Christmas is fast approaching, and I can’t wait to visit some of the 10 prettiest Christmas markets in Germany! There’s nothing better at Christmas time than strolling thorugh rows of beautifully lit stalls and browsing through window displays. Surrounded by the fragrant cloud of favourite Christmas scents, like roasted almonds, cotton candy, spicy mulled wine and gingerbread, take a stroll through the local market place, meet with friends wearing their woolly hats at the mulled wine stall or wander through the cosy alleyways where a multitude of handicrafts are offered.
These are the 10 prettiest Christmas markets in Germany
Since each and every Christmas market has its own special features, it would simply be unfair to choose the prettiest one. I find all marketplaces pretty in winter and simply enjoy this time of year so much that I want to share with you my favourite 10 Christmas markets in Germany.
Striezelmarkt in Dresden
The first example is already real highlight. The beautiful Ore Mountains enchant with several gorgeous Christmas markets during the holiday season and one of the prettiest ones is definitely the Striezelmarkt in Dresden! It also happens to be the oldest Christmas market in Germany as it was established in 1434 when the Saxon Elector Friedrich II governed a one-day free market on the Old Market Square, one day before Christmas Eve.
Besides the medieval flair in the stable yard of the Dresden Royal Palace, there’s also the famous Dresden Stollen here. Let yourself be delighted by the Saxon folk art, such as pottery from Lausatia, wickerwork and plauen lace or carvings und turned wooden wares. An absolute highlight is the Stollenfest, during which a giant Stollen cake weighing about 4 tons is carried from Zwinger Palace, past the Semperoper, Dresden Cathedral and Frauenkirche all the way to the Striezelmarkt! You can also admire the 14.6 m high step pyramid here, the biggest one in the world and decorated with 42 figures, which even made it to the Guinness book of records.
Opening times: 26.11 – 24.12.2015
Dortmund Christmas Market
The Christmas Market in Dortmund shines just with its sheer size. There’s so much to see and admire here that you should dedicate a whole day to it. The Dortmund Christmas Market is especially famous for its enormously big Christmas tree – it’s made up of 1,700 pines, reaches a height of 45m and dominates the market square with a festively illuminated angel figure at the peak of the dark mass of pine trees. About 3.6 million Germans as well as tourists from abroad come and marvel at more than 300 beautiful products on sale here.
The market also has some culinary delicacies to discover: there’s the hearty Westphalian barbecued ham, Dortmunder Reibekuchen and the Krakauer sausages, but also many, many sweet treats are offered such as roasted almonds and delicious waffles. Handikrafts, Christmas decorations and extraordinary toys can be marveled at here just like in a Christmas village and there’s the fairytale show for the little ones too.
Opening times: 19.11 – 30.12.2015
International Christmas market in Essen
You wouldn’t think it at first but the International Christmas market in Essen is something quite special! Of course the locals are aware of it themselves, but when it comes to the whole of Germany, the Lichterwochen in Essen are still quite the insiders tip. As the name suggests, it’s not just German specialties which are offered at the International Christmas market in Essen. There’s a multi-coloured variety of delicacies here – some stalls have the Belgian pralines, on the others you’ll find poffertjes from the Netherlands or even French crêpes, and so on. Besides international culinary specialties there are also handicrafts from unique regions on offer at about 260 stands. This Christmas market is especially extensive, there’s so much to see that it’s spreading through the entire city centre! A real highlight can be found at Kennedyplatz, where a network of fairy lights with about 500 colourful lights glistens for the visitors.
It’s constructed in the image of a small, timber house village and the stalls are arranged in groups according to a specific design by architects. All of this to make your visit even more beautiful!
Opening times: 19.11 – 23.12.2015
Frankfurt Christmas market around the Römer
The historic Old Town surrounding the Römerberg square, with its idyllic and edging building facades and the adjacent St. Paul’s Square, is a beautiful setting throughout the year. Whether just in the run-up to Christmas or not, the contrast between the old Frankfurt buildings and the high-tech appearance of the reflecting highrise buildings of banks is fascinating and certainly worth a visit. So it’s not surprising that Frankfurt, a city with a unique charm, stands out to the international audience especially in the time before Christmas!
This great, contemplative and romantic setting offers a Christmas merry-go-rounds and stalls, as well as the local specialties such as the Bethmännchen (Frankfurt’s pastry) which make for a lot of fun. Frankfurt’s Christmas market was first mentioned in 1393 and is made up of around 200 stalls today, which spread all over the Römberg Square and surrounding alleyways.
Opening times: 25.11 – 22.12.2015
Christkindlmarkt in Munich
The popular Christkindl markets pop up all around Bavaria in the time just before Christmas. So it’s not surprising that Munich decided to step up its game. At the Marienplatz in Munich, you’ll find the largest and oldest Christkindlmarkt which attracts crowds of visitors from near and far, with its 140 stalls and a 20,000m² surface area, and it also palces a lot of value on local traditions. It was first mentioned in 1310 and was called the Nikolausmarkt at the time, making it the oldest market in Germany! The most special highlight is the 30m Christmas tree decorated with 2,500 lights outside the Town Hall. It’s sponsored every year by a different area from the region, and even abroad (Austria and Italy). In order for it to be attractive for tourists, it’s transported to the city centre and takes its place there. It’s actually become so popular that a perennial waiting list was introduced.
Since 2012, the Kripperlmarkt has returned to its original place, namely in the direct vicinity of the Christkindlmarkt, at the pederstrian area between Stachus and Marienplatz. Here you’ll find hand-made as well as industrially manufactured nativity figures, mangers and craft accessories.
Opening times: 27.11 – 24.12-2015
Lübeck Christmas market
Lübeck‘s city centre is famed around the world for its beauty and attracts numerous visitors. And the Christmas market, organised there in winter and set in such beautiful surrounding, is simply gorgeous! The Christmas market, complete with a Christmas bakery, an enchanted forest and even a live Advent calendar, is sure to excite every family! There’s a lot to discover in the historic Old Town and on the marketplace, Koberg. There are handicraft markets and a historic Christmas market in front of the Town Hall with its brick Gothic facade dating back to the 13th century. The Old Town is beautifully decorated with lights and fir trees and the booths are perched under a web of colourful fairy lights. And it looks like this since 1648. There’s also a Lübecker Weihnachtspass, which is a coupon booklet for some of the little wishes you might have while walking around the Christmas market.
Opening times: 23.11 – 31.12.2015
Christmas market in Leipzig
You won’t find a larger freestanding Advent calendar anywhere else in the world but Leipzig! With a surface area of about 857m², it takes up a whole building facade and conjures a new beautiful picture with each window opening every day, until a grand festival at the end. It’s a magnificent setting in front of which you can treat yourself to one or two glasses of punch. The celebrations of the Christmas market can be dated back to 1458 and the multi-storey merry-go-round proves this senior age today. The Christmas market in Leipzig is a fantastic experience, especially for the little ones: they can chat to Santa on the stage oe explore the enchanted forest! There are also many carnival rides guaranteed to provide lots of fun and there’s also the elves’ workshop where they can create anything they want.
The model train exhibit provides some fun for the bigger kids and everyone can get excited about the Christmas pyramid and the Finnish village! The Old Town Hall houses concerts by trombone players which you can enjoy while treating yourself to a hearty Bratwurst, a cup of kale stew or one of the spicy meat rolls.
Opening times: 25.11 – 23.12.2015
Christmas markets at Hamburg’s town hall
One of the prettiest Christmas markets takes place in front of the impressive town hall in Hamburg. The historic, beautifully decorated building sits right next to the Binnenalster and offers a lovely view not just for the swans perched on the steps. While virtually every district in Hamburg has its own, smaller Christmas market, the festivities in the town square are definitely something special! The architecture was designed by the Roncalli Circus director Bernhard Paul and looks beautifully historic and cozy.
According to the motto art not commerce, a proposal of a colourful candyshop in the town hall square was given up. This brought success: about 3 million visitors flock to the marketplace every year. The flying Christmas man is quite popular too: at certain times of day, he hovers above the heads of marveling passers-by and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!
Opening times: 23.11 . 23.12.2015
Christmas markets in Münster
The city of Münster has five Christmas markets, which are so close to each other that you can combine a visit to all of them into a single, lovely walk! You can enjoy the blaze of lights at the Platz des Westfällischen Friedens and the Lichtermarkt St. Lamberti, where you’ll also find a 20 m tall Christmas tree. There are some excellent handicrafts to admire everywhere and the Christmas village at Kiepenkerl captivates all, the old and the young! The Christmas markets in Münster count as some of the most beautiful markets in Germany and it’s known all around the country that you have to pay a visit to them at least once! It’s also not surprising that the little booths surrounded by a beautiful, charming scenery are accompanied by a reflective, truly cosy atmosphere.
In addition you can also admire the 6m tall Christmas pyramid at the Advent market at Aegidiimarkt, as well as the exciting fairy tale world for children. On the Lamberti, the beautiful, small, blue cottages with peaked roofs offer a nice little touch to the Lichtermarkt.
Opening times: 24.11 – 23.12.2015
Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg
Oh, the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg is just so pretty! I just can’t wait for the Christkind, with its golden locks and a beautiful robe, to stand on to of the white-red roofs and recite the prologue of the market, as is the tradition.
The Christkindlmarkt is known all around the world and it’s definitely one of those things which you just have to see at least once! Underneath the gorgeous blaze of lights is a special, contemplative atmosphere and when snow begins to fall on the little village made of wood and cloth, there’s just no stopping of the uncolntrolled Christmas cheer!
Just stroll throught the Christkindlmarkt with an original Nuremberg gingerbread or a Rostbratwurst or two. A Christmas village for the children is constructed at the Hans-Sach-Platz and visitors can experience some great attractions here: you can bake your own cookies, paint some jars, write a letter filled with present wishes to the Christ Child, who is a traditional Christmas gift-bringer in Germany, and take a spin on the many merry-go-rounds.
Opening times: 27.11 – 24.12.2015
Christmas markets in Germany: you’ll be spoiled for choice!
It really isn’t easy to choose 10 prettiest Christmas markets in Germany. Since virtually every market in the German-speaking world has its own unique features and every region has its own characteristics and specialties which make up a truly unique charm, every one of them has to be discovered on its own. And seriously: mulled wine tastes best where ever you’re surrounded by those you care about and where you can all spend a nice evening together, right? So you’re lucky, that Christmas is still a few weeks away and there’s still the opportunity to travel to Germany and explore one or two Christmas markets.
And what about you? Are you planning on visiting a nearby Christmas market this year? Or is it too cheesy and commercialised for you? Have you ever visited any other German Christmas markets which you think should have made it to this list? Let me know! :)