Best Christmas Markets throughout north and north-west Germany

Categories: Family and Kids, Sightseeing, Cultural and History, Entertainment

Christmas Market Hildesheim
Christmas Market Hildesheim

[ source: Wikipedia]

Unthinkable for Germans would be Christmas without Christmas Markets starting in the Advent season. Over 130 towns host such a festive market, each one emphasizing regional specialties and flair. Mark those dates in your calendar and join in the most romantic, not to be missed festivities.

Have you come to the somewhat depressing conclusion that there is no way you could possibly visit all ofthe Christmas markets that appeal to you this year? If so, you might have also arrived at the decision thatyou need to focus on a specific region. If you are drawn to the coast and the bustle of northern Germany,here are a few must-see markets to consider in your trip planning.

Eastern Germany hosts some of the oldest markets in the country. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt boasts the longest history, delighting visitors since 1434. Today its renowned giant wooden Christmas pyramid towers at 50 feet, ornamented with 42 handcrafted figures. Just a short distance away, Leipzig has the country’s second oldest market. Its impressive freestanding Advent calendar is considered the biggest in the world. Another logical city to visit in this general region is Berlin with its rich array of markets to satisfy every taste.

Now, if you are yearning for the coast, Lübeck and Rostock offer markets with a distinctive Baltic flair. In Rostock, Father Christmas opens the city’s Christmas market by arriving by boat in the harbor. All marzipan fans should be sure to check out the market at Niederegger’s shop in Lübeck, where they can sample the marzipan delights only prepared at Christmastime.

Hamburg and Cologne each offer an array of Christmas markets, ranging from rustic historic markets to fairy tale magic. In contrast, Düsseldorf hosts a single large market with over 200 booths and a large ice rink for romantic skating evenings. Last but definitely not least, Bremen’s market is set up against one of the most scenic backdrops in Germany: the city’s iconic town hall.

Be it in the old Hanseatic Cities of Rostock (Rostock vacation rentals | Rostock travel guide), Lübeck (Lübeck vacation rentals | Lübeck travel guide), Hamburg (Hamburg vacation rentals | Hamburg travel guide), Lüneburg (Lüneburg vacation rentals | Lüneburg travel guide) or Bremen (Bremen vacation rentals | Bremen travel guide) or further inland, all Christmas Markets hold their own charm and characteristics, staged in the most beautiful historical setting of each city. Ever growing in popularity, national and international guests are amongst their many visitors, each and everyone enjoying the smells, tastes, sights and sounds to remember.

Rostock

Rostock, the almost 800 year old Hanseatic Town, has retained much of its original charm and is home to a diverse cultural scene. This cosmopolitan university- and port-town has a Historical Center with typical northern-style German brick architecture and a maritime atmosphere.

Once a year, the twinkling glitter of the Christmas lights glow along the River Warnow (Warnow vacation rentals | Warnow travel guide) and the Baltic Sea and transform the Historic City Center of Rostock into the largest, and one of the most gorgeous Christmas Markets in the North of Germany. Here, Father Christmas traditionally arrives in the town harbor by boat to open the Christmas Market. Northern specialties include candied apples, deep-fried bananas, candy floss, baby doughnuts, burnt almonds, Glögg, a sort of Swedish mulled wine and biscuits from Sweden; smoked sausages from Rostock, smoked fish from Warnemünde (Warnemünde vacation rentals | Warnemünde travel guide) and north German fried fish in batter.

Lübeck

The entire oval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lübeck is nowadays a modern trading port and, via the coastal resort of Travemünde (Travemünde vacation rentals | Travemünde travel guide), a terminal for ferries to and from Scandinavia and the Baltic.

A stroll around the Christmas-Fair area, which was first mentioned in 1648, is an absolute Must-Do for all Lübeck visitors. The market and its some 400 merchants offer toys and Christmas decoration, gingerbread, hot spiced wine and plenty of other things.

For 30 years Lübeck's Fairy-tale Forest has been a festive attraction. 500 illuminated fir-trees and 21 stalls recreate beautifully the tales of the Brothers Grimm. (Open till 23rd Dec.)

The Historic Christmas Fair at the foot of St. Mary's Church makes visitors travel through time; medieval flair unfolds amidst modern Lübeck. (Open 26.11-23.12)

The Crafts Fair at St. Peter's offers with over 50 craftsmen and -women from Northern Germany a wide variety of traditional and contemporary gift ideas. (Open 27.11-14.12)

The arts and crafts market inside the festively decorated church-hall and in the small cabins of the long hall of the medieval Hospital of the Holy Spirit is unique! The exhibitors come from all over Germany and Northern Europe. (Open 28.11-08.12)

Of course, Christmas in Lübeck would not be complete without a visit to the Christmas Bazaar at Niederegger's, where you can taste famous marzipan cake, a delicious gateau with a rich nut brittle cream and a thin coat of marzipan.

Hamburg

The Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany's second largest metropolis and is home to one of Europe's largest ports. There is a taste of far-away places throughout the city, even in the little canals and waterways of the old warehouse district.

During Advent, Hamburg's Town Hall provides the grand setting for the city's most charming Christmas Market. One hundred merchants will set up their shops on Hamburg's largest Urban Square. Roast apples, hand-crafted items and the quaint cottages designed by Bernhard Paul, director of the famed nostalgic Circus Roncalli, set this Christmas Market apart from seasonal activities elsewhere.

Here you will find hand-crafted Christmas decorations from the Erzgebirge region, wood carvers from Tyrol, bakers from Aachen (Aachen vacation rentals | Aachen travel guide) producing their famous Printen-Cookies on the scene, Gingerbread makers from Nuremberg (Nuremberg vacation rentals | Nuremberg travel guide) and pottery from the Lausitz region. Silversmiths and many other artisans and craftsmen invite you to marvel, join in, taste and enjoy. New is the Nordic Lane, a tribute to Hamburg's traditionally close ties to the countries of Scandinavia and the Baltic region. Santa Claus is riding up to the sky above the roofs of the market cottages in his reindeer sleigh.

Lüneburg

Lüneburg is located on the edge of the Lüneburger Heath between Hamburg and Hannover. In the middle ages salt, the so called white gold, made Lüneburg a very prosperous town; this is still evident today as most of its magnificent and historic buildings are intact and in their former glory.

This ancient salt-trading and Hanseatic Town has a romantic Christmas Market atmosphere, with Christmas lights showing its gabled houses and medieval churches in the most beautiful light. Booths decorated on Brothers Grimm Fairy-tale themes transform Lüneburg's pedestrian streets into a magical fairy-tale world. A daily special and changing Christmas program starts from 4pm daily.

Bremen

Bremen, 37 miles from the mouth of the River Weser and Germany's oldest Maritime City, has held markets since 965, joined the Hanseatic League in 1358 and began to trade with America in 1783. Cotton and coffee gave its citizens a rich living.

Bremen's atmospheric Christmas Market is considered to be one of the most attractive in Germany. With the Town Hall and the Roland Statue as its backdrop and over 170 festively decorated stalls, it is perfect for browsing. Bremen also has another Christmas attraction, the Schlachte-Magic on the popular River Weser embankment. Each day on the maritime promenade another little door is opened to reveal a special surprise, like a walk-through Advent Calendar. There are many experiences to choose from, Christmas brunch on the Weser, a Christmas tree expedition, some seriously strong hot punch and a real Dutch Sinter Klaas on board a pirate ship. The aroma of steaming mulled wine, baked apples and cinnamon stars lies heavy in the air, while softly the most beautiful Christmas carols ring out in the background.

Hannover

The lively City Center with its impressive shopping boulevard and the charming Old Town with its narrow streets and secluded corners on the banks of the River Leine invite you to shop and enjoy yourself.

Hannover's Christmas Market takes place in the historical Old Quarter around the Market Church and on the Ballhofplatz. Visitors looking for a souvenir are spoilt for choice, with no fewer than 150 attractive stalls selling Christmas tree decorations, carved items, wooden toys and craft work. The children's program features a puppeteer and a storyteller.

Braunschweig (Braunschweig vacation rentals | Braunschweig travel guide)

The city of Henry the Lion combines tradition and modernity. Alongside the former medieval market-place and Romanesque buildings, you will nowadays also find the glass-roofed pedestrianized passages of the shopping area.

Braunschweig's Christmas Market has a splendid backdrop, the cathedral of Henry the Lion, the Dankwarderode-Castle and the Vieweg-House. This Christmas Market's history goes back 300 years and surrounded by fine half-timbered buildings, it is full of traditional charm and Christmas delights. There is a daily festive Christmas program with entertainment for children.

Hildesheim

Only 30 kilometers south of Hannover (Hannover vacation rentals | Hannover travel guide), Hildesheim (Hildesheim vacation rentals | Hildesheim travel guide) has been a cultural center between the Harz and Heath for over a 1,000 years. The historic Market Square is one of the most beautiful old market-places in Germany. Its special highlight is the reconstructed Knochenhauer-Amtshaus, former butchers' guild hall, where city history and hospitality are combined under one roof.

Hildesheim's Christmas Market comes to life on the historical Market Square and around the town hall. The impressive facade of the Knochenhaueramtshaus is believed to be the most beautiful half-timbered house in the world! One of the highlights of the Christmas events program are the Hildesheim Cathedral Musicians.

Hamelin

Hamelin is a beautiful and enchanting little town in the very heart of the Weser Mountains Nature Park, the mountains being called after the same river which flows through the town of Hamelin. Attractions worth a visit in the area are the Hämelschenburg-Castle, the Hamelin (Hamelin vacation rentals | Hamelin travel guide) Glassworks or take a relaxing riverboat excursion along the Weser valley, one of the loveliest and best ways to see its fairy tale landscape

Due to the historic background, the Hamelin Christmas Market can truly be described as a genuine Fairy-Tale Market. The Hamelin Christmas Market features over 70 festively decorated wooden huts; all clustered around the Wedding House, the Market Church and around the picturesque Old Quarter with it's lovingly restored timber-framed houses and grand Weser Renaissance buildings. Highlights of Hamelin's Christmas Market are the Nativity Scene, which has real animals to stroke, and a Christmas Pyramid at only a mere 11 meters tall.

Osnabrück

Surrounded by narrow medieval streets, the historical Town Hall with its Friedenssaal, Peace Hall, lies in Osnabrück's old town. The marketplace in front of the Rathaus is one of the most beautiful records of urban medieval architecture. The only Tower Railway Station in Germany was build in Osnabrück (Osnabrück vacation rentals | Osnabrück travel guide) more than 100 years ago, and the railway tracks still cross on two separate levels.

The world's biggest Christmas musical box turns to the sound of Christmas carols and the half-timbered buildings in the historical Old Quarter are adorned with festive illuminations. Osnabrück's historical Christmas Market has twice been ranked as one of the prettiest in the region and a fully functional Nutcracker, six meters tall, adds to the local flair.

Münster

Münster's historic Old Quarter is packed with cultural history at the beautiful Prinzipalmarkt-Square, with the St. Paul's Cathedral and its astronomical clock dating back to 1543, and the Salzstrasse, or salt-street, reminding of Hanseatic tradition and buildings by Baroque architect Johann Conrad Schlaun.

Münster's Christmas Market becomes more festive and more fairy-tale like every year. Set against the charming backdrop of the illuminated Old Quarter, its six Christmas Markets are within a stone's throw of each other. There are 250 stalls in all, offering a huge range of toys, decorations and crafts, as well as sweet treats, snacks and hot drinks. Definitely a place to be!



About this Article

Monika Petra

This travel guide has been written by Monika Petra.

In her own words: When children are born they receive certain gifts to put them to good use or not. In my cradle there must have been at least music and the curiosity for the world we live in. Luckily I could combine those gifts eventually. My live as a jazz vocalist guided me to see and experience many places in Germany and far beyond. As in my music I like to dive in the historical background of given facts, simply to understand the present. During my travel, my circles got wider and wider and since many years I am now living in Thailand, very interesting to say the least. I grew up in Paderborn, lived and studied Jazz in Cologne's Musikhochschule and worked a while in Bayreuth and Kulmbach. My travels throughout Germany took me to all major cities and small towns. It was the people and local differences, be it language, food, traditions and customs, which made it a lot of fun. When finally the wall came down, I was one of those in Berlin posing on the rests of it for the camera. Off course I took the first opportunity to rediscover the new but old states of Germany and finally understood the impact the wall had on all Germans and in regards to the worst part in German history. Being a German living abroad, I discovered in years what I value most about Germany. Rest assured it is a country of rich cultural background still alive today. I visit my home country regularly and stay in touch with my friends, even those back from school. Another thing I always felt passionate about is writing and sharing my experience and thoughts. The internet provides us all with a great opportunity to connect, tell stories, read and learn from others and grow as a global community.

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