First Christmas markets open

The trees are decorated, the ferris wheels are rolling and the smell of mulled wine and roasted nuts are in the air - hard times are ahead for scrooges as the first batch of Christmas markets open across Germany on Monday.

First Christmas markets open
Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt on Monday. Photo: DPA

Exactly one month ahead of Christmas, merry anticipation will spread from north to south, as Berlin and Hamburg become the first cities to herald the beginning of Advent by opening their Weihnachtsmärkte.

Click here for The Local’s visual guide Christmas markets.

Germany’s wintery weather arrived just in time over the weekend to ensure authenticity for hard core Christmas enthusiasts, who can finally get their fill of traditional German holiday foods and knickknacks.

Berlin kicked off the festive hustle and bustle at the Alexander Platz market before noon, with the fancier Gendarmenmarkt market set to open in the evening with Mayor Klaus Wowereit on hand.

In Hamburg the famous Gänsemarkt will enchant visitors with gospel choirs and “consultation hours” with Santa Claus while the well-known toy alley at old-fashioned Roncallimarkt awaits kids of all ages.

Cologne’s main market, situated in front of the city’s iconic cathedral, may boast the most breathtaking backdrop as it opens Monday with some 160 stands anything from food to handmade jewellery. Another all-time Cologne favourite, the Alter Markt, will offer a new twist this year with market for elves, or Heinzelmännchen, that twists through the old town alleyways.

Click here for all the details about Germany’s top Christmas markets

Red-nosed revellers can warm their bellies with Glühwein as the Christmas spirit unfolds further south by the end of the week, with markets opening nationwide. Some 85 markets will be in and around Bavaria’s capital Munich alone.

Two of Germany’s most famous and oldest Christmas markets, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden and Nuremburg’s Christkindlmarkt, also open at the end of the week.