Nothing gets you in a more Christmassy mood than visiting one of the many, wonderful Christmas markets here in Germany. In German, they are called Christkindlmarkts or Weihnachtsmarkts. Every city, town, village and corner of Germany has one. They run from roughly the end of November until Christmas Eve, or shortly before, and let me tell you, they are worth a visit!
They all consist of decorated little booths, or huts, where you can buy beautifully handcrafted ornaments, woodwork, toys, decorations, etc. You can also always count on seeing multiple booths of sweets: candied nuts (mostly almonds), bon bons, Lebkuchen, sweet or fruity breads, etc.
^ Stollen, a really yummy bread
^ Lebkuchen big and small!
^ So many sweets
^ and all the candied nuts you can dream of
My personal favorite part is the food. It’s like when you go to the State Fair in Texas, there’s lots to see, but let’s be honest, we are all there to get a Fletcher’s Corn Dog, funnel cake and fried oreos. At a German Christmas market, it’s Bratwurst fresh off the grill in a roll, topped with Sauerkraut, and crepes galore. Naturally to wash it down you drink a Glühwein, which is a hot mulled wine, typically red but sometimes white. It’s served in a cute souvenir style cup with a deposit (pfand) of around 2.50 Euros. Instead of returning the cup to get the money back, I decided 2.50 was a pretty good deal for a cute souvenir cup so I downed every last drop of my Glühwein and then threw the cup in my purse.
Every Christmas market is a little different: some are huge, some fairly small; some have live performances of choirs or orchestras, some located in city centers while others from small towns might be found in the woods. Because of this, I think it’s fun to visit many different markets and compare them. So far I have been to 4 this year: Rosenheim, Munich city center (Marienplatz), Nürnberg and Rothenburg.
Last weekend, my boyfriend David and I visited some friends that live near Nürnberg. We figured this would be the perfect opportunity to visit one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Germany.
The Christkindlmarkt in Nürnberg has been around for close to 400 years. That’s before my home country was even founded. Crazy. It takes place in Nürnberg’s main market square and it is HUGE. Just when you think it’s ending… it keeps going. We arrived with our friends in the early afternoon and stayed until it got dark, so we got to see it during the day and lit up at night, as well. There were performances throughout the day on a stage, horse-drawn coach rides running through the city and Christmas decorations galore. One thing I thought was cool about this particular market, was that in addition to the normal booths you see in every city, they also had an “international section” with booths from countries all over the world. I bought some Recees from the USA booth for my friends to try (as great as German chocolate is, Recees will always win my heart).
^ panorama of the market from above. Look at all those booths!
^ A men’s choir perfomance
One difference in the food at the Nürnberg Christkindlmarkt was that they sold the Nürnberger sausages (the little ones), which come from Nürnberg (duh) instead of the more commonly found Bratwurst. They were yummy!
^ They were excited I was taking this picture
Although it was really cool to see such a famous market in a city I had never visited before, it was incredibly crowded. It really has become more of a tourist attraction, whereas the locals typically stick to the smaller Christmas markets. At times it was nearly impossible to even walk down an isle. But with that being said, I’m still really glad I saw it and we had a lot of fun. It even snowed a little bit in the afternoon so that added a nice touch to the Christmassy feel. I also noted that Nürnberg itself seemed really cool and I would definitely like to come back again, maybe in warmer weather, to explore the city. A word of advice if you’re going to check out the Christmas market: try to go during the week! If you can’t, just be prepared the make lots of new friends!
^ Starting to get dark!
^ They had an entire section just for kids
^ Carousels are just so pretty
^ It was a great day in Nürnberg 🙂