Christmas is a magical time in Germany. Postcard perfect scenes greet wearied tourists who arrive in the country for the winter season. Seasonal shopping lures tourists to Germany in the busiest shopping period of the year. Continental Christmas Markets have spread throughout Europe, but only Germany offers a truly authentic experience. Walk away from the high street this Christmas and take a tour of Germany’s most exciting Christmas Markets.
Imagine small wooden huts lining town squares, draped in twinkling fairy lights casting a glow over glistening snow. In the pale dusk of a winter evening, these streets are abundant with shoppers choosing between local hand-made goods and food. The spectacular seasonal scene is often accompanied by carollers singing German versions of your favourite Christmas songs and hymns. Hear the harmonic original of “Silent Night” (Stille Nacht) while sampling homemade Glühwein (mulled wine).
So, where should you go for the best of Germany’s Christmas Markets?
Friday before Advent-December 24th
The Christmas Market at Nuremberg is by far the largest in Germany, attracting the most visitors annually. Named Christkindlesmarkt, (or Christ Child Market), its best attraction is the opening of the market on the Friday before Advent. Each year a local young woman is awarded the title of Ambassador of the market, known as Christkind (Christmas Angel) who leads the ceremony from the Church balcony in the main square. The market is renowned for its old-fashioned feel in tradition with the medieval town. The market provides authentic cookery and produce.
You must try the Nürnberger Rostbratwürste – delicious cocktail sausages served with sauerkraut. For dessert, indulge in some Lebkuchen (spicy gingerbread).
Dresden’s stunning baroque architecture once earned the city the title “Florence of the Elbe”. It is home to one of the oldest of Germany’s Christmas markets, Striezelmarkt, founded in 1434. Here you must try traditional German Christmas Cake “Striezel” (known as Stollen in English) for which the market is named. The cake is so important to the market that there is a festival help annually on December 8th, called Stollenfest. A giant Stollen cake is paraded through the city for an honorific cutting of the cake. Much like the Christkind (Christmas Angel) of Nuremburg’s market, Dresden has its very own Stollenmädchen (Stollen woman) who cuts the first slice. A giant Christmas Grotto is created within the market.
26 November to 23 December
Cologne has many Christmas Markets making it the perfect choice for those who want variety. Spreading out from Gothic Cathedral Square in the city centre markets pop up in each district. The most scenic is along the banks of the River Rhine, the Hafenmarkt. Daytime visitors can also visit the chocolate museum. Specialities of Cologne include cinnamon biscuits called Spekulatius and the locally brewed light lager Kolsch.
30 November to 24 December
Munich is the host city to the most markets. With over one dozen markets to choose from visitors are offered spectacular variety. The largest of these is Christkindlmarkt which is located under the city’s ancient bell tower, the Nues Rathaus. The small market of Kripperlmarkt is often regarded as the most picturesque due to its nativity scenes. The Tollwood market is unlike other Christmas markets in that it is modern. For a change in atmosphere, venture here for international cuisine and live music.
Before you book your trip have a look at http://www.live-like-a-german.