• Germany edition
 
Step back in time at ye merry olde Christmas market
Photo: DPA

Step back in time at ye merry olde Christmas market

Published: 08 Dec 2011 07:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Dec 2011 07:29 GMT+01:00

Every holiday season, costumed traders descend upon the charming town of Esslingen for its annual Christmas market, bringing with them the sights, smells and tastes of the Middle Ages.

First invited back in 1998, these woollen-garbed traders have helped the market grow in size and popularity. Located just outside Stuttgart, Esslingen’s mediaeval city centre offers the ideal backdrop for the mediaeval spectacle, playing host to merry merchants, minstrels, wenches, storytellers and craftsmen.

A record one million visitors from all over the world came last year to visit both the historic Christmas market and the nearby modern counterpart. The two run concurrently, with the mediaeval traders taking up the town square and Hafenmarkt, which has the oldest row of half-timbered houses in all of Germany.

The modern Christmas market, meanwhile, is held in the town’s traditional marketplace, next to the towering St Dionysius Church. The modern market focuses on regional products, giving it an authentic Swabian feel.

“Esslingen is one of the most important mediaeval towns in all of Germany. We plan our market in the heart of our old town, which is the main reason for our great success. Everything fits together. The scenery suits the market. That’s why people like coming to Esslingen,” said Michael Metzler, head of Esslingen tourist board.

The mediaeval market is believed to be the most unique and largest of its kind in Germany. The spectacle itself is superb, with painstakingly erected wooden stalls that defy modernity with their rudimentary structures and animal skinned exteriors.

The city rejects hundreds of applications from traders each year, bringing to town the best vendors who promise to uphold the strict mediaeval guidelines for design, costume and products. This gives visitors the rare opportunity to learn what life was like for blacksmiths, candle makers, merchants, bakers, archers and knights long ago. In all, there are 180 stall holders in the combined markets.

“It’s interactive. You can come to Esslingen and experience mediaeval handiwork. You can experience ancient techniques and handiwork,” said Metzler.

Craftsmen present their calligraphy, art, pottery, leather, silver jewellery, glass blowing, woven baskets and ironware, giving visitors a real feel for these ancient professions back in the Middle Ages. The products are made in front of the throngs of shoppers on a daily basis.

Bring your taler coins, a good thirst and an appetite, because the smells alone will have you queuing for Glühwein brewed over an open flame and roasted pork direct from the spit. There’s always music playing somewhere nearby, whether it’s on an individual trader’s instrument or on one of the various stages set up to house daily concerts. Actors, dancers, jugglers, magicians and fire eaters are all at hand to please the crowds.

In all, more than 500 concerts will be offered on the various stages and throughout the town. The city aims to make this a cultural event, rather than merely a shopping opportunity. So churches and theatres around town hold events as well.

Children will love the mouse game and wooden Ferris wheel, as well as the arcade games, candle and horseshoe making, and the chance to hear fairy tales while nibbling on Stockbrot, otherwise known as bread on a stick. The modern section of the market offers more children’s amusement rides as well as a bakery where they can make gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies.

The whole family will enjoy the daily costume parade. And for those visitors seeking to warm themselves up in mediaeval style, public wooden baths are available in the Hafenmarkt, where you can feel free to soak in hot water while sipping mulled wine.

If you happen to visit the town on December 21st, be sure to stick around for the evening’s Fackelumzug, when hundreds walk with lit torches along the ancient vineyards and up to the town’s castle, where acrobats and dancers get the crowds moving and singing.

The market runs daily through December 22, from 11 am to 8:30 pm. For more information, be sure to visit the Esslingen Tourist Information at www.esslingen-tourist.de or phone them on (0711) 39 69 39 69.

Other mediaeval markets around Germany include:

Mittelalterlicher Weihnachtsmarkt zu Neu-Ulm

Wittelsbacherplatz, Mittelaltermarkt

Mittelaltermarkt Weihnachtsmarkt, Durlach: For more information, visit Karlsruhe’s tourist information

Biebesheim Rheinhalle, Mittelalterlich-Romantischer Weihnachtsmarkt

December 18-19, for more information visit Biebesheim’s tourist information

Mittelalterlicher Weihnactsmarket, Burg Herzberg

December 10-11

Mittelalterlicher Weihnachtsmarkt, Siegburg

Mittelalterlicher Weihnachtsmarkt Sulingen December 10-11

Mittelalterlicher Lichter-Weihnachtsmarkt Telgte, Planwiese

December 16 -18

Mittelalterlicher Adventsmarkt Burg Stettenfels December 17-18

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight
Photo: DPA

Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight

US appeals court on Friday ruled that Oracle be given a choice between $356.7 million or a new trial for its copyright lawsuit against German rival SAP. READ  

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy
Former SPD MP Sebastian Edathy photographed at a press conference in February. Photo: DPA

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy

The Constitutional Court on Friday rejected an attempt by former Social Democratic (SPD) MP Sebastian Edathy to have evidence against him thrown out in his trial for possession of child pornography. READ  

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash
Photo: DPA

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash

A Bavarian student expecting a cannabis delivery was collared by "Commissioner Fluke" after acting surprised in front of policemen when he saw his letter box was empty. READ  

Security fears block Germany-Israel match
German and Israeli fans cheer in the stands during a friendly in Leipzig in 2012. Photo: DPA

Security fears block Germany-Israel match

A friendly soccer match against Israel marking 50 years of diplomatic ties has been called off amid security concerns and the escalation of the Middle East conflict, the German Football Federation (DFB) said on Friday. READ  

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain
Inside the terminal at the Frankfurt International Airport. Photo: Shutterstock

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain

Figures from the European Union show that while many German professionals are able to find work abroad with their well-recognised qualifications, Germany doesn't always extend the same courtesy to foreigners. READ  

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims
Passengers at Berlin's Ostkreuz station yesterday as information screens relay news of the disruption. Photo: DPA

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims

A radical left-wing group claimed responsibility on Friday for an arson attack that cut power to several S-Bahn lines and caused transport chaos in Berlin, saying it was intended to awaken people to the plight of refugees. READ  

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues
Passengers in Hannover check departure boards showing cancelled Germanwings flights. Photo: DPA

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues

UPDATE: Germanwings pilots have ended their six-hour strike which grounded 116 flights and up to 15,000 passengers of Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings on Friday. READ  

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in
Emergency services use a crane to lift the fallen crane in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in

A Cologne resident was pinned to his bed after a 40-metre construction crane toppled onto his home early on Friday. READ  

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel
Merkel looking grave at Thursday's West Balkan conference in Berlin. Photo: DPA

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that European leaders will discuss the worsening Ukraine crisis and possible further sanctions against Russia at a weekend summit. READ  

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm with fellow World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League

The 2014-15 Champions League draw yesterday brought déjà-vu for English and German clubs as old opponents found themselves facing off once again. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten of the oddest things found by German border control
Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer
Berlin
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,482
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd