These German Christmas markets are straight out of a storybook.
Fröhliche Weihnachten! Nothing beats being home with your family for the holidays, but hopping around European Christmas markets (or even European-style Christmas markets in the U.S.) comes pretty close. These German Christmas markets are filled to the brim with holiday cheer — and flowing with glühwein.
The Dresdner Striezelmarkt, considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world, has roots dating all the way back to 1434, when it was just a one-day event. Aside from its massive size — there are well over 200 stalls — other notable features include the world’s tallest step pyramid and a Ferris wheel with views over the market. It’s no wonder nearly three million people visit the Dresdner Striezelmarkt each year. The 588th Dresdner Striezelmarkt will take place at Altmarkt from Nov. 23 to Dec. 24, 2022. For those seeking something a bit more intimate, there are various Christmas markets, both large and small, held in Dresden each year.
Leipzig Christmas Market
Open from Nov. 22 to Dec. 23, 2022, the Leipzig Christmas market is one of Germany’s oldest and largest. With more than 250 stalls tucked in the historic Marktplatz, punctuated by a massive, marvelous Saxon spruce Christmas tree, the Leipzig Christmas market has been delighting merrymakers since its humble 1458 roots. Other highlights are, of course, the culinary treats, traditional medieval market, and variety of performances on the market square stage.
Trier Christmas Market
Open every day (except Nov. 20) from Nov. 18 to Dec. 22, 2022, the Trier Christmas market has been a beloved German holiday tradition for more than 40 years. Set in a romantic medieval setting surrounded by the Trier Cathedral and Main Market, the Trier Christmas market sports 95 booths and a family-friendly program that changes daily, with highlights like historical puppet theater and the serenades of songsmiths. While Frankfurt, which has one of the most famous and easily accessible Christmas markets in Germany, is about two hours away, Luxembourg is only half an hour.
Berlin Christmas Markets
If you want to visit several Christmas markets in one city, Germany's capital is a great bet — there are more than 100 Berlin Christmas markets to choose from. Whether you shop Kurfürstendamm and hit the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market on the west end of town or ride the Ferris wheel, skate the ice rink, and peruse the Old Berlin-style market alleys at the Berlin City Hall Christmas market, there’s an option for everyone. Most of the markets open in November and some stay open past Christmas, through the end of the year.
Cologne Christmas Markets
Cologne is another city dotted with Yuletide markets during November and December. Don’t miss Nikolausdorf, or Nicholas Village, on Rudolfplatz near the trendy Belgian Quarter, where you’ll encounter cozy village lanes, charming half-timbered houses, and hot drinks served in cups shaped like Santa’s boots. The dazzlingly illuminated Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral, with its huge decorated Christmas tree, is another must-see.
Offering an authentic German Christmas market experience, the Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the country’s most romantic and transportive, thanks in part to the 17th-century riverside town setting and backdrop of the glowing Heidelberg Castle. Spread across five different squares, the Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt embodies the warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas. Don’t miss the ice rink at Karlsplatz and the illuminated fir trees at Kornmarkt. This year’s market dates are Nov. 21 to Dec. 22, 2022.
Düsseldorf Christmas Market
The Düsseldorf Christmas market is not one but seven markets, each themed around the varied wares on offer, from edible delights to dazzling decor. Taking place from Nov. 17 to Dec. 30, 2022, the Düsseldorf Christmas market will have more than 200 elaborately decorated Christmas huts to wander, staged at various locations throughout the city center.
One of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, or “the little city of wood and cloth,” is held each year on Nuremberg’s Main Market Square. Officially opened by the Christkind — a young Nuremberg woman dressed in an angelic dress with a golden crown — the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is famous for its Rauschgold angels, wooden nutcrackers, nativity scenes, and colorful stars, as well as culinary highlights such as gingerbread-like lebkuchen, mulled wine, and bratwurst. Those with little ones won’t want to miss the Christmas city for children on Hans-Sachs-Platz. This year, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt will take place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 24, 2022.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
More than 300 years old, the Stuttgart Christmas market is another German holiday favorite. Because there’s a prize awarded each year for the most beautiful stall (chosen by a jury), the 300 booths here are all ornately adorned. Enjoy the festive sights and sounds of Stuttgart at Christmas as you stroll — and the soul-warming scent of cinnamon, vanilla, glühwein, and roasting bratwurst in the air. The Stuttgart Christmas market will be open from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, 2022.
Braunschweig Christmas Market
Dating back to 1505, the Braunschweig Christmas market has been beloved for more than five centuries. From Nov. 23 to Dec. 29, 2022, the old quarter around Braunschweig’s St. Blasii Cathedral will transform into a magical Christmas wonderland, with 150 vendors offering a range of goodies, from typical wooden toys to leather goods, jewelry, illuminated Christmas stars, and, of course, delicious food.
At the Braunschweig Christmas market, the glühwein is tailored to the setting: It’s served with a shot of local Braunschweiger Mumme, a thick malt extract. If you love it, you can also try Mumme beer and baked rolls at the Mumme stand. Plus, you won't want to miss the Christmas concerts at St. Blasii Cathedral, the life-size nativity scene, and the ice rink at the Kohlmarkt.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt
It doesn’t get much more picture-perfect than the medieval walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but go around Christmastime and you’ll be swept into a half-timbered holiday fairy tale. Taking place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt is an Advent experience. Don’t leave without sampling schneeballen (snowballs), a local treat made from balled shortcut pastry that’s fried and coated with confectioners' sugar and other toppings of choice.
Rüdesheim Christmas Market of Nations
For something a bit different from the classic German Christmas market, head to Rüdesheim for the annual Christmas Market of Nations, now in its 28th year. Here in the wintry Rhine Valley, more than 17 countries (representing six of the seven continents) gather to offer their unique goods and specialties. The market takes place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 23, 2022, but the traditional St. Thomas Night parade on Dec. 20 is a highlight.
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