German Christmas Markets

German Christmas Markets

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…).

Pic 1 At the German Christmas Markets, a little boy in a blue wooly hat is on a plane ride. Pic 2: A big wheel stands tall

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?

Atmosphere

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.

Three pictures of stalls at the German Christmas markets. A daddy and twin boys look up at a huge tree, decorated in red bows

Prices

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.

Issues

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

Cologne

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.

Cologne cathedral market. Stalls and christmas trees are dwarfed by the impressive building.

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.

A gluhwein stall and trees in lights at the harbour Christmas market

Münster

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.

Düsseldorf

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

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.

A little boy looks on at the santa display

Hannover

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?

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8 Comments

  1. 7th January 2017 / 11:31 pm

    I love this. Such a great review of the German christmas markets, particularly the less known ones. Definitely a post to come back to next Christmas, although its very sad about what happened at the Berlin one 🙁 Thanks for linking up with us last year, look forward to seeing you link up again with us this year. Emily #MarvMondays

  2. 19th December 2016 / 12:21 am

    They sound and look lovely and magical. I think visiting Germany in December is now going on the bucket list. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  3. 13th December 2016 / 7:15 pm

    So beautiful place to walk around and feel all christmassy. I love the giant Santa, pretty impressive X #mmbc

  4. 13th December 2016 / 2:33 am

    Sounds like fun, and somewhere I would love to go, but I doubt that I will ever get that chance.
    In October here in Texas we have a festival called the October Fest, which is a German festival. Where you can find German foods, drinks, different shows, and craft booths. It’s been years since I’ve been, but use to go every year, then it just started getting so expensive and crowded we stopped going. But I had fun when we did go.

  5. Fatima @ Baby Flab To Fab
    12th December 2016 / 11:01 pm

    I’ve never been to a German Christmas market, but your description of them makes me want to go! Germany is a really beautiful country, and it sounds like you all love living there. I spent some time in Munich and Hamburg several years ago, and had such a great time there.

  6. 12th December 2016 / 9:10 pm

    We went a few years back to Stuttgart and I loved it – just so much that I wanted to buy, and such a festive feeling. Sadly I had to pass on the alcoholic treats as I was pregnant at the time – I’d love to go back though.

  7. 12th December 2016 / 6:38 pm

    I actually went to one for the first time at the weekend in Birmingham. We were there for another reason and wanted to take a look. It was a Saturday and SO busy so it kind of spoiled it – well, that and the rain didn’t help! I can see why people love them though. There was a nice atmosphere despite the bad weather. I got a fabulous bobble hat so I left happy! #anythinggoes

  8. 12th December 2016 / 11:30 am

    I love German Christmas markets. We have a medieval one in a town close to us. The atmosphere is absolutely wonderful 🙂

    #MMBC

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