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DISCOVER GERMANY

Seven unmissable Christmas markets that open this week in Germany

Following two winters of fully or partially closed Christmas markets, Germany’s famous 'Weihnachtsmärkte' are opening their doors again - and are mostly free of restrictions. Here are seven you won't want to miss.

Dresden Striezelmarkt
The illuminated entrance to Dresden's historic Striezelmarkt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

While some are limiting their opening hours in order to save on electricity costs, it’s again possible to gather in a group with a steaming glass of Glühwein, or sift through the many stands selling homemade goods and sweets, be it Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds, usually laced with cinnamon and sugar).

While some Christmas markets have become more commercial in recent years (we don’t recommend to head to Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz as your only Weihnachtsmarkt stop), there are still many that retain a traditional character, serving up local specialties in a gemütlich (cozy) atmosphere. 

Here are seven of our top recommendations of top markets starting the week of November 21st.

Streizelmarkt, Dresden, November 23rd-December 24th

No Christmas Market list would be complete without the Streizelmarkt – Germany’s oldest Christmas market in the “Florence on the Elbe”.

This market, situated in Dresden’s charming city centre, first took place in 1434, and since then it has acquired quite a reputation. The ancient festival is home to the tallest Christmas pyramid in the world, as well as its largest nutcracker.

Amongst the dozens of traditional stands, visitors to this market must also indulge themselves with a Dresdner Christstollen: the famous fruit loaf that is baked according to a traditional recipe with chopped dried and candied fruits, nuts and spices and dusted with powdered sugar.

Visitors can also take a ride on the historic Ferris wheel and gaze down upon the lovingly decorated huts of the Striezelmarkt.

READ ALSO: The secrets behind Stollen, Germany’s beloved holiday treat

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt, November 24th-December 24th

Recently crowned Germany’s ‘most dynamic city’, Mainz also boasts a fascinating history stretching back over a thousand years. It is also known for one of Germany’s most charming old towns, making it the perfect setting for this market. 

Visitors can’t miss the eleven-metre high, ornately decorated Christmas pyramid, which lights up the entrance. Just a few steps away, hand-carved, life-size nativity figures glow in front of the Gotthard Chapel of the famous St. Martin’s Cathedral.

READ ALSO: The unlikely place crowned ‘Germany’s most dynamic city’

Medieval Market and Christmas Market, Esslingen, November 22nd-December 22nd

The Medieval Market and Christmas Market in Esslingen in Baden-Württemberg, with its backdrop of medieval half-timbered houses, offers visitors a trip back in time, with traders and artisans showing off their goods from times gone by.

The stands show off the wares of pewterers, stonemasons, blacksmiths, broom makers and glass blowers, as well as some old-fashioned merchants selling fun themed goods like drinking horns and “potions” in bottles. 

Esslingen Christmas market

Crowds of visitors peruse the stalls at Esslingen Christmas market. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jan-Philipp Strobel

Christkindlesmarkt, Augsburg November 21st to December 24th

With its origins in the 15th century, the Christkindlesmarkt in Augsburg is one of the oldest in Germany, and the Renaissance town hall provides a particularly beautiful backdrop to this winter wonderland.

As well as a wide variety of stands selling handcrafted nicknacks and tasty treats, the Augsburg market also has some especially magical features, including the “Heavenly Post Office,” and “Fairytale Lane”: an animated fairytale depicted in ten scenes in decorated shop windows around the marketplace.

Maritime Christmas Market on the Koberg, Lübeck, November 21st-December 30th

Centred around the gothic, middle-aged church of St. Jacob, this market in the so-called “Christmas city of the north” celebrates the city’s historical sea-faring residents by creating a cosy harbour atmosphere with old wooden barrels, nets and a stranded shipwreck as well as a Ferris wheel with an unforgettable view of Lübeck’s old town and harbour.

Culinary stands offer visitors sweet and savoury dishes, and beverages such as hot lilac punch, mulled wine and, of course, rum.

Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt, November 22-December 22nd

It may come as a surprise to some that this Christmas market in the lesser known eastern German state of Thuringia consistently tops lists of the country’s (and even Europe’s) best Christmas markets. 

The enchanting Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt encompasses over 200 stands, many of which sell local culinary specialties such as the Thüringer Bratwurst. There’s also a particularly large selection of arts and crafts, be it pottery or folk art from the nearby Ore Mountains. Kids will especially enjoy riding on the glowing Ferris wheel with its panoramic views of the Medieval Old Town. 

Christmas market Erfurt

Erfurt’s Christmas market in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, November 25th-December 24th

One of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world, this market is practically synonymous with the Christmas season in Germany. Numerous stands sell local woodcrafts as well as the two sweets the city is known for: Lebkuchen gingerbread and Spekulatius almond cookies, in addition to many other delicacies. There’s also a special market for children, which includes a carousel and steam train. 

If you make it for the opening day, you can see the market’s namesake Christkind give an opening speech and gift-giving ceremony.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Das Christkind

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8 of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Germany

Want to try something different from the classic German Christmas market? Here are eight unique alternatives.

8 of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Germany

1. Erotic Christmas market – St. Pauli, Hamburg

If you want to spice up your advent this year, then head to “Hamburg’s hottest Christmas market” in the city’s Sankt Pauli district.

Alongside the typical festive offerings of Glühwein and traditional stands, this market also hosts regular strip shows and features numerous stands selling erotic gifts and sweets.

Visitors walk through the Santa Pauli Christmas Market on Spielbudenplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The Spielbudenplatz stage in the market also plays host to live music almost every evening throughout the season.

On Mondays, a special Glühwein “pharmacy” offers unicorn mulled wine – a glittery pink beverage with a choice of special flavours. 

Open from November 14th to December 23rd

2. Underground Christmas Market – Traben-Trarbach, Rhineland-Palatinate

The town of Traben-Trarbach in Rhineland-Palatinate is home to a particularly special type of Christmas market.

The Mosel Wein Nachts Markt, as it’s officially called, takes place underground in a series of former wine cellars which date back to the 18th century.

A festively decorated wine cellar in Traben-Trarbach – at the Moselle Wine Night Market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Weinkeller Traben-Trarbach | Jan-Gerrit Baumann

As the name suggests, this Christmas market has a lot to offer in terms of wine, as it is set in the heart of the Mosel region which is famous for its Riesling.

READ ALSO: 5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

There’s an emphasis on art, antiquity and culture in this market too. International and national artisans and exhibitors sell decorative items, antiques, clocks and creative fashion and jewellery.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 18th to December 18th, 2022

3. Forest Christmas market – Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia

For a fairytale festive experience, visit the forest Christmas market in Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia.

The market has been running here on the land of the Krumme family in North-Western NRW since 1999 and is well-known throughout the region for its special brand of Christmassy magic.

Huts scattered throughout the forest serve up culinary delights and homemade goods and those wanting to warm up can visit the historic farmhouse café or nestle inside one of the winter huts.

Children can ride on the nostalgic train, bake stick bread at the crackling fire or meet Santa Claus.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 25th to December 18th, 2022

4. 19th Century Christmas market – Werben, Saxony-Anhalt

The Biedermeier Christmas Market in Werben is one of the most beautiful and unusual markets in northern Germany.

The theme is the Biedermeier period from 1815 to 1848 and, accordingly, stall owners, local theatre groups, merchants and friends of the town, participate in creating this early 19th century themed market.  

The Biedermeier Christmas market in Werben an der Elbe takes visitors back in time. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Jürgen Sturtzel

The market is always bustling with men in tailcoats and top hats, and ladies in long dresses and bonnets and is full of stalls selling contemporary knickknacks. There are theatrical and musical performances and, in the evening, candle lanterns and kerosene lamps bathe the hustle and bustle in atmospheric light.

Open on December 10th and 11th, 2022

5. Ecological Christmas Market – Berlin

For those feeling bad about the excesses of Christmas already, the Ökomarkt at Kollwitzplatz in Berlin is a good place for guilt-free shopping and celebrations.

The assortment of sustainable stalls ranges from Christmas decorations to textiles, toys and jewellery from all over the world that meet social and ecological standards.

READ ALSO: Seven unmissable Christmas markets that open this week in Germany

There is also a wide range of organic and fair trade food on offer, from sweet treats such as crêpes, vegan waffles and pastries to hearty dishes such as bratwurst and pizza.

Open on November 27th, December 4th, 11th, and 18th

6. Japanese Christmas Market – Berlin

Since 2014, the Japanese community in Berlin has been laying on a colourful celebration of Japanese culture with a Japanese Christmas market.

Stalls selling paintings, photography, ceramics, illustrations and fashion cover traditional and modern designs – from kimonos to kawaii, from kokeshi to kendama. A taste of Japanese cuisine is also on offer along with hot sake.

There are workshops for those wanting to deepen their knowledge of Japanese culture and the entertainment program includes Japanese music, karaoke, dance and sumo.

Opening in December – dates not yet released (check here for updates)

7. Pink Christmas Market – Munich

The pink star amongst Munich’s Christmas markets will be back again this year on Stephansplatz in the heart of the Glockenbach district in Munich. 

The Pink Christmas on the Stephansplatz in Munich. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Pink Christmas

With its elegant white pagoda tents and atmospheric light design – and abundance of pink – this Christmas market is a special spot to enjoy the festive season. Organisers call it “the place to be” for the LGBTIQ* community, neighbours, friends and Christmas market fans from all over the world.

READ ALSO: How do Germans celebrate Christmas?

Stalls offer delicious food, drinks and gifts, while unique, nightly shows keep the bustling crowds entertained. 

Pink Christmas is open from November 21st – December 23rd. 

8. Christmas Market by boat – Spreewald, Brandenburg

Spreewald is a magical place to visit at any time of the year but at Christmas, it’s something truly special.

The Spreewald Weihnacht – zwei Märkte, eine Kahnfahrt (two markets, one boat ride) offers a very unique Christmas market experience.

Visitors wait at the port of Lübbenau (Brandenburg) to take a Spreewald barge to the Christmas market in the open-air museum of the Spreewald village Lehde. Photo: picture alliance / Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Patrick Pleul

The first port of call is the Great Spreewald Harbor, where – amongst the usual Christmas market offerings – stalls and booths sell smoked fish, Christmas plinse and hot grog. Then, market-goers are taken on a wintry boat trip to the open-air museum in Lehde through the tranquillity of the Spreewald nature in hibernation.

In the Open Air Museum Lehde visitors can taste regional delicacies at the market stalls, stroll along the craftsmen’s market and meet some ancient mythical figures who offer good wishes for the coming year.

Open on November 26th, 27th and December 3rd and 4th

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