To say it’s the most wonderful time of the year might be a little bit much. The most wonderful time of the year for me is when the weather is warm and I’m enjoying a beer or some other cold beverage outside.
The very close wonderful time of the year is clearly when the Christmas Markets open and we are able to enjoy a nice Glühwein (mulled wine) and some other delicious food for about a month. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt), first of all, where have you been? Second, I’m really sorry for you, and third, there is no third. I just wanted to make it seem like I might be making a list.
Christmas Markets are exactly what they sound like. They are an outdoor market, full of really awesome Christmas items. Would you like a really traditional ornament for your tree? You can get it there. Would you like chocolate, pastries, household goods, warm socks, etc? They have all of that. To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what you can’t find at the market. I live close to the Stuttgart market, so I go almost every day for some reason.
With all of that, what is the best thing about Christmas Markets? Well, to me its that every city has one and every cities market has something unique to it. Take one of the favorites in our area in Esslingen. They have a medieval market, where they have hot tubs, flamethrowers, and so much more.
My second year here, I decided to do a tour of several markets. I went to almost 10 different markets. It was fun, I was able to see what every city had, experience some unique food. Met some interesting people, and had some really tasty warmed beverages. Interest anyone in a tasty warm Gin and Tonic? Yes, that was a thing, and yes, it was really good. Not to mention, even got an online spot in the Nordbayern photo gallery for people coming to the markets.
Now that some of the main markets are open. You might not know where to go. I’ve put together a list of the ones I would suggest you need to see. Also, before you ask, Germany isn’t the only place that has Christmas Markets. If it’s a cold climate country, they most likely have one. Take Prague for example, though I still haven’t been. I’ve heard their market is pretty cool. Take the time this season, drive, catch the train, get a flight, whatever works for you, and go out and see these awesome places. It will be worth it. Even if you aren’t into Christmas stuff. Go for some food and drinks, everyone likes something warm and delicious, right?
Some of you might think because I live in Stuttgart, I have to put it down. Well, some of you are kind of correct. However, hear me out, the Stuttgart market is pretty good. You have countless stands, around 300, to buy a wide array of items for Christmas gifts. Several stands where you can be inside in the warmth. Not to mention the various extensions of the regular market. One of the extensions is the Finnish Market. This market is awesome. You are able to get some smoked lachs (hot smoked salmon) right off of a nice fire. Not to mention the glühwein, they have the Finnish version called glögi. The biggest difference between the two is the spicing, dried fruits are added, instead of just sugar, for one primary difference. The glögi is also able to be paired with some very nice and shots, which enhance the mulled wine experience.
Last, but not least in all of this, is the fact they have tippees, where they have a nice fire going. Yes, you can get your drink on, but be nice and warm. To go along with these things. You also have the Wintertraum, where you can get a few drinks after the main market has closed, oh if you feel like it. You can go ice skating.
Der Esslinger Mittelaltermarkt & Weihnachtsmarkt (Medieval Market and Christmas Market (27 November 2018 – 21 December 2018)
What is considered to be one of the best markets. The Esslingen medieval market is a mix of your standard fair market, but another side all to itself. You have your standard stands, with all of your standard Christmas items, plus a lot your standard food, sausages, käsespatzle, various types of stews. Once you leave from the normal and go into the medieval, you see people carving things. Medieval clothing, plus some of the most tastiest food you will ever find at a market. They have venison gulasch, along with some amazing pizzas with lamb, venison, and what my friend calls the best käsespatzle. For reference, käsespatzle is the German version of mac n’ cheese.
They have also have some flamethrowers, you can throw knives, axes, do some bo and arrows too. You might wonder what these things have to do with Christmas. Frankly, I have no idea, but they are some pretty cool activities to see.
The Munich market isn’t just one market. They have markets. If you are familiar with Munich and the various places to see there, then you won’t be surprised to know, that there are way more locations to go and see things. If you really want to get a true feel of everything they have. You can read about my trip there several years ago when I did one of the best trips with a group when it comes to seeing a market.
In short, they have a market in the Marienplatz area, there is a gay market, called Pink Christmas, where they have a daily cabaret show. There is also a medieval market as well, oh, they also have a pretty cool one in the English Garden. We did several in one day, but you should probably give yourself a few days.
Strasbourg and Colmar (23 November – 30 December 2018)
If you start early enough in your day, you can do both the Strasbourg and Colmar markets. I’ll be honest, going to a French Christmas market isn’t exactly like going to the German markets. However, you aren’t that far away from the German border, so you will see a few similiarities.
You can start in Colmar, spend several hours there, see the town, then drive the hour to Strasbourg and see their several markets. Colmar has 6 Christmas markets. Each is its own little village, the 6th is the newest one this year, which is for gourmets. I think I’ve found my new favorite one. The best thing I found about Colmar was the setup. As you walk, it was like a new discovery. Like I said, you can do two of these in one day, but you might get caught up and not want to.
The Strasbourg market has a lot going for it, with 300 different stands, full of amazingness. When you walk in you are greeted with the true feel of Christmas. You have stands, with ornaments, clothing, wine, cheese. You know, things that make France, well, France. Like Colmar, you have several markets, or little villages with things going on. You really need to walk around and try not to miss anything.
The great thing about each of the French markets is that they are open after Christmas. In Strasbourg, they won’t have everything open as far as every area, but as I found out several years ago, they still have a lot for you to see and do.
I have to say there isn’t a list of markets that won’t list the Nürnberg Christmas market. Though to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite when I did my tour years ago. In the main square, you had a lot of repetition of items. I lost count of how many mini bratwursts stands I saw, but there were a lot. I can say that the market in full though was very nice. One of the big draws is the largest Feuerzangebowle (fire tong punch), a better description is that it’s mulled wine that has a rum-soaked sugar cube dripping into it. Now that the technical explanation is out of the way. It’s deliciousness in a cup!
You have hundreds of stands, that will definitely openup your eyes to one of the best markets in Germany. Things you will need to get, so you’ll know you did it right. Get a few Lebkuchen (Gingerbread cookies), get a few mini bratwursts, you can find them at a lot of places. Lastly, like I said above, Feuerzangebowle, you gotta do it. Even if you aren’t a rum fan, you can deal with at least one of these.
First off, if you made it through this list, thank you! You deserve a glühwein on me. You just have to come to Stuttgart to get it. There are a lot of wonderful markets all through Europe if you live in a German city, that city will have one. It might not be 6 weeks long, like your bigger cities, but you will at least have a good weekend or longer to enjoy one.
If you can’t make it to Europe or Germany, a lot of countries are starting to have markets. Get in the spirit and enjoy the season. Thank you for taking the time and stopping by!