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The Christmas Markets of Germany are truly unique. If you want to experience a real traditional and romantic Christmas Market, there’s no better place to be!
Whether in larger cities, or smaller towns Christmas Markets are generally held from late November to Christmas Eve in or around the old-town or town/city square. It’s safe to say that all have their own distinctive character. But, common traits do include: decorated stalls heaped with traditional decorations, thousands of lights illuminating the scene, toys and gifts and the aromas of mulled wine, grilled sausages, biscuits and gingerbread. With so many Markets throughout Germany the most difficult choice might just be which one to visit. Here are some of our thoughts for the ultimate German Christmas Market experience.
The Striezelmarkt on Dresden’s Altmarkt Square is Germany’s oldest and largest Christmas Market. Its name is derived from Dresden’s Stollen, the seasonal fruitcake, which is also known as Striezel in this region of Germany. The festivities officially open with the cutting of the Stollen. The Market is also famous for the pflaumentoffel, a good-luck charm made from dried plums, the gingerbread festival and famous for its handicrafts that come from all over Saxony.
Found within the city’s town square, the Nuremberg Christmas Market is world-famous for its medieval atmosphere and original, freshly-made Nuremberg gingerbread. Don’t forget to take a bite out of some Nuremberg Bratwurst as you walk through the arts and craft stands or between the many concerts in the city’s churches. If you’re so inclined, you’ll also be able see and drink from the largest Feuerzangenbowle in the world: a mixture of warm mulled red wine, sugar and rum. For that old-world experience don’t forget check out the lamp-light procession to the castle or the carriage rides through the city.
The maritime city of Hamburg, with its distinct city sections, offers up the seasonal spirit both on-land and off it. The Town Hall Market is a must-see. Over 100 traders from all over the world come to display their wares and a walk down “Spielzeuggaße” (toy street) is a particularly important attraction for children. Plus, every hour Santa will fly through the sky above the market. Ships along the Alster decorated to the limits illuminate the sky and when reflected off the water, wraps the city in holiday spirit. Be sure to try a northern-German delicacy: curly kale. The vegetable is served warm mixed with sausage, spices and potatoes.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber is transformed into a winter dream with its Reitlersmarkt, set picturesquely in the center of town. With the backdrop of the historical city and 500 years of tradition you’ll never want it to end. Stroll the ancient cobblestone streets, visit the Christmas Museum, take a bite out of the traditional Schneeballen (Snowball) pastries and listen for the call of the night watchman as he makes his rounds.
How many people can say they’ve experienced Christmas in Germany’s oldest city? Trier, founded by the Romans in 16BC during the reign of Emperor Augustus Caesar, mixes Christmas traditions with UNESCO World Heritage roman monuments and the Church of our Lady. Things get underway when the markets are officially opened by the German Mulled Wine Queen; following this, 95 wooden booths will serve-up great gifts, hot tea and mulled wine, bratwurst, potato pancakes and other regional specialties.
Charlottenburg Palace - Berlin
Experience the crème de la crème of Christmas Markets with the royal backdrop of Castle Charlottenburg -- just one of more than 60 in Berlin (more than any other city). A spectacular light show sets the mood across the market and palace and you’ll find handicrafts, fine jewelry, wooden and pagoda tents, an authentic Tyrolean lodge, a farmer’s cottage and a Russian log cabin. Traditional treats like hot chestnuts, crepes and mulled-wine will fill you up, but you can burn those calories off by walking through the palace or the palace gardens.
For more information about Christmas markets in Germany here.