How to do a German Christmas Market!

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It’s that time of year again!  Christmas markets will be springing up all over Europe.  Which ones will you be going to?

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German Christmas Markets

As I sit here trying to make my list, I dream of chilled noses and hot cups of wine warming up my hands.  I spend more time thinking of the food than I should, but who would not drool in anticipation of some creamy mushrooms, grilled bratwurst, and of course a huge gingerbread heart?

Christmas markets are a centuries-old tradition in Germany and other parts of Europe.  In fact, the first Christmas market wasn’t in Germany at all.  It was in Vienna where they held their first market in 1294.  Germany didn’t arrive on the yuletide market scene for another hundred years . In medieval Germany, the markets were a few days welcome change to the dreary, cold of winter.

German Christmas Markets

Today most markets open the last week of November and go through Christmas Eve.   From traditional hand-made ornaments to Chinese made nutcrackers, plenty of shopping therapy is provided, along with the food booths and live entertainment.  Many of the larger markets have special days with parades, celebrities, and all kinds of special events.  In Dresden, the town that made German Stollen famous, they make and sell slices of a huge Stollen each year .

So how do you make the most out of your visit to a German Christmas market?  

German Christmas Markets

First!  You know it’s going to be cold outside and you have lost your mittens, don’t worry there will be stalls selling the warmest, prettiest hats, mitten, and gloves.  Head to one of those stalls first and you’ll be all set.

German Christmas Markets

Next – Seek out some fun!  Take a ride on a horse and carriage or on the Ferris wheel. You can steel your nerves by stopping first at one of the many gluhwein stands.  Take some time to check out the live entertainment.  Who’s turn is it?  The local children’s choir or the Rock n’ Roll band from the next village?

German Christmas Markets

Finally – Get some delicious fest food to stop that stomach from growling.  There are so many choices: potato cakes with applesauce, bratwurst, pretzels, baked goods, candy…what’s your favorite?  Walk around one last time, picking up those last-minute wooden ornaments or a present for mom.

German Christmas Markets

Transportation:  If I were you, I would take the train, bus, or other public transportation the entire way.  Remember the DB or Deutsch Bundesbahn has special tickets for customers staying in a state, like the Bavaria (Bayern) ticket, which will take you and four of your friends to another Bavaria town for around 30 Euros round trip.  Ask the clerk what will be the best price.  If you buy your tickets online, don’t forget to book early for the best prices.  Parking at the larger markets is usually outside the city and will cost you.  Plus then you still have to get to the center of town by public transport which is usually not a problem going, but let me tell you from experience, coming home it will take too long.  You will be cold and tired, and if you are like me…getting grumpy!

Follow these links to more European Christmas Market information:

The Dresden Striezelmarkt

Bavarian Christmas Markets

German Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets by Country

Christmas in Alsace (France)

What Christmas markets have you been to?  Which were your favorite?  What hints can you add to this list of how-tos?

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German Christmas Markets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Lovely post! Thanks for the inspiration to visit more markets! After being exposed to the over-commercial (buy, buy, buy…stress, stress, stress) nature of Christmas in the US, the European Christmas markets get you in the true holiday spirit. If you’re in Western Germany, don’t miss the markets in Trier or Monschau (a sweet village near the Belgian border). Enjoy!

  2. This post has inspired me more to go the European Christmas markets especially in Germany and Austria. One of these days I’ll brave the cold to go to one. I love how they have so many other activities and it feels like a community effort. Beautiful pictures and wonderful tips.

  3. I’ve only been to Vienna for the Christmas markets! Good to hear that I managed to go to the original “German Christmas Market” even though it was technically not in Germany. We drank gluhwein (there’s a non-alcoholic version for kids) and had a blast – definitely a fun thing to do at Christmas. They have tried Christmas markets here in London but it’s just not the same feeling I think.

  4. I would love to buy some mittens and hats at the market. Living in a hot country it has such a romantic vibe to it. Great idea adding the train ticket tips to get the best pricing. Your first photo really sets the scene and is an excellent photo.

  5. What an absolutely fabulous post! 😀

    I’ve never heard of a Christmas market, so I’ve never been to one. A school or church Christmas bazaar clearly doesn’t count. I’m finally going to make it to Germany in February for a few days, but I’ll have to make sure to go again during Christmas season so I can get a Christmas market experience. 😀

  6. The European Christmas markets remain high on my list. Last year I arrived in Barcelona on Christmas day so that market was finished. I went to the French Christmas market here in Seoul last weekend. I managed to get some great cheese and meats, but the market itself wasn’t very Christmassy. Thanks for linking up. #TPThursday

    1. Nancie, The markets in Europe sort of mark when Christmas season is here. It’s really Christmas-y and cozy and fun. I hope you get to come again and really experience one.

  7. Great insight to German Christmas markets! I have only been to the Christmas market in Estonia in the Town Hall Square and from what you have described, they sound pretty similar. Estonia’s markets are maybe a bit smaller, but otherwise very much alike. It might have something to do with the fact we were occupied by Germany.

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