One of the best ways to get in the Christmas spirit during the holiday season is by discovering the magic of a traditional German Christmas market. Nearly every town and city of every size has its own version of a Christmas market, making for a wide variety of experiences to discover. Whether you take part in a massive market like Dresden or Munich’s, or visit one in a quaint old village, you’re bound to get into a Christmas mood!
History of German Christmas Markets
A lot of Germany’s early existing Christmas markets trace their roots back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Dresden’s very first market, Striezelmarkt, opened up in 1434 on Christmas Eve. Over in Nuremberg, their Christmas markets began back in 1628, although some believe their first market started back in 1530. Early Christmas markets also took place in Vienna, Munich, Bautzen, and Frankfurt.
What Can You Find in A German Christmas Market?
Christmas markets in Germany feel like they are a universe away from the commercialized version of Christmas that we’re used to here in the States. They typically feature a romantic setting – even in big cities, the markets are usually situated in the old town section of the city. The atmosphere is low-key – the smell of homemade Christmas treats is in the air, locals stroll deliberately between stalls cupping a piping hot mulled wine, and local orchestras and choirs perform renditions of Christmas carols. And while it may seem that Christmas markets in Germany are all very similar to each other, a closer look will reveal a wide array of local variations in the goods being offered. It’s possible to do justice to a grand tour of Germany simply by visiting the Christmas markets around the nation.
What are the Most Famous Christmas Markets in Germany?
There are some towns and cities whose Christmas markets deserve special mention:
- Cologne: With the Cathedral in the background, Cologne’s Christmas market attracts millions of visitors every year.
- Dresden: Considered by plenty to be the oldest existing Christmas market in the world, established in 1434 as a one day market. Dresden’s markets are best known for the giant candle pyramid display – the largest in Germany!
- Jena: this historic town hosted one of the most consequential battles of the Napoleonic Wars – and these days hosts one of the most unique and fun Christmas markets in Germany. Come at the beginning of the season to see the cutting of a four meter long stollen (German fruit bread)!
- Leipzig: Leipzig’s market hosts the world’s largest advent calendar, as well as a fairytale forest and a medieval market.
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