Christmas markets across Germany have been canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, festive lights, Christmas trees, and a couple of stalls scattered across various city centers will add some much-needed cheer.
Nothing says Christmas in Germany quite like the charming, quintessential Christmas markets that decorate the country during this magical time of year.
Whether you choose to browse the most popular ones or those hidden in some quaint, lesser-known medieval villages, one thing is for sure: visiting a Christkindlmarkt is the ultimate holiday experience!
Christmas markets in Germany usually start in late November and last until around the 23rd of December annually. They’re mostly traditional affairs steeped in history and local culture, though in the last few years, more original, alternative options have started to pop up in forward-thinking cities like Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne.
From traditional handicrafts and quirky ornaments to tasty local delicacies and sweet-scented mulled wine, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t find in a German Christmas market. Festive shopping aside, they offer visitors an enchanting experience that combines culture with entertainment and holiday cheer in a magical fairytale-like setting.
From Stuttgart to Hamburg, these are Germany’s best Christmas markets in 2020:
Dresden Christmas Market
With a history that dates back 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, a huge Christmas carousel, and the world’s biggest nutcracker. Twinkling lights add to the charming atmosphere and foodies are spoiled for choice with a variety of Saxon culinary delights.
As for the gifts, no worries, this superb winter attraction features over 230 booths filled with authentic Christmas handicrafts, pottery, candles, handmade toys, wooden ornaments, and many, many more.
Annaberg-Buchholz Christmas Market
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 29th and culminates with the Grand Mountain Parade on December 22nd. During these weeks full of merriment and festive atmosphere, visitors have the chance to purchase all sorts of Christmas goodies, from quirky ornaments and decorations to mouthwatering regional foods such as potato pancakes, stollen, chubby sausages, and of course the ubiquitous gluehwein (mulled wine).
A special feature of Annaberg Christmas Market is certainly the high-quality traditional merchandise on offer, which includes Erzgebirge figurines, fascinating local toys, and handmade lace from Plauen.
Dusseldorf Christmas Market
Besides being one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas fairs, Dusseldorf Christmas Market promises a hell of a show this year, with a variety of locations throughout the city.
Each address will have its own distinctive theme, ranging from the delightfully traditional Christmas Market on Marktplatz to the Scandinavian inspired Christmas Market on Schadowplatz. Obviously, the spectacle will be complemented by picturesque lights, nativity scenes, gingerbread houses, gleaming crystals, and lots of nostalgic stalls selling authentic Christmas goods.
Erfurt Christmas Market
Set in the heart of one of the best preserved medieval Old Towns in Germany, Erfurt Christmas Market is among the largest and most atmospheric fairs of its kind in Europe. Top attractions include a spectacular, exquisitely illuminated Christmas tree, an amazing Nativity Scene of human-sized wooden figures, the 12m tall Erzgebirge Christmas Pyramid, and the traditional Christmas floral exhibition held daily in the vaults of Erfurt’s Domberg.
Already regarded as a local tradition, the enchanted forest on Domplatz square will be once again a highlight of Erfurt Christmas Market, enticing people of all ages with its handcrafted figures and artistic decors depicting scenes from fairytales. Furthermore, the beautifully decorated wooden huts will fascinate everyone with their marvelous range of handcrafted products, colorful decorations, and regional delights.
Leipzig Christmas Market
Leipzig prides itself with the second oldest Christmas market in Germany, a tradition that dates back to 1458. Located in front of the Old Town Hall, in the city’s historic center, Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt greets 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 festive atmosphere is maintained by trumpet fanfares and Christmas concerts performed by the illustrious St. Thomas Boys Choir.
Don’t miss the unique Finnish Village on Augustusplatz, whose Scandinavian style tents entice passersby with native delicacies like smoked salmon and Glögi (berries mulled wine), or the historical Christmas Market of “Ancient Leipzig“ at the Naschmarkt, which is a showcase of the best local art and craft.
Leipzig Christmas Market is also home to the world’s largest free-standing Advent Calendar (857 m2), a lofty Saxon spruce Christmas tree, a 38-meter-high Ferris wheel, as well as the Fairytale Forest, where children can meet Santa Claus.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one of the world’s most famous Christmas markets, a charming winter fairyland sprinkled with picturesque wooden stalls, old-fashioned carousels, and lazy snowflakes.
The postcard-perfect Nuremberg Old Town comes to life on November 29th, 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.
The products on offer 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 the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg – also known as the “Little Town from Wood and Cloth” – one of the best Christmas markets in Germany and an experience not to be missed during your winter holidays.
Magdeburg Christmas Market
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 magical Christmas music, and the children’s fun fairs make Magdeburger Weihnachtsmarkt an ideal Christmas destination.
And it’s not just the shopping that draws tourists here each winter, but also the fascinating family-friendly events and the cozy, festive atmosphere that shrouds the Magdeburg Christmas Market every December.
Berlin Christmas Markets
With more than 70 Christmas markets dotted throughout the city between the end of November and New Year’s Eve, it’s no wonder Berlin has a special glow around Christmas.
Widely regarded as the capital of Christmas markets, the city boasts an incredible variety of fairs, where artists, jewelers, and musicians lure 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 tons of festive cheer throughout December, transforming it into a magical winter wonderland.
From the idyllic traditional stalls of Adventsmarkt and Alt-Rixdorfer Christmas Market (on Richardplatz) to the Advent Artist Station at Mexikoplatz and the Finnish Christmas Bazaar at the Finland Centre, the eclectic German capital has a holiday fair for each type of visitor.
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 traditional local goods, and an intoxicating Christmas vibe.
Also worth visiting are the rooftop Christmas market at Klunkerkranich, the traditional eco-market on Kollwitzplatz, and, of course, the legendary Spandau Christmas Market, with its adorable animals and merry-go-rounds.
For Christmas shopping with a twist, head to the Scandinavian-themed Lucia Christmas Market or stop by Christmasrodeo, a Design Christmas Market teeming with fashion, jewelry, quirky works of art, and delicious street food.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
Dating back to the 14th century, Frankfurt’s Christmas Market is one of Germany’s oldest, biggest, and most captivating. It spreads across the city’s historic old town, with most of the action taking place around Römerberg, surrounded by traditional half-timbered houses and fairy lights.
In addition to the ever-present mulled wine, baked apples, roasted nuts, and fragrant gingerbread, the Weihnachtsmarkt in Frankfurt is especially famous for its delicious regional goodies, including hot apple wine, small dried plums figurines, and Bethmännchen (traditional marzipan and almond biscuits).
Otherwise, over 200 handsomely decorated stalls sell everything from native arts and crafts to genuine honey-based products. A giant Christmas tree and choirs singing heavenly carols only add to the festive atmosphere.
Cologne Christmas Markets
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 traditional to glamorous and from the Old Town to the Rhine, each of Cologne’s Christmas markets has its own unique charisma.
Probably the most impressive of all is the one set up against the city’s spellbinding Gothic Cathedral (Cathedral Christmas Market), where more than 160 stalls full of life and magic seduce 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 perfectly complements the cobbled Alter Markt.
Equally delightful are the tenderly festooned Angel’s Christmas Market on the Neumarkt; the maritime flavored Harbour Christmas Market overlooking the Rhine; the idyllic village-like Christmas Market at Stadtgarten; as well as the hip Christmas Avenue at Bermuda Triangle – Cologne’s gay and lesbian Christmas Market.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
With over 280 wonderfully decorated wooden huts set up in the heart of the city center, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany.
During the Advent season, the Inner City is ablaze with holiday spirit as the squares are bathed in festive lighting and market stall owners compete for the most beautiful rooftop decor. Christmas concerts take place daily in the Renaissance inner courtyard of the Old Palace and Stuttgart’s town hall is transformed into a gigantic Advent calendar. Old-fashioned carrousels, a fairytale grotto, and the traditional miniature railway drawn by a real steam locomotive will keep children happy while parents shop for gifts and sip on delicious mulled wine.
In addition to the usual gingerbread and roasted chestnuts, Stuttgart Christmas market offers a variety of Swabian culinary specialities, including Maultaschen – a giant ravioli filled with mincemeat and spinach.
Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market
Held in magnificent half-timbered surroundings, Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market takes visitors on a journey back in time with jugglers, fire-eaters, stilt walkers, and merchants wearing historical costumes. Adding to the time-warp feel are archery tournaments, medieval music and dances, as well as unique workshops where one can learn how to smoke and cure food, or watch craftsmen practicing ancient trades.
To fully immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere, swap your mulled wine for gluhbier (mulled beer) or try the local mead – a honey wine popular in the Middle Ages.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful Christmas market than that one in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a storybook Bavarian town with fanciful half-timbered houses, red-tiled roofs, and cozy boutique-lined cobblestone streets. Smack in the well-preserved medieval quarter, the 15th-century Reiterlesmarkt turns the city into a living Christmas card. Pair that with guided torchlight walks, ancient German pastries, and a year-round Christmas Museum full of historical decorations and you’ve got what they call Germany’s Christmas capital.
Hamburg City Hall Christmas Market
Hamburg’s edginess is proudly reflected in the city’s collection of over 30 Christmas markets, which range from dog-themed to maritime-flavored to the world’s first erotic Christmas market.
The largest and most impressive, however, is Weihnachtsmarkt, held in front of the City Hall. Here, masterful craftsmen and artisans from all over the country display and sell their handicrafts in elaborately decorated huts set around a giant Christmas tree. You’ll find wood carvings from Tyrol, pottery from the Lausitz region, original Nuremberg gingerbread, and even handcrafted Christmas ornaments from the Erzgebirge region.
Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market
Tucked away below the illuminated stone arches of a 130-foot-high railway viaduct, in the middle of the Black Forest, you’ll find one of Germany’s most unique Christmas markets. The peculiar fair stands out for its dramatic setting in a snowy valley surrounded by steep forested mountains and consists of 40 wooden chalets selling traditional handmade ornaments and tasty food. The dreamlike atmosphere is completed with live piano music and captivating light shows.
The Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market is about an hour by car from Freiburg and will only be open during the Advent weekends. Free shuttle buses take visitors from Hinterzarten and Himmelreich stations to the fair and back.