From Hamburg to Munich, and Düsseldorf to Dresden, we share the best Christmas markets in Germany that are sure to get you in the festive spirit.
Germany is famous for its iconic and beautiful Christmas markets – or Weihnachtsmarkts – which pop up across the country in the run-up to Christmas. Every year, millions of people come from all over the world to browse the decorated wooden huts and pick up traditional festive gifts; all the while enjoying all sorts of delicious German snacks like Stollen (fruit bread), Marones (chestnuts) and hot Glühwein (mulled wine). These festive markets first appeared in the German-speaking areas of Europe in the late Middle Ages. However, countries such as Germany and Austria upheld the tradition until the present day. It has become so popular that other countries have even followed suit. So if you get the chance, it is well worth visiting one of these magical Christmas markets in Germany.
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Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market, Berlin
There is a huge variety of Christmas markets to explore in Germany’s cool capital, Berlin; each with its own unique style and atmosphere. One of the most spectacular of these, however, is located in front of Charlottenburg Palace. Every year, more than 250 vendors set up huts here and sell all kinds of festive decorations, crafts, and food. There are also cozy indoor eating areas and horse-drawn carriage rides, giving the market a nostalgic vibe. This is made all the more poignant by the illuminated castle grounds which provide a romantic backdrop to the market. Visitors can sip on hot Glühwein and nibble on tasty Christmas sweets such as Stollen, spritz biscuits, and marzipan loaves. Meanwhile, little ones can hop on fun fairground rides at the Royal Christmas Market in front of the old orangery.
Other notable Christmas markets in Berlin include Gendarmenmarkt, which features entertainment from acrobats, musicians, and other performers. Meanwhile, the Potsdamer Platz Christmas market, nicknamed ‘Winter World’ features Europe’s largest mobile toboggan slide. And if you fancy ice skating, the market at Alexanderplatz has a large public rink where you can practice your skills.
Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
One of the most famous and beautiful German Christmas markets can be found in the medieval city of Cologne. Located at the foot of the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cologne Cathedral, the market centers around a magnificent Christmas tree decorated with festive ornaments and a cascade of twinkling lights. More than four million visitors from all around the world come to marvel at the stunning spectacle and pick up various gifts at the 150 stands in the Roncalliplatz.
A little further out of the city center, the Angel’s Market at Neumarkt attracts crowds of visitors who come to admire the charming decorations, wreaths, and angel figures carved from wood. The small Christmas market at Stadtgarten is also popular among those who prefer a quieter, less touristy vibe. Here you will find all kinds of gifts and trinkets on sale among the small wooden huts nestled between the tall chestnut trees.
City Hall Christmas Market, Hamburg
There are a variety of Christmas markets dotted around the city of Hamburg. However, the main and most well-known of these is the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkte in the city’s largest square. A large Christmas tree decorated with angels and golden apples marks the location in front of the Town Hall. Around two million people come to the Rathausmarkt every year to nibble on gingerbread and sip on Glühwein; all the while exploring the 80 stalls selling fine handicrafts and gifts. A lineup of comedy and illusion shows and a flying Santa Claus also provide entertainment for the crowd.
Located around the Mönckebergbrunnen and Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz in the Altstadt quarter, Winterwald in Hamburg is another popular Christmas market. Surrounded by trees decorated in festive lights, the concept of the market centers on creating a winter forest in the city center. If you happen to be in Hamburg during Advent, this is well worth a visit.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
An average of three million people a year visit the Frankfurt Christmas Market. A towering Christmas tree provides the perfect backdrop for a number of concerts and other performances at this spectacular market. Dating all the way back to 1393, this is one of the oldest Weihnachtsmarkte in Germany. It is also one of the largest, covering a huge area in central Frankfurt; including Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, Hauptwache, Mainkai, Paulsplatz, and Römerberg.
Visitors can browse more than 200 ornately decorated stalls, admire Germany’s tallest Christmas tree, and sip on hot apple wine. They can also nibble on Bethmännchen, Frankfurt’s famous almond and marzipan treats, and enjoy a Christmas cruise upon the majestic River Main. There are a number of markets in the UK affiliated with the Frankfurt Christmas Market, including a huge one in Birmingham.
Marienplatz Christmas Market, Munich
Surrounded by beautiful historical buildings and marked by a towering Christmas tree covered in lights, Munich’s famous Marienplatz is transformed into a winter wonderland come November. During this time, hundreds of decorated stalls selling traditional Bavarian wood carvings and glass crystals fill the square. Meanwhile, food stalls sell a range of traditional German treats such as Stollen, chestnuts, and Glühwein. Free music concerts begin at 17.30 every evening on Munich’s town hall balcony.
Nearby, in Neuhauser Strasse, Germany’s largest Kripperlmarkt (manger market) features authentic nativity scenes; complete with lanterns for the mangers, fodder for the animals, and gifts from the Three Wise Men. Those looking for more of a party vibe might want to head to Wintertollwood in Theresienwiese. Lively concerts, beautifully quirky crafts, and numerous ethnic food stalls can be found here until December 31.
With more than two million visitors each year, the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany. It is also one of the most famous markets in the world. It begins on the Friday preceding the first Sunday in Advent and ends on December 24; unless that day is a Sunday. The Nuremberg Christkind opens the Christmas market by reciting a festive prologue. Dressed in her gold and white dress, with her long long curls and golden crown, she remains an important symbol of the Christmas market and a representative of the city.
Around 200 wooden stalls, decorated with red and white canvas, fill the Hauptmarkt; the central square in the city’s old town. The connecting streets also come aglow with festive lights, creating a unique and magical atmosphere. Meanwhile, the surrounding churches host numerous Christmas concerts to keep visitors entertained. A variety of traditional German snacks such as gingerbread and original Nuremberg Bratwurst are also on offer at food booths around the square. Clouds of smoke waft through the air, spreading the delicious scent of roasting sausages.
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden dates all the way back to 1434 and is considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world. More than three million visitors from all over the world come to browse the 240 stands and enjoy various attractions. These range from Christmas carol evenings and gospel performances, to dance nights and the famous Stollenfest. This sees Dresden’s top bakers and pastry chefs join thousands of guests to celebrate their famous Dresdner Christstollen fruit cakes.
Stollenfest begins with a colorful procession through the old town. This is followed by the cutting of the giant Stollen by the ‘master baker of the royal court’ and the Dresden Stollenmädchen (‘Stollen maiden’). Meanwhile, handicraft traditions are brought to life at the Christmas display workshops. Here, you can watch master craftspeople and bakers create their masterpieces. Little ones can also explore the children’s discovery zone where every day, Santa opens another little door of the Advent calendar.
Dating back more than 300 years, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. It is also one of the biggest, with more than 300 stalls sprawling from the heart of the city into the surrounding squares. The atmosphere is made all the more magical by the surrounding churches and castles in Marktplatz; not to mention the scent of cinnamon and vanilla, and Bratwurst and Glühwein, wafting through the air.
A busy program of music and entertainment unfolds during the 29-day festive season. This includes performances by choirs and music groups from all over the Stuttgart region. Daily concerts in the inner courtyard of the old castle (Alten Schloss) and on the town hall steps also add to the festive atmosphere. There are lots of things to keep little ones happy, too. This includes a real mini steam engine, a live nativity scene with animals, and a nostalgic fairground ride. The Children’s Fairyland on the Schlossplatz square is also well worth a visit for families. Here, kids can decorate their own gingerbread hearts, bake their own Christmas cookies, and design their own candles.
If you like variety then a visit to Engelchenmarkt in Düsseldorf should definitely be on your festive travel list. Each year, a total of seven different markets, each with different themes, transform the city into a winter wonderland. Visitors can stroll along the one-kilometer stretch of stalls, which sprawl outward from Heinrich-Heine-Platz in front of the swanky Carsch-Haus department store. Along the way, they can marvel at the imaginative designs of the huts and browse a huge variety of goods.
The Engelchenmarkt offers something a bit different from other Christmas markets in Germany as you will find far more than just traditional festive goodies on offer. Among the stalls, you will discover everything from car accessories and clothing to vinyl records and vintage phones. This makes the market well worth a visit if you’re looking to pick up some little treasures while lapping up the fantastic atmosphere.