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CHRISTMAS

7 events in Germany that’ll make December unforgettable

Winter is finally upon us, and Germany has kindly laid on a whole host of things to do to carry us through the final month of the year.

7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
A baker preparing the traditional giant Stollen treat in Dresden in 2014. Photo: DPA.

1. Stollen Festival, Dresden, December 3rd

The 2015 Stollen Girl stands in front of the giant cake next to the traditional 1.6 metre Stollen knife. Photo: DPA

The people of Dresden take things pretty seriously when it comes to Stollen – a fruit bread coated in sugar traditional to German Christmas. For 21 years, they have celebrated Stollenfest on the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent.

A crowd of bakers and Stollen-aficionados parade a specially made giant Stollen through the streets of the Old Town. Each year, a Dresden Stollen Girl is elected as the best trainee baker, and she accompanies the huge loaf.

The several-tonne cake harks back to 1730, when the then-ruler of Saxony ordered a giant Stollen to be made for a military festival. The loaf was divided into 24,000 portions and distributed among the guests and soldiers.

Today, the giant cake is still cut up into thousands of pieces, using a special 1.6 metre knife weighing in at 12 kilograms, and is then sold off at the Christmas market.

2. Tollwood Winter Festival, Munich, November 23rd – December 31st

View of Tollwood Winter Festival 2015. Photo: Tollwood

“Cowboy boots instead of winter boots” is the motto for this year’s Tollwood winter festival in Munich's Theresienwiese, the huge area where Oktoberfest is held.

Canadian contemporary circus group Cirque Éloize have brought their show “Saloon” to Europe for the first time: expect upbeat piano music, swinging saloon-doors, and stunning acrobatics, theatre and dance.

The festival, which this year concentrates on “sustainable mobility”, tries to educate visitors about the advantages of carpooling, public transport and cycling.

The festival includes stalls and food kiosks, and hundreds of artistic performances. Over 70 percent of the events are free, but tickets for the others can be bought online.

3. ChocolART Chocolate Festival, Tübingen, November 29th – December 4th

 

A photo posted by chocolART (@schokofestival) on Dec 5, 2015 at 5:30am PST

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you would be mad to miss Germany’s biggest chocolate festival at the beginning of December. Taking place in Tübingen’s old town, the festival brings together over 100 of the top international chocolatiers from all corners of the world.

Across six days, you can sample chocolates from Africa, South America, Europe and more. Alternatively, you could sip on some of the best drinking chocolate around, or swat up on your choco-knowledge by attending courses and demonstrations.

The festival also places a lot of emphasis on the chocolate-making process, promoting fair treatment of the 14 million people whose livelihoods depend on chocolate production.

4. Christmas Garden Berlin, November 17th – January 1st

“As the twilight falls, the magic begins” is the motto of the 2016 Christmas celebrations at the Berlin Botanical Gardens.

The show includes a fairy tale landscape in which visitors can wander through one and a half kilometres of “breathtaking light shows, bright dream forests and magical light figures” far from the packed crowds of Berlin's Christmas markets. 

At the end of the adventure, there are a variety of food stalls offering local culinary specialties, as well as fire pits to gather round. For the more athletic, there is also a 300-metre squared ice rink. 

5. Christmas markets

Visitors peruse stalls in front of the imposing Königsbau building in Stuttgart's Schlossplatz. Photo: DPA

You can’t be in Germany in December without visiting a Christmas market, but the tricky part is choosing which one to visit.

Click here to see ten of Germany's most unmissable Christmas markets, ranging from the über-traditional to the totally wacky.

6. Circus Krone, Munich, December 25th – January 31st

A Circus Krone performance in Munich in April 2015. Photo: DPA

Europe’s biggest circus opens for its winter season on Christmas Day. One of the few circuses to have its own permanent building, this Munich troupe is one of the best.

Once an integral part of European entertainment, circuses of this quality are now few and far between. Although many are put off by these institutions, Circus Krone emphasizes the importance of treating their animals well.

From breakdancing to trapezes, and llamas to lions, it certainly promises to be an impressive display.

7. New Year's Eve parties, December 31st

The New Year's celebrations for 2016 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Silvester, or New Year’s Eve as we know it, is a big occasion in Germany. And of course the capital throws a party to be reckoned with. Each year around a million revellers gather around the Brandenburg Gate to welcome in the new year, and the two-kilometre road to the Victory Column in the Tiergarten park turns into one long party avenue.

However, Berlin is not the only city to bring out the fireworks. Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg will also host huge parties to celebrate the beginning of 2017.

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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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