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Germany’s 7 quirkiest Christmas markets

If traditional Christmas markets, stocked with Glühwein, Lebkuchen and cutesy carol services don't quite do it for you anymore - we bring you the German markets that go that extra mile to give you something unique.

Germany's 7 quirkiest Christmas markets
The erotic Christmas market in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

The floating market

Photo: Tourist Information Emden

The Engelmarkt in Emden does away with the traditional winding streets of Christmas markets by moving the festive experience onto water.

The market in the small harbour town in north-west Germany is partly set on boats, including the museum ship and traditional sailing ships.

This market almost defines Gemütlichkeit (cosiness) as the lights shine down from the majestic ships' sails and masts on the crowds soaking up the smells of cinnamon and punch below.

The sexy market

Santa Pauli Christmas market. Photo: DPA

This might not be one to bring the kids to – although the organizers insist it offers the regular Christmas fare, as well as more distinctive flavour of St Pauli, the district where it is held every year.

St Pauli is famous for the Reeperbahn, a strip full of table dancing bars and brothels, and this market also provides a ‘Santa Pauli strip tent.’ Also on offer are vibrators and a plethora of other 'adult products'.

It advertises itself as Germany’s hottest Christmas market and so one assumes no Glühwein is needed to bring a glow to the cheeks.

The hidden market

Photo: Black Forest Tourism 

At the other end of Germany is a small Christmas market in a no less charming or unusual location.

In the Black Forest in southern Baden-Württemberg is the Ravennaschlucht market, situated in a canyon underneath a rail bridge.

On offer in this secluded, secretive spot are fine crafts from over 40 stalls.

Ye olde market

The Weben Christmas market. Photo: DPA

There is no doubt that Germany mainly does a wonderful job of avoiding the tackiness of Anglo-Saxon Christmas. But if you want to keep it really real, then head for the market in Weben on the Elbe.

In Germany’s smallest Hanseatic city they are so determined to avoid the modernisation of the festive season, they don’t even have electricity in their market.

So expect to drink Glühwein boiled in a cauldron and to have your path through the wooden huts guided by candles and oil lamps.

The queer market

Pink Christmas in Munich. Photo: Pink Christmas

This market that makes the phrase camp as Christmas come true, Pink Christmas in Munich was developed by the city’s gay and lesbian community to get away from the staid traditional market and provide something original and witty.

A particular highlight is the live stage, which offers a broad range of music and entertainment. Expect to see wild costumes as well as lots of glitter!

The highest market

The Zugspitze market. Photo: Zugspitze Bergbahn AG

For those determined to have snow at their Christmas market, no matter the cost, the answer lies on Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.

The 2,900 meter peak is home to Germany’s highest Weihnachtsmarkt – just make sure to dress up extra warm for this one.

And if you’re planning on skiing back down (it is located on a ski resort) lay off the Glühwein!

The natural market

Photo: Weihnachtsmarkt Velen

There are over 200 stalls selling handicrafts and delicacies at the Christmas market in Velen near the Dutch border. But what makes this market so enchanting is the setting. Guests stroll along past stalls which are set inside a forest of over 1,000 trees.

And with over a million lights to give the grotto a sparkle, you’re sure to have a flash of inspiration for what to buy.

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CHRISTMAS

German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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