Christmas market reports- post your's here

Now that the forum has a trip reports section, I thought it might be a good idea to start an open thread for the yearly Christmas market reports. So, if you visit one or ten, tell us about them.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

To start off, I visited the market in Lorsch last night, about 10 minutes away from where I live. Lorsch has a very attractive old town market square, an ideal location for a Weihnachtsmarkt. There wasn't a whole lot of merchandise for sale, most of the booths were food or Glühwein. Various musical ensembles were performing on a central stage. Overall, good community atmosphere in a beautiful setting- it helped that I ran into some people I know. The market only lasts for one weekend, but if you find yourself in the Frankfurt-Darmstadt-Mannheim-Heidelberg area next year, give it a look. The town is worth a quick visit even without the market.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I've only been to Stuttgart's so far this year. Was hoping to do more but got sidelined by a nasty cold. The Stuttgart one is, as always, very large, very crowded, and a lot of fun. Hoping to go to one at Schloss Hohenzollern next Sunday, and maybe visit a different one Saturday, trying to hit some of the ones that are only open for a weekend or two this year. On the 10th I'm going to Esslingen with Chaini and Jo, and then off to Berlin, Bamberg, Salzburg, and Munich with the family. I was also going to try to fit in Bad Wimpfen or Wurzburg in there sometime. On Christmas day I have the ambitious plan to go to Colmar and Strasbourg via car, weather permitting. Don't want to be trapped in the house with the family for too long!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Last week visited Bruges on the opening day and it was lots of fun. Matthew (14 year old grandson) bought a wonderful chess set from a vendor who was there from Poland. Nice ion of stuff to buy (nothing extremely high end, but gloves, scarves,hats. etc.) Also, Heidelberg, which we both love. Lots of fun energy and good sausage. Walked up to the castle, of course.
This week in Paris and did go down to the Market on the Champs... it was definitely not your typical Xmas Market (wouldn't expect it to be... but it was fun and we had a good time just wandering and enjoying the Parisian version of the Market. Very favorite from last year... Salzburg.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Yesterday, we went to the Mainz and the Wiesbaden Christmas Markets. Got a group day ticket for 25.70 €, and we went to Mainz 1st. Stopped off at the Isis temple for an hour or so, then walked over to the Dom and the market. It was snowing like crazy and it made everything look more festive in the daytime. Behind the Dom, we found a little area where they were grilling lots of pork, selling glühwein, etc, but had set up little huts that looked like giant barrels. The tables sat 4-6 people and most of them had reservation signs on them for later that afternoon. Set in a huge circle, there was a big bonfire burning in the middle. Have to say this was one of the best Christmas market set-ups I have ever seen. Hats off to you city of Mainz! I also had one of the better hot punch drinks at a near-by stand to this one. We warmed up by touring the Dom. Always stunning, this is one of my favorite cathedrals, as I like the massive heavy feeling of the architecture. Caught the S-bahn to Wiesbaden, still snowing heavily, and it was almost dark by 1600. The Wiesbaden market has great decorations, especially once it gets dark and they turn on all the lights. The setting around the Markt Kirche is lovely. We went inside the church where a chamber music group was practicing. This added to the days enjoyment. Strolled around the market for a while longer, taking photos, checking out what was for sale, and having a few mugs of hot drinks. Found a bus that went to the train station, then rode the S-bahn back to Frankfurt. Ride took about an hour, as the snow was jamming things up a bit. Nothing really unusual to buy at either of the markets, but we thoroughly enjoyed them.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Today, we visited Büdingen. A group day ticket was 25.70 € and the trip took about an hour, with an easy change of trains in Gelnhausen. The walk from the train station to the city walls/gate takes about 15 min. The dusting of snow really made the massive red sandstone towers and walls stand out. We took lots of photos of these in the evening, right before we came back to Frankfurt as it was now dark and the lighting made them look even better. The market itself wound around cobblestone lanes, through the market place, back along the walls, around the palace and the church. Lots of groups have stands here to raise money for their organization. Waffles, glühwein, roast chestnusts, brats, knitted items, etc. Everything was very festive, all the vendors were friendly, and the whole market had a cosier feel to it. Had lunch at the Bleffe, and they fry up a mean schnitzel. By evening, we had to unfortunately leave, as the last train for the evening was at 17:30. Took lots of photos once it began getting a bit darker and all the lights came on. Very, very nice. The medieval part of the market was very small, which was a dissapointment, but they were offering lots of samples of strange wines and liquors. Roasted pork on an open fire was wafting some wonderful aromas through-out the area. Most of the homes in Büdingen are old fachwerk buildings and use wood burning ovens, so the whole town smelled as old fashioned as it looked. Wanted to walk the walls, but it was just too cold. When you walk the back walls, you can even see Ronneburg Castle. Probably the only drawback to visiting Büdingen, is the lack of train service in the evenings on weekends. Even during the week the last one is at 19:30. One can take a bus to Gelnhausen and then the train, but that takes even longer. Good Christmas Market, wins lots of points for atmosphere.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

We took off to Bad Homburg with the snow coming down fairly fast and furious. The ride on the S-5 took less than 30 min. It was snowing so much, that we took a bus just a few stops to the Kur House and walked the rest of the way to the Kaisers' Palace and the Erlöser Church. The church was our 1st stop. What a magnificent, splendid, Byzantine style interior, but mixed in with some great art deco. The ceiling is all gold mosaic, with various mosaic pictures incorporated into it. A string quartet was practicing for a concert for this evening, and it was a pleasure to sit and listen to them. Then we trudged our way through the deepening snow over to the Palace. Gorgeous, old Lebanese cedar guarding the entrance. Lots of stands set up in the courtyard, with a medieval tower in the middle, and a miniature steam train going around it. Many families with kids here. Snowing too hard to see the Taunus mountains most of the day, but a few times, we got a vague outline. The market runs down through the town a bit, to the old city wall. Most of the usual food and drinks being sold, but all the stands were selling hand made items, so no tacky mass-produced stuff here. Pretty silk scarves, pottery, cool looking, metal garden decorations of all kinds, jewelry, and Christmas decorations and nativities. There is a nice old town area here, but we didn't walk through it due to the snow, but I have seen it before and it makes for a nice stroll during good weather. There were tours of the palace in German, and if you want to book one in English, you have to do it ahead of time. Or, you could just go on the German one to see it all. Kaiser Wilhelm II quite liked coming to Bad Homburg, and due to the baths built here, it became popular with the elite and the royals. The Russians built a chapel here, in the Kur Park. The casino is supposed to be elegant, but have never gone.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Monday saw us on the ICE to Stuttgart. Luggage dropped off at the Pfeiler Hotel then met Sarah at the hbf and got a group ticket to Esslingen. Short train ride later and a short walk from the train station had us in the middle of the fantastic medieval of Esslingen. Honestly, if you can only make it to one market, this should go to the top of your list. Beautiful fachwerk buildings make the setting perfect. Shows, torches, lanterns and handmade gift items make the market very special. Back to Stuttgart to catch a couple of hours of their market. Spread out nicely in the city, this market impressed me a lot. Beautiful decorations, friendly people, ice skating, and good food. Anyone up for a goose bratwurst? The Finnish market was a treat here too. Next day, Strasbourg, just a quick train ride away from Stuttgart. What a lovely city this is, with markets located all over town, all with different themes. Very unique decorations and lighting. Could have stayed here longer and will definitely come back in spring. Loved the fachwerk in petit france as well as all the older architecture. The cathedral was stunning. Very friendly people in the stands & at the train station.

Posted by Jaye
Dallas, OR, USA
99 posts

Thank you all for these reports! Visiting European Christmas markets is high up on our bucket list. It is so fun to read your reports and travel vicariously for now as well as to make notes for the future. Happy Travels!!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Spent the whole day exploring Colmar. What a treasure this city is! Just one historic building after another. Very atmospheric. The little canals running through the town add to the pretty picture, especially yesterday evening. They had 3 boats full of children come down the canal, as well as a boat with Santa playing an accordion, and they all sang French Christmas carols. They stopped in about 5 locations to sing. The boats had little lights on them and it was fun listening to the people sing along with the kids. Highly recommend Colmar for anyone looking for a town where you can step back in time. We stayed at the Etap hotel, single room is 43 € per night with free wifi. Breakfast is a hefty 15 per day, so skipped it and went into town for that. My room has a big double bed for 2, plus a bunk bed over that if parents have a child with them. Basic, functional hotel, about a 10 min. walk fromthe train station.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

I checked out the market today in Düsseldorf on my way to Belgium. OK, but wasn't necessarily worth going out of my way to visit. The market is spread over several different locations, so it's more like 6 small markets than a single large one. Except for the market by the Rathaus in Düsseldorf's Altstadt, none of them were in a particular scenic environment. The food was about the same as most Christmas markets. However, the merchandise was of higher quality than the usual- more artisanal stuff. Queries about Düsseldorf rarely come up on this website... and I can now understand why. It's a nice enough city, but there's not enough there to entice visitors to go out of their way to see it. I think its more attractive than Köln, but that's not saying too much. What remains of the Altstadt is fairly small and understated- looks more Dutch than German. The suburb of Oberkassel on the opposite bank of the Rhine is, however, one of the most elegant residential areas of any major city that I've seen in Europe.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Good that you went to Düsseldorf. I've only been there in the summer. True, between Köln and Düsseldorf, I would pick Düsseldorf too mainly for its cultural and historical attractions. Düsseldorf is a wealthy and expensive city, walking through the Königsallee reveals that.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"Düsseldorf is a wealthy and expensive city, walking through the Königsallee reveals that." Oh yeah, the bling factor was well on display yesterday! I'm guessing that the wealthier citizens live mostly in Oberkassel.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Today I visited Hasselt's (Belgium) Winterland. Although I like Hasselt well enough, it's not a city I would recommend going far out of your way to visit. However, it's worth making the trip from Brussels/Brugge/Ghent/Antwerpen/Aachen to Hasselt in December to check out Winterland. Quite simply, it's the most elaborate Christmas market I've yet to see in Europe. Actually, "Chrismas market" doesn't accurately describe it. More like a "Christmas Fair". This being Belgium, there's plenty of food stalls selling the usual (grilled meats, waffles, fries, crepes) and the somewhat unusual (soups, fish dishes, pastas, Asian noodles, etc.) And plenty of stalls selling Glühwein, beer, coffee, and jenever (local specialty, sort of a variety of gin). Winterland also features rides, including a wild mouse roller coaster, midway games, a large temporary ice ring, and even a full service Christmas-themed restaurant. As for merchandise... just the basic stuff that you see in most Christmas markets, nothing too special. However, Hasselt itself is well-known in Belgium for it's traffic-free shopping district, which is located within walking distance of Winterland. This year, I visited in the middle of the day, but I think it's best to see in the evening. With all the beverage stands, it more or less becomes one giant happy hour.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Ok so here's the comprehensive list of markets after my travels:
-Berlin - only managed to get to two: the "nostalgic" market across from the history museum on under den linden (stayed across from it last year so well aquainted with this market). it's a nice little one, despite the touristy location it's full of eccentric locals, including one lady who kept dancing with her dog. standard fare. the second was the Gendarmenmarkt again, which despite the 1 euro price is still one of the loveliest and most interesting markets i've been to. sad i didn't have time to visit more markets in Berlin. -Bamberg - loved the city, but their market was a real letdown. Just not distinguishable or unique at all, and not in the medieval section of the old city - why??? -Salzburg - A+ for setting, great atmosphere underneath the baroque facaces between the mountains, the offerings at the market itself were pretty standard. still, it's close to Munich, so if you're in the area, why not visit? -Munich- lovely setting for the markt on Marienplatz and the tree, otherwise not super impressed with the decorations or offerings at the main Christkindlmarkt. Munich has so many markets though - we also popped into the little Senlingertor market, the gay "Pink Christmas" markt at the edge of the glockenviertel, the mittlealtermarkt at Wittlesbachplatz and the market in the Hofburg. I like spread out markets throughout a city, like Berlin, but found Berlin's markets to feel more diverse and different than Munichs'. All in all, surprisingly, I still think the joint combo of Stuttgart-Esslingen is the best two markets I've been to in Germany, and they're only 15 minutes apart! I generally don't think Stuggi has much to recommend it as a tourist town, but for Christmas, it's great. Will enjoy the last night tomorrow....after a trip to Frankfurt.

Posted by Brenda
Philadelphia, PA, USA
69 posts

We spent Dec 16-Dec23 in Germany on a Christmas Market tour. We did an open jaw trip starting in Munich,then used trains to see Nuremberg, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, and Wurtzburg (briefly) before flying out of Frankfurt. General thoughts: 1) it gets dark around 4-4:30pm so do your sightseeing early and spend the late afternoon/evening at the market; its fun to see the market lit up. 2) the markets are somewhat similar, but regional differences do show up in tha each city seems to have its own type of ornaments, sausage and alcoholic punch 3) if you travel after 9am, use the "Bavaria ticket" on the train as it's much less expensive (~26 euro for a group of 1-5 people, must use regional ie slower trains though) 4) Dress warmly and in layers b/c you'll be outside for long periods. Specific thoughts: 1) Munich - husband's favorite, but this was our first market ever and his first trip to Munich. Lots of stands, spread out to a few sections of the city, the main one in front of the Rathaus with the glockenspiel. 5-story Christmas tree , & the stands offered a lot of variety. 2) Nuremberg. The market was beautiful and immensely crowded, spread through the city. There was a balcony from which people can take great pictures of the market and cathedral. The Nuremberg Angel (young girl, like a Fair Queen, long blonde hair in a gold cloak, a symbol of the market) was roaming through the crowd and that was fantastic. Lots of variety, great food and sweets. 3) Rotheberg odT - this is a perfectly picturesque medieval town - a must see, though the market itself was very small. The entire town was decorated and it was incredible
4) Wurtzberg- great city- small market, disliked it, more like a craft fair,not really christmasy

Posted by christie
upland, ca, usa
16 posts

Markets in munich were packed like disneyland on 4th of july, but lots of people enjoying themselves with hot wine. The shops just outside marienplatz are fabulous. We went to a little christmas market in paris near left bank. The gluwein was disgusting but the gifts were truly beautiful, one of a kind objects that made my pocketbook shrivel up in fear.

Posted by christie
upland, ca, usa
16 posts

Markets in munich were packed like disneyland on 4th of july, but lots of people enjoying themselves with hot wine. The shops just outside marienplatz are fabulous. We went to a little christmas market in paris near left bank. The gluwein was disgusting but the gifts were truly beautiful, one of a kind objects that made my pocketbook shrivel up in fear.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1391 posts

Visited 10 markets this year: Rothenburg, Ulm, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, St. Gilgen, Strobl, Traunstein, Augsburg and Munich. Even though the snow delayed our arrival into Frankfurt, it did make it extra special this year. The variety of markets, in the city and in the country, made it more fun this year. The smaller, out in the countryside, markets were absolutely beautiful. The lights, brass band ensembles, nativity scenes and the elaborately decorated stalls made it feel more like Christmas. If you would like to see pics and read about my travels, send me a personal message for my blog website.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Well, since people are asking about Christmas markets, thought I would bump this back up to the top of the list. On my list for this year is Frankfurt of course, then Büdingen, Idstein, Bad Homburg, Frankfurt Höchst, and Rüdesheim. Really want to make it up to Marburg this year, and may try for the one held at the Kronberg castle. I thought I had written about Idstein and Seligenstadt on here, but I don't know where. I like both of these markets a lot. Idstein for one of the best atmospheres I have experienced and Seligenstadt for the high quality artisan items on sale in the Abbey. That part of the market is just on 2 weekends, and the rest of the market runs all of Advent. That part is ok, but nothing exceptional, though there are a lot of fachwerk buildings here to admire.