Thursday, December 25, 2014


Sample this bouquet of hot spiced mulled wine, handcrafted Christmas presents, more schnitzel, wurst, gingerbread and sausages than you can imagine, medieval castles, tree decorations, candles, lambskin shoes and carols sung 24/7…you get this and more traditional delights at Germany’s Christmas markets.. These are 3 of my favourite ones
Cologne is presenter to numeral Christmas markets all-round the run-up to Christmas. Boasting not one, but six total Christmas markets, to say it is big is an enormous understatement. The most popular of these is held in the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, the largest in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With the impressive Gothic backdrop and the gigantic Christmas tree in the Rhine, the ‘Am Dom’ Market offers over a hundred and sixty stalls selling the traditional yuletide wares and their famous Glühwein (mulled wine). Customary music fills the air, providing the perfect ambience for Christmas shopping. If you are looking for a large, hackneyed German Christmas market, Cologne is the place for you. You could spend over a day there ambling amongst the stalls and taking in the sites. It makes for a great starting point on any trip around the Rhineland and to German Christmas markets. I spent most of my afternoon in Cologne lengthening my neck trying to see to the top of the fifth tallest church in the world with stuffing my face with Hot Dogs and hot mulled wine. A great memory to carry back home!
Stuttgart was on my radar owing to the fact that it has one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, and there are five castles and palaces to be found around town. Home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, I couldn’t have possibly missed those holy automobile shrines. Indicated as one of the most pleasing markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market is held beneath the gorgeous Old Palace. Inside the palace the festivities continue as you stroll through the stalls of the Resurgent inner courtyard, the whiff of cinnamon and vanilla filling the air. It surely is an extravagant destination, providing easy access to other must-see markets; just 20km away are the famed Ludwigsburg (north) held in the baroque market square and promises visitors romance and history and Esslingen (south-east) Christmas markets.
Held in the old town, In Esslingen you can see high-wire artists performing breath taking feats at dizzy heights, fairy-tale figures on stilts, fire-eaters, minstrels, and acrobats ruffling around the streets in wheels of flame. This medieval market a theme that almost feels like the Christmas market meets a Renaissance festival, provides an unexpected atmosphere with must see attractions including the Land of Dwarfs, archery and medieval arts and crafts. While I haven’t been to every market in Germany, I would say this one is filled with a lot of character!  Do not miss the huge steaming tubs shaped like beer barrels with people in them. And go for a dip if you can.
The Christmas market is huge, sprawling and almost everything is homemade and authentic, and the stalls are decorated beautifully! The horns of signalling angles are substituted by hunting horns in this quaint town’s Christmas Market nativity, but the animals yelping in the manger are real and pet-able. Baby Jesus and Santa make an impression in a horse rather than a sleigh or cart─ hunting horns and a children’s choir announcing his arrival. Orchestras, bands and more choirs conduct in front of the Kurhaus─the town hall which gets its peristyle done up in lights that diverge from it lighting up the charming parts of the town. By the way, they don’t get snow here as the famed thermal ground puts a stop to any thoughts of a white Christmas, but it’s still cold enough to enjoy a drama of Glühwein and bunch close to your sweetheart for affection as you stroll around stalls selling all the things Christmas markets are known for and wood carved gifts being a local favourite.


published in Statesman