that the market exudes. In addition to the large and skilfully lit Christmas tree, a canopy made up of thousands of lights creates a romantic, contemplative atmosphere.
Alongside the booths featuring craft products such as handmade jewellery and culinary highlights, the children’s carousel ensures an unforgettable experience at Münster’s largest Christmas market. Hearty treats abound, while even those with a sweet tooth will leave Münster satiated during the exciting run-up to Christmas, with roasted almonds, hot waffles, and crêpes in all their different varieties.
The Münster Christmas Market attracts around a million visitors each year from near and far, placing them under its spell – so why not join them?
Christmas Market in Salzburg
With roasted almonds, mulled wine, candyfloss, coloured lights, beaming children and a feeling of bliss and wellbeing, let yourself be enchanted by the Salzburg Festive Market!
Each year, the Christmas market in Salzburg alternates between the “Domplatz”, the Cathedral Square, and the “Residenzplatz” in an explosion of multi-coloured Christmas lights beneath the stars.
Brightly lit Christmas decorations glisten everywhere, while the air is filled with the scent of vanilla, cinnamon, mulled wine and Bratwurst, while festive melodies ring out from all directions.
Against the backdrop of the historic façade of the “Schloss Mirabell” castle, illuminated pathways and festively decorated pine trees create an unforgettable, romantic atmosphere that enchants each and every visitor.
With a diverse Christmas music programme, groups of children, musical organisations and Salzburg’s choirs create a festive mood during the evenings in the run-up to Christmas and, in addition, a performance by the Salzburger Turmblaser – the Tower brass musicians – takes place each Saturday at 6.30 p.m.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
You can experience one of the country’s greatest Christmas Markets in the centre of Stuttgart. Enjoy the festive flair over an area of more than 4,000 square metres with 300 exhibitors and market traders, vying to tempt you with every imaginable delicacy. As well as the delicious food, you’ll find a wide variety of gift ideas, as the countless stalls offer an extensive range of Christmas products.
The string of LED lights that illuminate the Stuttgart Christmas market’s Christmas tree measures nearly six kilometres in length, while a giant, 25-metre tall star graces the top of the Christmas tree, lighting the way to the market for young and old alike.
In addition to food and drink, visitors enjoy a rich cultural programme each year. The Children’s Fairy Tale Land and the living nativity scene will keep younger visitors entertained, while a multitude of concerts by different orchestras keep the seats filled.
One of the highlights of the Stuttgart Christmas Market is the Children’s Tree of Wishes, where Children can hang their Christmas wishes – which, with a little luck, will hopefully come true for everyone.
Dresden Christmas Market
The Dresden Christmas Market, which is held on the Old Marketplace, is better known as the “Striezelmarkt,” named after the local Christmas Stollen, and is one of the world’s oldest Christmas markets with a history that dates back almost 600 years. The opening of the market has traditionally been marked with an ecumenical religious service that is held in the “Kreuzkirche,” the Church of the Holy Cross, with accompaniment by the Dresdner Kapellknaben Chapel Choir and the Dresden Kreuzchor Choir.
Since 1994, the Dresden Stollen Festival has been one of the highlights of the Christmas market, where master bakers create a giant Stollen cake that the city’s visitors and citizens take turns to cut at the Striezelmarkt. The profits from the sale of the Stollen are used for charitable purposes. Meanwhile, Father Christmas and a child open a door on the Advent calendar together to reveal a picture.
As a visitor, you will find the largest stepped Nativity pyramid in the world, at a height of almost fifteen metres that has earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The figures inside the pyramid are approximately 1.8 metres tall with a total cost of around €125,000.
Basel Christmas Market – the City of Christmas in the Heart of Europe
The Christmas Market is a longstanding tradition in Basel, with many cultural experiences on offer for young and old alike. The city centre offers an enchanting selection of magnificent Christmas decorations as well as many charming corners and delicious culinary treats.
The Basel Christmas Market, which is spread over the “Barfüsserplatz” and “Münsterplatz” squares, has a well-earned reputation as one of the most beautiful and largest Christmas markets in Switzerland. As such, it attracts many visitors from neighbouring countries each year. In addition to the market’s unique atmosphere, many special events and special exhibitions in the city’s museums enrich the cultural scene even further.
The city centre, where the Christmas Market tempts visitors with its many delicious specialities including mulled wine and “Basler Läckerli” spiced biscuits, is festively decorated to mark the occasion. The Münsterplatz square features a majestic Christmas tree with ornaments by the famous designer, Johann Wanner, while the surrounding area is packed with over 180 traders and craftspeople offering their goods in small, rustic wooden chalets.
Christmas Markets in Germany
It’s scarcely possible to name any single must-see or most beautiful Christmas market in Germany. The particular characteristics of each one, depending on their region and their style, and the special charms that they all have in common, make each of Germany’s various Christmas Markets uniquely wonderful so that you really should try to experience them all!
Sometimes a Christmas Market is just about making the company of those around you even more wonderful, drinking mulled wine together, discussing the run-up to Christmas, and enjoying spending time together during the day or in the evening.
As such, the festive season also provides an opportunity for many people to travel around the country, experiencing the plethora of different Christmas markets that are there for you to enjoy.