German Christmas Markets

It’s hard to find a comparison anywhere in the world with the Christmas tradition held each year in Germany known as the Christmas markets. These have become as much a part of the season as pine trees and Christmas presents.

Part of the reason for the lasting popularity of Christmas markets is that they are multi-sensory ways of experiencing Christmas. You don’t just visit a Christmas market in Germany; you watch it, taste it, hear it and smell it.

Put simplistically, a German Christmas market (also known as Christkindlesmarkt) is a street market that occurs during advent, during the four weeks before Christmas Day. Some of the popular Christmas market attractions include a Nativity Scene, carved nutcrackers, and toasted, candied almonds known as Gebrannte Mandeln, Christmas biscuits, Bratwurst, and Glühwein, a hot mulled wine that might or might not include a shot of brandy. There are also handmade toys, books, Christmas tree decorations, and other handmade items.

There’s also entertainment during the Christmas markets, usually starting about 5:00 p.m. The entertainment might include such events as traditional trombone recitals or choral serenades.

Most people agree that the best days for visiting the Christmas markets are Monday through Friday since the crowds are so overpowering on weekends. Also, the booths have more to offer during the week, when the goods have not been pored over as much.

Bargains are hard to find at Christmas markets, so that would be the wrong reason to go. The primary attraction is the atmosphere filled to the brim with pure Christmas spirit.

While several of the Christmas markets are highly regarded, Nürnberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, located on the Hauptmarkt, is probably the most noted one. Overlooking this market is The Frauenkirche, which has a bell clock with wooden figures cavorting on it throughout the day.

But this is by no means the only exciting Christmas market to participate in. In fact, there are so many outstanding ones that the hardest part will be deciding where you want to go. Most locals suggest you sample at least two of them, one from a city with top shopping destinations and one from a small village if you want something a bit more quaint.

If you’re traveling this autumn and winter, and want to sample a new Christmas experience, then visit Germany’s Christmas markets. They begin toward the last week in November and continue through Christmas Eve. They’re usually open every day from about 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.