Reading through the posts here on European Travelista you can very easily pick up on how much I love Germany! So this next statement will not come as a surprise to many readers. One of the things at the very top of my Bucket List is to spend my birthday enjoying the Christmas Markets in Germany!
What is probably most amazing is that I haven’t made it yet. I’m even amazed by this fact but it is sadly true, I have not been to a Christmas Market in Germany or any other foreign country. Now that we are in the Christmas market “season”, I have once again been dreaming about my visit!
I am lured by the quaint stalls all dressed up in holiday splendor and the smells of baked apples, cookies, and gluhwein! Of course another draw is the seasonal festbier. Besides food there are nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, hand carved nativity sets, hand painted blown glass baubles, music and much, much more! It all has been calling me for too many years.
There is one problem, with over 2,500 Christmas markets in Germany which ones should I visit?
Of course I’m always up for a trip to Munich where you can enjoy daily live alpine music as you wander the Marienplatz or Nuremburg would be awesome with its medieval atmosphere and wonderful bratwurst and roast almonds. Cologne would be magical with the cathedral as the back drop but I really want to experience some of the markets in smaller villages too and since Christmas traditions vary by region traversing the country would be special!
A journey to the east brings you to the Christmas market at Dresden, home to the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Dating back to 1434 this market is named after its famous cake or stollen. Look for carved wood items, pottery, lace and gingerbread all made by locals! Or maybe a trip to Lauscha which is the birthplace of the glass ornaments that decorate so many of our trees. If a ride through the snowy countryside in an historical carriage pulled by a steam engine on the Harz narrow-gauge railway would be appealing, then a visit to Wernigerode and its timber framed houses may be for you.
For a more nautical theme, head north to the markets in Husum or Rostock. Romantics will enjoy the market at Glucksberg Castle where a decorated bridge leads across the moat to the courtyard where you’ll be enchanted by the more than 70 stalls sitting near the Christmas tree. By the way, the castle is open to visitors too! Or visit Lubeck for the Iceworld Snow and Ice Sculpture festival.
Traveling west brings us to Schwalmstadt where you will find a Christmas market steeped in fairytales! Schwalmstadt is where the Brothers Grimm wrote some of their stories, including “Little Red Riding Hood”. Enjoy needlework from local artisans and local food specialties. Lanterns and candles make the market at Broich Castle seem very medieval! Enjoy storytellers as they wander town reenacting scenes from the Nativity while sipping wine and mead. For a very international market, stop by Rudesheim am Rhein. The market in the old quarter contains stalls from 12 countries who share their Christmas customs with visitors!
Southern Germany is home to the Romantic Road and there are many villages near Rothenburg ob der Tauber that would be of interest. Busy Rothenburg is one of my favorite villages and I would love to see it all lit up and decorated for Christmas! Others villages that may be worth a visit include Prien with its Christmas market on an island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee! A trip around Lake Constance on the Christmas ship would be equally amazing. Also luring is Altotting with is celebration of Alpine Advent songs complete with alphorns!
Whew, too many Christmas markets for one trip or maybe even a lifetime!