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WHERE TO FIND GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS

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Do you want information about Christmas markets in Germany? Where are they held? How do you get there? What dates and hours they are open?

Shopping for Christmas decorations
Shopping for Christmas decorations
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Germany has hundreds of Christmas markets (called Weihnachtmarkt and Christkindlmarkt in German) in large cities and tiny villages. They range from the oldest Christmas market in Germany (Striezelmarket in Dresden) to the longest (in Muhltal).

You can learn about more than four dozen Christmas markets in more than 30 locations in Germany with a free app for Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets. Download the app (which was created by The German National Tourist Board and Deutsche Bahn) in several languages from iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Bavarian Christmas markets

Christmas markets in Bavarian towns usually open from the first Sunday of Advent to Christmas Eve day. They offer visitors roasted chestnuts, hot spiced wine, choir-singing, handcrafted gifts and Christmas toys, surrounded by medieval walls and half-timbered buildings.

The Coburg Christmas Market begins December 1, with the Coburg Children's Choir candlelight parade through the center of town. Visitors can buy Christmas tree decorations, handmade toys and pottery, while snacking on toasted nuts and Coburger sausages.

The Bamberg Nativity Trail, which features Christmas crib scenes from around the world, begins at the Bamberg Christmas market. More nativity scenes, which follow bible stories from the Annunciation to the Three Kings, are in the central Christmas market.

Angels for sale

The Nuremberg Tinsel Angel, which holds lights in its arms, is a symbol of German Christmas. Stalls in the 15th-century Christmas market in Nuremberg sell Christmas angels, as well as grilled sausages, spicy cookies, hot mulled wine, fruit cakes, Nuremberg souvenirs and toys. There is also a Christkindlmarkt for kids.

Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt, located just west of Nuremberg, also dates back to the 15th century. Its name recalls an old legend about a reiter (man on horseback) who brought presents. Visitors can see an artistic rendition of this horse-rider on Rothenburg's Town Hall.

Christmas carols

Southeast of Nuremberg, the Regensburg Christmas Market is in the Old Corn Exchange in the town center. Visitors can watch performances of the Regensburg boys' choir and the Cathedral Sparrows (Domspatzen), in the designated UNESCO site.

German pretzels
German pretzels
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Passau Christmas Market takes place beside the baroque cathedral. Vendors sell crafts, pretzels, spiced cookies, apple desserts and handmade candles from decorated stalls.

Hot spiced red wine

The Christkindl Market in Altoetting (known for its Black Madonna), takes place during Advent. Choirs and brass bands from Altoetting and the Bavarian uplands give musical performances. Churches display life-size mangers and nativity scenes.

Frauenchiemsee Island, surrounded by the Bavarian Alps and the crystal-clear lake, Chiemsee, is illuminated with hundreds of lights and decorations at Christmas time. Booths sell cinnamon-scented gluhwein, lebkuchen (honey-sweetened spice cookies with nuts and candied fruit), as well as creations by local artists.

Advent calendar

The biggest freestanding Bavarian Advent Calendar is in Dachau, near Munich. From December 1 to 23, the area in front of the town hall becomes the traditional Christmas Market. The old town of Dachau decorates its colorful houses, Parish Church of St. Jakob and Wittelsbacher Castle.

Bremen Christmas Market features nearly 200 decorated stands beside the town hall and Roland statue. Every day, on the maritime promenade, a little door is opened in a walk-through Advent Calendar. Children can see a Dutch Sinter Klaas (Santa Claus) onboard a pirate ship.

Santa Claus boat

Engelke Markt is a floating Christmas market in Emden, an East Frisian North Sea port. Visitors can reach the giant pontoon in Ratsdelft harbor on a pair of bridges. Decorated and illuminated museum ships surround Emden's Weihnachtmarkt. Santa arrives by boat. Visitors can buy handcrafted gifts and Christmas foods and drinks.

The Berlin Weihnukka Market, held from December 3 to 31, is the only Christian-Jewish Christmas market in the capital of Germany. Located in the large gardens of the Jewish Museum, it sells Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, toys and foods.
Christmas elves
Christmas elves
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Christmas trees

Erfurt Christmas Market, in the Thuringia forest, features a workshop for Santa's elves and a fairytale forest. A tall Christmas tree and pyramid tower over the Christmas market in Cathedral Square. Dozens of little wooden huts sell hot spiced red wine, Thuringian sausages and handcrafted Christmas gifts.

Dortmund, on the Industrial Heritage route, boasts one of the largest Christmas trees in the world. Father Christmas entertains younger children. Older kids can create gifts and make Christmas cookies.

Bad Muenster am Stein-Ebernburg Christmas Market, near Frankfurt, is located in the spa gardens below the Rheingrafenstein rock face and castle ruins. Christmas lights decorate the trees and the gable of the spa in one of the area's best timber-framed buildings.

Unique Christmas gifts

The Christmas market at Annaberg-Buchholz, an eastern mining town in Saxony's Ore Mountains, ends with a grand miners' parade on December 23. Craftspeople sell Christmas tree decorations, sweets and hand-carved wooden presents.

At the Esslingen Christmas Market, on the River Neckar, torches line paths and illuminate the Renaissance town hall and half-timbered buildings. Vendors wear historical costumes as they sell Christmas gifts, foods and drinks.

There are many more German Christmas markets. Some cities, such as Hamburg, Berlin and Muenster, have more than one Weihnachtmarkt.

Each Christkindlmarkt has a unique focus, ranging from Dresden's giant stollen (Christmas cake) to Luebeck's recreation of the Brothers Grimm stories. Experiencing any of them is guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Christmas Markets in Germany: www.germany.travel/christmas

More things to see and do in Germany:

Berlin Currywurst Museum

Berlin Brandenburg Airport BBI