Nothing brightens the spirits during a cold winter quite like the annual arrival of the German Christmas markets. Full of traditional treats, twinkling lights and the comfort of a warming glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), these yuletide gatherings are impossible to resist – with every city offering something different.
As the festive period is almost upon us, we take a look at some of the best Christmas markets Germany has to offer.
Berlin Christmas Markets
21st November – 27th December
Cologne Christmas Market
21st November – 23rd December
To the west, the city of Cologne – Köln in German – is home to a number of Christmas markets, the largest and most popular of which is held at the city’s imposing cathedral. With traditional music and 160 stands full of festive wares, it makes for an unforgettable experience. For kids, the nearby Alter Markt is a must for its Santa’s grotto, along with its illuminated fairground rides and toy stalls. According to Cologne legend, ‘Heinzelmännchen’ gnomes guard each market in the city, ensuring that every item sold across each stall is authentic, so any gifts you do pick up will be truly unique.
Munich Christmas Market
25th November – 24th December
With roots tracing back as far as the 14th Century, Munich Christmas markets are a highly traditional affair, offering Bavarian treats, intricately carved wooden toys and handmade wax candles. Set in the shadow of the magnificent city hall, Marienplatz Christmas market is one of the Munich’s most atmospheric, with Advent music played every evening from the balcony of the gothic structure. Inside, children aged 6-12 can enjoy the Heavenly Workshop, taking part in baking and arts and crafts activities. With over 20 different markets to choose within the city, you’ll find something for everyone – from the LGBT Pink Christmas Market at Stephansplatz to the small-scale beer garden setting of the Chinese Tower market.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
23rd November – 22nd December
Set in the surroundings of the historic Paulsplatz, the Frankfurt Christmas market is one of Germany’s longest standing, with records dating as far back as 1393. Famous for its elaborately decorated stalls and cosy log cabins, visitors can enjoy a steaming cup of Apfelwein (apple wine) and a freshly baked Bethmännchen (a local delicacy made from almond and rose water) all under the glistening lights of one of Germany’s tallest Christmas trees. For delicious treats, the Honey House is a must. The 300-year-old timber structure is rebuilt for the festive season every year, and houses a plethora of products all based around the sweet stuff – from honey wine to beeswax candles.
Hamburg Christmas Market
21st November – 23rd December
With carousels, lake boat tours and lovingly decorated stalls, the Hamburg Christmas Market has so much to offer at Yuletide. Woodcarvers, silversmiths and cooks come from all over Germany to sell their festive wares, while there’s a colourful Christmas parade which travels through the decorated city centre every weekend. A truly magical place, young explorers can catch a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh before watching it take flight from the market’s glistening rooftops. The effect is truly remarkable.
If you’ve been inspired to plan your very own Christmas escape, take a look at our adventure page for more info.