Christmas markets in Germany are the most colorful and interesting in Europe. Bright Christmas decoration of the houses, streets and city squares is a centuries-old tradition of the Germans. Preparations for the holiday season begin in late November, about four weeks before the Christmas Eve, December 24th. This is the time for Christmas markets, which in some places last until December 31st. Every small town in Germany is beautifully decorated at this time of the year, to say nothing about such metropolises as Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden and others. In Bavaria, there are many beautiful cities with a long history, and Bavarian Christmas markets are some of the best in Germany. For those who come to Munich in December, we would suggest visiting at least a couple of Christmas markets – in Munich and Nuremberg.
Christmas Market in Munich’s Old Town
One Saturday night in early December, a few of us went to the Munich’s Old Town. We wanted, firstly, to enjoy Christmas decorations in the city, and secondly, to try traditional hot Glühwein (mulled wine). Actually, the Christmas markets are held in the city center just about everywhere, here is a short list of the most famous: Marienplatz, Sendlinger Tor, Stachus, Odeonspatz, and Englischer Garten. It is almost impossible to visit all the markets in one night, and I do not think it is necessary anyway. It is better to find a cozy place and stay there enjoying the indescribable atmosphere of this festival. We decided to start with the main hangout at Marienplatz, and then move to an exotic medieval market.Coming out of the subway (U-Bahn) in the main city square, we immediately plunged into the swirling crowd and the holiday atmosphere. The gorgeous building of the Neues Rathaus appears even more beautiful at this time of the year, it is all decorated with Christmas symbols and lights. The huge Christmas tree in the center of the square is brightly lit, too. On the square and all surrounding streets and alleys, there are numerous stalls and kiosks with all sorts of things: food and drinks, Christmas gifts, souvenirs, candles, toys and so on. Almost everything is local crafts and they all look like real works of art. German artisans make Christmas decorations and toys with real love and care. Of course, one cannot miss an opportunity to have a cup of glühwein. So, we stopped at one of the many wine stalls. Glühwein is warmed red wine with sugar and spices which is popular in German-speaking countries, particularly at Christmas. The body and soul warmed up after a cup of glühwein and we continued tasting different Christmas drinks. We tried German punch, it is especially popular in Bavaria. This punch is prepared in the following way: a cup of glühwein is covered with a special mesh, a piece of sugar is placed on it, then rum is poured onto the sugar and ignited. This is called Feuerzange in German. Sometimes a piece of sugar is simply put into a small spoon with a long handle. Rum, which must be periodically added to sugar, drips slowly into the cup with glühwein. The resulting drink is rather strong and has an unusual taste.
Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market
After rather extensive libation we decided to follow up with a good snack and went to another Christmas market with a mysterious name “Medieval”. It is located on Wittelsbacherplatz, which is next to Odeonsplatz, slightly to the left on the way from the city center. Everything here is stylized as medieval: the stalls, vendors in costumes, plates and cups in which food and drinks are served, souvenirs and everything else. Most importantly, the dishes are unusual and prepared before your eyes by the “technology” of the time, on open fires or in the ovens. This includes bread, pancakes and crepes, some pies remotely resembling pizza, and big pieces of meat on skewers, something like kebabs. We had quite a feast there, and finished with more glühwein served in wooden mugs. The whole environment was very romantic, with quiet and gently played medieval music. We highly recommend this extraordinary market to all tourists. By the way, stylized medieval plates, other kitchen utensils and even clothes are sold as souvenirs at this market.
Christmas Market in Nuremberg
We strongly advise all the tourists who come to Germany at Christmas time to visit Nuremberg, which holds one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany. While Munich is glitzily decorated primarily in the city center, i.e. in the Old Town, the entire city of Nuremberg looks as a holiday fairytale town. We often come here in December to walk through the medieval cobbled streets, squares and bridges, which have especially festive and glamorous appearance during the Christmas season. Each house, balcony and window is decorated in its own way: Christmas trees, wreathes, garlands, Santa Clauses climbing chimneys and walls, etc. The whole city at night looks like a sea of lights, as if the Dark Ages were brightened by today’s illumination. All around us is the atmosphere of celebration and fun. We usually walk from the main market square (Hauptmarkt) in the direction of the old fortress (Burg) and have a cup or two of glühwein on the way. It warms us and helps keep us in a good mood even if the weather is chilly. Everywhere there are a lot of tourists; however, it is not as overcrowded as in Munich. We have always been able to find free tables in restaurants, even in the downtown. The best time for a walk here is from 5 to 9 pm: you will have sufficient time to watch some shows, buy souvenirs, as well as to eat and drink. In our opinion, this is the best short trip in Bavaria at Christmas time.