Nothing says Christmas in Germany better than its charming, quintessential Christmas markets that decorate the country during this magical time of year. From traditional handicrafts and quirky ornaments to local delicacies and the sweet-scented mulled wine, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t find in a German Christmas market, whether you choose to wander the most popular ones or to visit those hidden in some quaint medieval villages. In addition to shopping, these little jewels guarantee visitors an enchanting experience of both entertainment and culture.
With more than 60 Christmas markets spotted throughout the city, it’s no wonder Berlin has a special glow around Christmas (between the end of November and New Year’s Eve). Often regarded as the capital of Christmas markets, Berlin boasts an incredible variety of fairs, where artists, jewelers and musicians entice visitors into a wonderful atmosphere. The diverse mix of vendors, the handmade Yuletide decorations, the atmospheric lights, and the many fragrances that spring out from the stalls, endow the German capital with an alluring festive cheer.
Some of the best and most popular Christmas markets in Berlin can be found at the Charlottenburg Castle and next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, both of them featuring gorgeous historical settings, all kinds of delights, and a wonderful Christmas vibe.
From the idyllic traditional stalls at Berlin Christmas Tide Market and Winterfeldtplatz in Schöneberg, to the nostalgic fair at Opernpalais and the Organic Christmas Markets at Kollwitzplatz and Berlin Mitte, the eclectic German capital offers a magical winter wonderland.
Other charming Christmas markets worth mentioning include the Scandinavian Lucia Christmas Market, the entertaining Winter World at Potsdamer Platz and, of course, the legendary Spandau Christmas Market with its adorable animals and merry-go-rounds.
Nestled in the charming, beautifully decorated Old Town of Annaberg-Buchholz, this is one of the loveliest and most authentic Christmas markets in Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), and a perfect choice for visitors in search of a smaller, more intimate winter fairyland.
The event kicks off with the traditional Christmas Pyramid on November 28 and culminates with the Grand Miners’ Parade on December 23. During these weeks full of merriment and festive atmosphere, visitors have the chance to indulge in all sorts of Christmas goodies, from quirky ornaments and decorations to mouth-watering regional foods such as potato pancakes, stollen, chubby sausages, and of course the ubiquitous gluehwein (mulled wine). A special feature of Annaberg-Buchholz Christmas Market is certainly the collection of traditional merchandise, including Erzgebirge figurines, fascinating local toys, and hand-made lace from Plauen.
With a history that dates back to almost 600 years ago, Dresden Christmas Market, also known as Striezelmarkt, is the oldest and certainly one of the best Christmas fairs in Germany. It befalls each year at the end of November in the city’s baroque Old Town, with the imposing Church of Our Lady as its backdrop.
Highlights of Dresden’s major Christmas Market include the Stollen Festival, the Pyramid Festival, the huge Christmas carousel and the world’s biggest nutcracker. Moreover, guests will be spoiled with an alluring blaze of lights, a charming atmosphere, and plenty of Saxon culinary delights. As for the gifts, no worries, this superb winter display features over 230 stalls filled with authentic Christmas handicraft, pottery, candles, hand-made toys, wooden ornaments and much, much more.
Besides being one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas fairs, Dusseldorf Christmas Market promises a hell of a show this year. The traditional winter display in the city’s Old Town will be replaced by not less than 7 Christmas Villages, each of them featuring a distinctive theme. Therefore, visitors can experience attractions such as the outdoor Ice Rink, the entertaining Fun Fair or the innovative Angel’s Market. Obviously, the spectacle will be complemented with picturesque lights, nativity scenes, gingerbread houses and lots of nostalgic stalls selling authentic Christmas goods.
Dusseldorf Christmas Market 2014 takes place between November 21 and December 23.
Settled in the heart of one of the best preserved medieval Old Towns in Germany, Erfurt Christmas Market is among the largest and most atmospheric showings of its kind in Europe. Top attractions include the spectacular, exquisitely illuminated Christmas Tree, the amazing Nativity Scene with its human-sized wooden figures, the 12 m tall Erzgebirge Christmas Pyramid and the huge Ferris wheel.
Already regarded as a local tradition, the German fairytale scenes created by two of the city’s talented artists will be once again a highlight of Erfurt Christmas Market, enticing people of all ages with their unbeatable charm. Furthermore, the beautifully decorated stalls will fascinate everyone with their marvelous range of Christmas handcrafted products, colorful decorations, and regional delights.
2014 Dates: November 25 – December 22
Leipzig prides itself with the second oldest Christmas market in Germany, a tradition that dates back to 1458. Set in front of the Old Town Hall, in the city’s historic center, Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt greets its visitors with over 250 glowing stalls full of fascinating holiday gifts and delicious foods. It is a magical place bursting with culture, history and traditions, where the serene atmosphere is maintained by trumpet fanfares and Christmas concerts performed by the illustrious St. Thomas’ s choir and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
Special features of Leipzig Christmas Market comprise the fairy tale forest, the world’s largest Advent Calendar (857 m2) and the Old Medieval Christmas Market, which brings plenty of authenticity and charisma to this wonderful event.
This year, Leipzig Christmas Market runs from November 25 to December 23.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one the world’s most famous Christmas markets, a charming winter fairyland sprinkled with picturesque wooden stalls, old-fashioned carousels, and lazy snowflakes. Nuremberg’s postcard-perfect Old Town comes to life on November 28, when its lovely Christmas stands are tastefully decorated with fresh garlands and red-and-white cloth, while tempting scents of gingerbread and roasted almonds fill the chilly, crisp air.
All products at Nuremberg Christmas Market are renowned for their high quality. Neither plastic decorations, nor taped carols are allowed here, so prepare yourself for a truly authentic display of Christmas ornaments, unique toys, and superior handcrafts. The same exigency applies to food, therefore your culinary experience will certainly be something special. Traditional foods include Nuremberg’s spicy gingerbread, the delicious Nuremberg Bratwursts, and all sorts of freshly baked goods. A series of events and celebrations complement the enchanting atmosphere, making Nuremberg Christmas Market – also known as the “Little Town from Wood and Cloth“- an experience not to be missed.
Although not as popular as the Christmas markets mentioned above, the one in the Saxony-Anhalt’s capital still has its fair share of Christmassy charm added to the gorgeous historical backdrop. The cheerful stalls selling all kinds of seasonal decorations and tasty goodies, the medieval buildings bathed in festive glow, the seductive aromas of candy floss and mulled wine, the Christmas music, and the children’s fun fairs make from Magdeburg an ideal Christmas destination. And it’s not only shopping that draws tourists here each winter, but also the cozy festive atmosphere that shrouds the Magdeburg Christmas Market every December.
Last but not least, Cologne, the city that gave birth to the delicious mulled wine, invites its winter tourists into a magical land of Christmas Markets. From from traditional to glamorous and from the Old Town to the Rhine, each of Cologne’s 6 Christmas markets has its own distinct character.
Probably the most impressive of all is the one settled against the Gothic Cathedral (Cathedral Christmas Market), where more than 160 stalls full of life and magic entice visitors with an excellent array of arts and crafts. With the same charm, but another magnificent backdrop Cologne’s Old Christmas Market stands out due to its rustic appeal that complements perfectly the cobbled Alter Markt.
Other delightful Christmas markets in Cologne include the tenderly festooned Angel’s Christmas Market on the Neumarkt, the Harbour Christmas Market near the Chocolate Museum with its lovely maritime flair, the Market of Fairy Tales on the Rudolfplatz, and the idyllic Christmas Market at Stadtgarten.