Dresden Christmas Stollen and Parade

Want to go to the tastiest Christmas Market in Germany? Head to Dresden where the best, the biggest cake or stollen is revered! You’ll love the Dresden Christmas Market!

During the holiday season, every country, every family has their own tasty recipes that bring the holidays home.  In Dresden, they’re most famous holiday treat is the Christmas Stollen.  Stollen is a yeast cake that can be plain or filled with dried fruits, marzipan, poppyseeds, or almonds and nuts.  It is sold all over the country, but no other German city is as well known for their stollen as Dresden.

Dresden Christmas Stollen.

A Tasty Holiday Treat with a Long History – Dresdener Stollen!

During the Christmas season, almost every little dorf and village, let alone the big cities in Germany, host Christmas markets.  Touting gemütlichkeit, a general good feeling, of Christmas cheer often brought on by copious amounts of  glühwein, potato pancakes, bratwurst, or candied almonds, on the second Saturday of Advent in Dresden, there’s something a little different.

Do you love German Christmas Markets? Want to go to the most unique one? The Dresden Christmas Market revolves around its famous pastry, the stollen!
One of the most magical Christmas markets in Germany, Dresden has the world'd largest stollen!

Dresden’s love affair with this powdered cake goes back hundreds of years.  In olden times, stollen was made with oil not butter, but in Saxony oil was very expensive so in the early 1400s appeals to the pope were made to be able to use butter in the recipe.  The first appeal went to Pope Nicholas V who matter-of-factly denied the Saxons request…as did the four popes that succeeded him.  

The MC tells the history of the giant Dresden stollen and welcomes everyone to have a piece at the end of the parade route.

However, as a testament to perseverance, the people of Dresden did not give up and finally were awarded papal approval for the use of butter.  Needless to say, a cake made with butter is much tastier than that of oil, so now only the Dresdeners had this ability unless you wanted to pay them a severe butter tax.

The marching band precedes the all-important stollen.

For a few hundred years, the bakers of Dresden happily monopolized the tasty treat, and it became such an important commodity that in 1750 Augustus the Strong decided to make a giant stollen to cap off a military salute to the Grand Duke of Lithuania.  Over 24,000 people partook of this first giant stollen and the tradition took hold.

Marching band.

Since 1750, Dresden has had a tumultuous history, and Christmas has come in and out of fashion.  However, they never lost their love for their famous cake.  So not long after reunification with West Germany in 1994, the tradition was brought back and once again a giant stollen was baked and this year was the 21st year that the Stollenfest has been back in business.

A baker in the parade.

The Dresdener Stollenfest is celebrated the first weekend in December.  At 10:00, it is opened with many speeches, and a lot of ceremony as the giant stollen is unveiled in the main square. Then, accompanied by marching bands, it is paraded through the pedestrian zones of old Dresden all the way to their traditional Christmas market called the Striezelmarkt.

The driver that finagles the stollen cart through the old town.
More parade walkers, this time from the Konditorei, or Bakeries.

The parade is all about the stollen.  First, the marching bands make a way through the crowd, then the wagon heads out.  Of course, the stollen needs the perfect flour, master bakers, and plenty of customers.  The parade is full of folks in medieval dress, the guilds such as the chimney sweeps, iron forgers, and more all relating to stollen stroll through the town.

The flour for the stollen.
All parts of the stollen process are celebrated in the parade.

Once there, more speeches are made and finally using a very special knife, the cake is cut and sold to happy revelers with the proceeds going to charity.  This year, a 500 gram piece of cake was sold for 5 Euros.  To buy your piece there is a stand set up that will give you a stollen badge to exchange for your piece of cake.

The official stollen knife.

The Dresden stollen cake tokens are sold and proceeds will go to charity.

As the parade passes, the crowds disperse into the myriad of decorated wooden booths selling Christmas items, food and drink, and of course lots of traditional stollen.

A coin buys you a piece of the world's largest stollen.

Practical Information

For current dates and times visit the stollenfest website. 

There are plenty of day tours heading to Dresden for the Stollenfest from any large city, but if you have your own transportation, it is an easy drive and parking is abundant within the city.

The Stollenfest speeches begin about 10:00 so that everyone is primed and ready to go at 11:00 when the parade gets started.  Even though there are plenty of people, the parade route is pretty long and everyone gets a chance to see the stollen.

Dresden is a beautiful city, and even if you cannot go to the Stollenfest, you still need to go!

And don’t forget to be safe! Check out these amazing anti-theft backpacks.

Take some stollen home with you, too, of course.

 Have you ever tried Dresden Christmas stollen?  Have you visited the Stollenfest?

25 thoughts on “Dresden Christmas Stollen and Parade”

  1. You’ve Stollen my heart. (har, couldn’t help myself.) I love the story about getting special dispensation to use butter. As my Swedish grandmother might say, “If a little [fill in the blank, but mostly butter] is good, a lot is better.”

  2. I have yet to be in Europe for Christmas festivals or fairs, this looks wonderful and the cake sounds like a definite must try. Love your photographs of the event!

  3. What a wonderful festival. It’s certainly unusual but I’d love to attend this. I’ve never had Stollen and it looks delicious. Butter always makes everything taste better :) Dresden looks like an interesting place to visit and one of these days I would love to visit the German Christmas markets too.

    1. Mary, You should. Spending Christmas in Germany or Austria is really magical. The Christmas markets have such a warm ambience. I love them. Dresden is a gorgeous city. I can’t wait to go back when all the flowers are out.

  4. Wow, now that is a celebration! I would love the Stollen with marzipan, Corinne. Though the potato pancakes and bratwurst would be even more awesome…lol! I’m glad they brought back the celebration…looks like fun. Dresden will always catch my eye immediately because of my study of the war. Good post! :)

  5. Hi Corrine. Love your photos! I have eaten Stollen, but have never been to this festival. Would love to attend, plus see some of the other European Christmas markets. The Prague market is high on my list as well.

    1. Nancie, Christmas markets are great, especially in those old beautiful cities, like Prague. I was there a few weekends ago and it was cold, so the gluhwein went down really well! I’m sure you would enjoy them.

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