Imagine you are walking through the German Christmas markets.
Lights are twinkling all around you. The smell of sweet bread and glühwein waft through the air. Children giggle in delight as they fly round the carousel (probably for the millionth time, after costing their parents a small fortune…).
Fun, happiness and festive cheer greet you on your arrival.
We have been lucky enough to live in Germany for the last 3.5 years. The German Christmas markets are by far my favourite thing about living in this wonderful country.
German Christmas markets – Why the Fuss?
What strikes me about the markets is how calm it is. No drunken person falling over you. No fights or punch ups. Just chilled out, happy and relaxed people.
The market down the road from us finishes at 10pm, which is perhaps the reason for this. Not on too late for things to get silly. But, I have to say I see very little of this kind of behaviour in Germany anyway. On the two times I have been to a nightclub since I moved here – I know I don’t get out very often – I have seen nothing like this. I have always felt safe.
The food and drink at the German Christmas Markets is surprisingly affordable, often at events like these prices break the bank.
So, not only is the food full of flavour and variety, you still have enough money to spend on those rides for the kids.
Some of the markets can get really busy, especially in the larger cities. If you are going with children, it is well worth doing a bit of research to find the best ones.
Some markets have animals, rides and more to keep little ones entertained. Others are more geared for adults
What we have sampled so far
We went to Cologne last week. Rather than being spread across the main town centre, the markets are focused on certain areas. We managed to fit three in when we were there. One thing I would say about this is it was the busiest out of all the markets we have been too. Pulling the boys in their wagon was pretty tricky at times, especially as people didn’t see them and kept tripping over them. We joked that we should have brought the flag from the bike trailer.
The Am Dom market at the cathedral is by far the most impressive. The gothic cathedral – which took 600 years to complete – stands grandly as a backdrop to this incredible market. If you go to Cologne, then this market is not to be missed.
We then ventured onto the Elf Village, this was – perhaps unsurprisingly – geared more towards children. With carousel rides and big wheels to keep little ones entertained. The stalls were filled with wooden toys and fun stuff for children to explore.
The Harbour market was actually my favourite. Standing in the shadow of the chocolate factory – which is something I am aiming to go back for – it sits alongside the boats and Rhine river. As we drank our glühwein and hot apple juice, the fog was drifting in and it had a real majestic feel about it.
Last year we went to Münster to sample the markets. This was also pretty busy, but on a much more manageable, smaller scale. The markets here also concentrated in squares, rather than spread through the town.
I really enjoyed this market, I would highly recommend it.
I found Düsseldorf markets really pretty and easy to get around. It didn’t seem overly busy on the day we were there.
There were plenty of arts and craft stalls at this market, so plenty to browse through at your leisure.
There are a lot of different markets based around the Königsallee (which is filled with designer stores). If you are looking for a big city market, I would definitely recommend this one.
Bielefeld Christmas market is impressive considering the city centre is smaller than the others I have mentioned. There is plenty to do, especially for children, and you can easily spend a day or two here. The Santa display is a particular highlight for my two, who could sit and look at it for hours.
This is one that I want to revisit. A few years ago we went here in between Christmas and New Year, however the market was starting to shut down so it was hard to get a proper feel for the market.
It did seem like it could be spectacular if you go a little earlier, which we plan to do this year. Will report back on this one…
The ones we don’t want to miss
So, there are a few that are on my list this year. As I mentioned above Hannover is on my list still as I feel like we have unfinished business there. I would also love to go to Hameln (home of the Pied Piper) and Bad Salzuflen. They are both near to where we live so totally doable as a day trip.
We are off to Bavaria for new year, while the markets will be starting to close, I am hoping there will still be some stalls open to browse.
Have you been to the German Christmas markets? Where did you go and what did you think of it?
If you have not been, would you like to go and do you have one that is on your bucket list?