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German Christmas Markets

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
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If you plan on visiting Germany over the festive period, no European country celebrates Christmas quite like the Germans and visiting a German Christmas market in the winter is a must. They usually take place from the end of November up until around a day or two before Christmas itself.

It’s All About the Atmosphere

A German Christmas market is all about the sights, sounds, smells and tastes and quite appropriately, much of the atmosphere stems from the excitement of seeing so many children wrapped up in their winter ‘woolies’ not able to contain themselves as they gaze all around the magical displays which have been specially created.

Although they differ from city to city, a huge Christmas tree forms the centerpiece to all German Christmas market celebrations. Tree ornaments and sweets are piled high up in the tree and the kids are able to ride on ponies, enjoy puppet shows and, of course, meet Father Christmas.

Food and Drink

As it’s the German winter, the food and drink available is geared towards making you feel warm inside. You can take your pick from hot sausages, roasted chestnuts and hot spiced wine. Bock beer is also a winter speciality. There is usually a heated tent to gain temporary respite from the cold at most markets.

When to Go

The markets get busy over the Christmas period, especially at weekends so if you can, try to visit on a weekday. However, if you can only come at weekends, make sure you get there early as you’ll have more of a selection to choose from at the booths.

Don’t expect to pick up a bargain however. You’ll not find them and you’ll end up paying the same or even more for goods that you can buy elsewhere. Don’t let that put you off visiting the Christmas markets however. They’re all about the magical festive atmosphere and if you’ve not been before, you’ll not have experienced anything quite like them.

Christmas markets are everywhere in Germany but here’s what you can expect at a few of the more famous ones:

  • Nürnberg’s Christkindlemarkt has a bell clock upon which wooden figures come out to celebrate several times a day. There’s also the edible prune man who is made of dried fruit and nuts and there’s the tinsel angel with her waxed face. With its glockenspiel playing festive Christmas tunes, this is certainly the biggest of all Germany’s Christmas markets but don’t let size determine which market you go to as the atmosphere at all of the Christmas markets is highly unique and just as good – whether you’re visiting one of the larger cities or one of Germany’s smaller communities
  • Augsburg’s Christmas market’s unique selling point is its city hall which becomes one giant advent calendar with various Christmas scenes depicted in each of its windows
  • Berlin is Christmas market ‘heaven’ with at least one market taking place in each of its 12 districts. One features a girl playing the patron saint of light with a wreath of lighted candles in her hair. Another has a ferris wheel and carousels and amidst this there’s a small railroad which ferries the little children through a fairytale forest beneath a huge Christmas tree.

Wherever you go in Germany however, there is bound to be a special Christmas market close to you and it will certainly leave a happy and lasting impression on you.

So popular have they become with foreign tourists too that the one in Frankfurt has actually been exported to Birmingham each year whereby its creators come to Birmingham and put on what’s been described as the most authentic German market outside of Germany.

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