When you think of the ideal Christmas scene – twinkling lights, music, mulled wine and gingerbread – you’re probably picturing the exact scene you’d find at a German Christmas market. In recent years, German-themed markets have become a regular feature in cities across the UK, but if you want to experience something truly magical this year, then why not treat yourself to the real deal?
With so many cities and markets to choose from, it can be tough to know which will be the best one for you. To help you choose, we’ve put together this handy guide to what we think are the ten best German Christmas markets, including tips on special things you can experience in each city. So what are you waiting for? Pick your favourite market and find a stunning hotel in the city of your choice with HRS to make your trip that extra bit special.
Dance the night away in Berlin
As you’d expect, Germany’s capital city pulls out all the stops when it comes to its Christmas market offerings. From a beautifully illuminated Charlottenburg Palace to sledding at Brandenburg Gate or dancing all night at the après-ski party at Potsdamer Platz, there really is something for everyone on the city’s Christmas market scene.
Hamburg’s Christmas market is how you would imagine Santa’s workshop would look: there’s a vintage carousel, a toy train running along the roofs of the stalls and a ‘Flying Santa’, who sits in his sleigh above the heads of visitors and tells them Christmas stories. Enjoy the magic with a visit to the fairy tale ship anchored on the Jungfernstieg promenade, where children can take part in baking sessions and have their faces painted.
Write to Santa in Cologne
It’s impossible to miss the market in the run up to Christmas in Cologne – the red-topped stalls arranged around a stunning 25-meter high Christmas tree in front of the cathedral create a sight that’s guaranteed to impress. Hand-made crafts, sparkling lights and delicious treats are aplenty at the Cologne Christmas market, but if you want to experience something more unique then why not try out the spectacular ice rink in the square in front of the magnificently lit cathedral or write a letter to Santa at the Christmas post office?
Munich’s Christmas market can trace its histry back to the 14th century, so it’s no surprise that medieval specialities such as minstrels and daring showmen are at the heart of the city’s festive celebrations. But there’s much more to Munich’s Christmas market than mead and revelry; in fact, it’s one of the most diverse celebrations in the country. Experience something totally different at the city’s Tollwood market, where you’ll find an exciting mix of international musicians and drama groups or head to Stephansplatz for the gay Christmas market.
Get merry on mulled wine in Trier
For those who look forward to a warming cup of mulled wine over Christmas, there can be no better Christmas market than in Trier. This festive drink is at the heart of Trier’s Christmas celebrations, so much so that the market is opened by the city’s (and Germany’s only) Mulled Wine Queen. There’s plenty to entertain the kids in Trier too, such as a historic puppet theatre from Belgium and a singing Santa Claus.
One of the great things about the Aachen Christmas market is that it’s incredibly easy to reach if you live in the UK – from London it can be less than four hours by train. Whilst not as well-known as other German cities, Aachen boasts a lively, sparkling Christmas market, which spreads from the city’s beautiful town hall to Aachen Cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aachen is famed for its ‘Printe’ – a sort of gingerbread – so if you’re heading to the market, be sure to try this local delicacy.
Marvel at traditional crafts in Nuremberg
Nuremberg Christmas market is one of the most popular in Germany, not least because of its famed craft stalls. Every year 200 stall holders showcase their traditional wares in the “Little Town from Wood and Cloth”, such as Nuremberg spicy gingerbread, sweets and hand-made arts and crafts pieces. Feast your eyes on the goods on offer whilst strolling through the historical market, and be sure to taste the variety of mulled wines on offer as well as some delicious Nuremberg roast sausages.
Dortmund’s Christmas market is one of the biggest in Germany, and with its 300 stalls and what is reported to be the biggest Christmas tree in the world, even the most demanding Christmas market connoisseur is guaranteed to be impressed by the city’s offering. Dortmund’s annual celebration also includes an exciting programme from the Alter Markt Theatre Company, making it a perfect destination to visit with children.
Listen to the chime of bells in Frankfurt
It was Frankfurt’s market that inspired the German markets that take place every year in cities across the UK, so it’s no surprise that Frankfurt’s festivities are the archetype of everything a Christmas market should be. Head to the Old St.Nicholas’ Church on a Wednesday or a Saturday to hear the sound of the tower horns playing. Or if you want a truly unique experience, plan to be in the city for the Saturday before the 1st Advent, as at exactly 4.30pm on this day 50 bells from ten churches chime together in a melodic medley that can be heard all across the city.
The Christmas market of Dresden is the oldest in Germany, so if you’re looking for history and romantic charm, then this is the place to go. The main market in the city is Striezelmarkt, which takes its name from Hefestriezel, a German Christmas cake that originates from the area. Plenty of stalls in the market sell this local delicacy, so why not try a piece while taking a stroll through the picturesque streets of the city?
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