Germany is famous for its beautiful and iconic Christmas markets – or Weihnachtsmärkte – 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 an array of delicious German snacks such as 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 have upheld the tradition which has now become a much-loved calendar highlight. So if you get the chance, it is well worth visiting one of these magical Christmas markets in Germany.
- Christmas Market at Charlottenburg Palace – Berlin
- Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom – Cologne
- Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkte – Hamburg
- Frankfurt Christmas Market – Frankfurt
- Münchner Christkindlmarkt – Munich
- Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt – Nuremberg
- Dresdner Striezelmarkt – Dresden
- Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt – Stuttgart
- Düsseldorf Christmas Market – Düsseldorf
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Christmas Market at Charlottenburg Palace – 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. However, one of the most spectacular of these is located in front of Charlottenburg Palace.
Every year, more than 250 vendors set up huts in front of the majestic landmark, selling 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.
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. Notably, due to construction work, the market will take place at the nearby Bebelplatz in 2023.
Meanwhile, Winterwelt (Winter World) at Potsdamer Platz boasts Europe’s largest mobile toboggan slide, standing at 12 meters high and 70 meters long. If you prefer ice skating, however, the market at Alexanderplatz has a large public rink where you can practice your skills.
Charlottenburg Palace: 27 November – 31 December 2023 (closed on 24 December)
Gendarmenmarkt: 27 November – 31 December 2023
Winterwelt: 28 October 2023 – 1 January 2024
Alexanderplatz: 27 November – 26 December 2023
Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom – Cologne
The medieval city of Cologne is home to one of the most famous and impressive German Christmas markets. Located at the foot of the stunning UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral, Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom centers around a magnificent Christmas tree decorated with 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 Markt der Engle (Market of Angels) at Neumarkt attracts crowds of visitors who come to admire the charming decorations, wreaths, and angelic 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.
Cologne Christmas Market: 23 November – 23 December 2023
Markt der Engle: 20 November – 23 December 2023
Stadtgarten: 20 November – 23 December 2023
Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkte – Hamburg
There are a variety of Christmas markets dotted around Hamburg. However, the biggest and most well-known is the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkte, located in front of Hamburg City Hall at Rathausplatz.
Marked by a towering illuminated Christmas tree adorned with angels and golden apples, the market attracts close to three million people each year. And with so many delights on offer, it’s not hard to see why.
Children will no doubt watch in awe as a real-life Santa Claus dashes across the sky in his sparkling sleigh, waving to the crowds below. They can also marvel at the large model train that runs above the stalls in the Spielzeuggase (toy street).
Meanwhile, older visitors can sip on hot Glühwein and nibble on an array of culinary delights such as roasted almonds, gingerbread, and bratwurst at the Spezialitätengasse (street of food). They can also browse 100 stalls selling handmade gifts, jewelry, artwork, and more.
Although smaller, Winterwald is another popular Christmas market in Hamburg. Located in the shopping area near Steinstraße, it features an array of traditional wooden stalls surrounded by pine trees decorated with festive lights. This creates the illusion of being in an enchanted winter forest in the heart of the city. Needless to say, if you are in Hamburg during the lead-up to Christmas, this is well worth a visit.
Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkte: 27 November – 23 December 2023
Winterwald: To be confirmed
Frankfurt Christmas Market – Frankfurt
Dating all the way back to 1393, Frankfurt Christmas Market is one of the oldest Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany. It is also one of the largest, covering a huge area of the city that includes Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, Hauptwache, Mainkai, Paulsplatz, and Römerberg.
Each year, around three million people come to browse the spectacular market and enjoy a number of concerts and other performances set against the backdrop of a towering Christmas tree.
Visitors can browse more than 200 ornately decorated stalls, nibble on Bethmännchen – Frankfurt’s famous almond and marzipan treats – and enjoy a special Christmas market cruise along the Main River.
Interestingly, the city of Birmingham in the UK hosts an annual Frankfurt Christmas Market which offers an authentic slice of German festive fun. However, some might argue that you can’t beat the real thing.
Frankfurt Christmas Market: 27 November – 21 December 2023
Birmingham‘s Frankfurt Christmas Market: 2 November – 24 December 2023
Münchner Christkindlmarkt – Munich
Surrounded by beautiful historical buildings and marked by a giant twinkling Christmas tree, Munich Christmas Market (Münchner Christkindlmarkt) is another dazzling sight to behold.
Come November, the city’s main square, Marienplatz, is transformed into a winter wonderland scattered with hundreds of decorated stalls selling traditional Bavarian wood carvings and glass crystals.
Meanwhile, food stalls serve a range of traditional German delicacies such as Stollen, chestnuts, and Glühwein. Visitors can also enjoy free music concerts performed on the town hall balcony every evening, including traditional Bavarian folk music, brass bands, and choirs.
Those looking for more of a party vibe, however, might want to head to Munich’s ‘alternative Christmas market’, the Tollwood Winter Festival, in Theresienwiese. Here they can enjoy an exciting program of free theatre and music performances up until New Year’s Eve, as well as a market selling ethically made handicrafts and organic food from all over the world.
Münchner Christkindlmarkt: 27 November – 24 December 2023
Tollwood Winter Festival: 23 November – 31 December 2023 (market until 23 December)
Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt – Nuremberg
The Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world. Moreover, it is arguably the one most rooted in religion, as it centers on the Christkind, which remains an important symbol of the market and a representative of Nuremberg.
The biblical figure dates back to the 16th century when religious reformer Martin Luther wanted to replace the Catholic celebration of Saint Nicholas with a new tradition for the Protestants. Today, the Christkind is played by a teenage girl who wears a long white dress and golden crown and opens the Christmas market by reciting a festive prologue.
Each year, the market begins on the Friday preceding the first Sunday in Advent and ends on 24 December, unless that day is a Sunday.
More than two million visitors come to browse almost 200 wooden stalls that fill the city’s central square, the Hauptmark. These sell a variety of traditional German gifts and snacks, such as gingerbread and original Nuremberg bratwurst, which can be smelled wafting through the air.
Notably, the roofs of the stalls are decorated with traditional red and white striped cloth which is why Nuremberg is often called the ‘little town of wood and cloth’ during the Advent season.
During this time, 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.
Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt: 1 December – 24 December 2023
Dresdner Striezelmarkt – Dresden
Dresden’s Striezelmarkt dates all the way back to 1434 and is considered to be the first Christmas market in the world. Notably, Striezel is the local name for the traditional German Stollen fruit cake, which is the star of the show during the city’s famous Stollenfest.
This colorful procession sees Dresden’s top bakers parade through the historic old city, alongside a horse-drawn wagon carrying an enormous two-tonne loaf of the famous cake. This is then sliced into thousands of pieces and sold to the crowd.
Aside from the iconic parade, visitors can browse more than 230 stands in the historic square and enjoy a range of performances from orchestras, carollers, gospel singers, and more. They can also watch handicraft traditions come to life at the Christmas display workshops.
Little ones, meanwhile, can explore the children’s discovery zone which features several themed houses, an enchanted forest, and a railway. They may even spot Santa himself, as he comes to open another door of the Advent calendar each day.
Dresdner Striezelmarkt: 29 November – 24 December 2023
Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt – Stuttgart
Dating back more than 300 years, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. It is also one of the biggest, boasting more than 300 stalls that sprawl from the heart of the city into the surrounding squares.
The atmosphere of the market is made all the more magical by the illuminated churches and castles along the Marktplatz, not to mention the scent of cinnamon and vanilla wafting through the air.
A busy program of music and entertainment also unfolds during the festive season in Stuttgart. This includes daily concerts in the inner courtyard of the old castle (Alten Schloss) and on the town hall steps.
Meanwhile, the Children’s Fairyland on Schlossplatz has plenty to keep little ones happy. This includes a miniature steam train that takes tiny explorers on a journey through a miniature landscape, a live nativity scene with animals, and a nostalgic fairground carousel. Kids can also decorate their own gingerbread hearts, bake their own Christmas cookies, and design their own candles in this magical land.
Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt: 29 November – 23 December 2023
Düsseldorf Christmas Market – Düsseldorf
If you like variety, then a visit to Düsseldorf Christmas Market should definitely be on your festive bucket list. Each year, a total of seven different markets, each with its own unique theme, transform the city into an enchanting winter wonderland.
Visitors can stroll along the one-kilometer stretch of stalls, which sprawl outward from Heinrich-Heine-Platz in front of the flashy Carsch-Haus department store. Along the way, they can marvel at the imaginative designs of the huts and browse a huge variety of goods. This includes everything from car accessories and clothing to vinyl records and vintage phones.
Among the most memorable markets is Engelchen Markt (Little Angels Market) at Heinrich-Heine-Platz. Here, golden cherubs perch above the stalls, looking down on shoppers as they browse a range of ornaments, candles, and handmade gifts.
The nearby market on Flinger Straße is also worth exploring if you have a sweet tooth. Here you will find an array of colorful Christmas candy, gingerbread, and fresh crepes to enjoy along with a steaming cup of cherry mulled wine.
However, if you are feeling adventurous, you can always hit the ice rink at Corneliusplatz, ride the 100-year-old carousel at Marktplatz, or hop on the ‘Wheel of Vision’ Ferris wheel in Burgplatz.
Düsseldorf Christmas Market: 23 November – 30 December 2023