The close of a display of traditional nutcrackers. A mix of Kings, toy soldiers and artisans on a stall in Cologne’s Chrismas market.

Christmas Markets, here we come again!

In Christmas, En-Route, Europe, France, Germany, Inspiration, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

We just can’t resist the lure of twinkling markets

2017 will be our 10th year at visiting Cologne at Christmas.  I understand that those of you who have never been, must think, “why do you keep returning?”

People entering through an advent arch into the Meimat der Heinzel market as snow falls in an already wintery scene.

Entrance to the Home of the Elves

Well other than it is a wonderful time of the year.

It is just great fun and a fantastic atmosphere.

What we love about the German Christmas markets is that the festivities are for the young, and the old.

There are revellers of all ages enjoying themselves.

Quick Links

Date for the diary

You really need to book early as these markets are very popular.

Back on the road again

For us, our Christmas Market adventures are always turned into a road trip, although living in the southeast of the UK this does make it a little easier.

Our Cologne Christmas bauble; bright red with a glitter iced topping.  Koln is written the traditional German way.

Koln Christmas Heart Decoration

However, we enjoy the freedom of bringing back whatever we like.  Whether that’s stocking up on gingerbread or grabbing a tree topper from Käthe Wohlfahrt, it’s all possible and could prove to be a bit challenging with baggage restrictions.

A woman inspecting the gingerbread at a Christmas market stall in Cologne. The display is full of hanging iced gingerbread hearts.

Carefully selecting the Lebkuchen hearts at the Christmas Markets

In 2016, not only did we enjoy the usual revelries in Cologne we ventured further afield and experienced the delights of Düsseldorf, Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber & Stuttgart.

The close of a display of traditional nutcrackers. A mix of Kings, toy soldiers and artisans on a stall in Cologne’s Chrismas market.

Toy soldiers and more at the Christmas Market

Now even for us, five destinations were a little bit of a push, so not let it be said we are defeatists. This year we are visiting four. Although we do plan on spending a little more time in London, as we only spent a few hours last year

Of course, Cologne must go on the list, it just wouldn’t be right otherwise, but it’s going to be our final destination. Each year this city offers something new, and we'll revisit some of the old haunts too.

Words of advice

These markets become extremely busy at the weekends, particularly in the evenings. Children may feel a bit swamped with the crowds.

Not just Germany this year

For 2017 we are adding Strasbourg (I know it’s in France, but why should the Germans have all the fun) and it was 2008 since we were last visited this ancient tradition.

We're really looking forward to see if we can feast on the markets, or if this is a reserve of the German Markets. Will we be exchanging bratwurst for tarte flambée?

Angels with trumpets illuminate the way along Rue Mercière to Strasbourg's cathedral.

Avenue of Angels, Strasbourg, France

Each year in Place Gutenberg a different country is invited to add a touch of their local traditions and delicacies, in 2016 it was Portugal, who will it be for 2017, I think it could be Iceland?

A small group of people gather between a Christmas market stall and the carousel in Place De La Cathédrale.

The Carousel in the market place, Strasbourg, France

Then we wiggle on to Munich, to discover their cultural differences. Then start heading north and stop in Frankfurt, before continuing onto Cologne.

You must stay for the evening

Although all these markets are fantastic to visit during the day, they really come alive in the evenings, don’t miss it.

The little differences

With each city or town, we have been to, there has always been local specialties, so it’s going to be fun seeking these out for the new locations.

Three Nuremburger sausages in a crusty bun at the Nuremberg Christmas markets

Three in a bun, Nuremberg, Germany

In Nuremberg it was “Three in a Bun” or “Drei im Weggla” & their own Glühwein made with blueberries. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, has schneeball and these you can get all year round. Stuttgart, they were flame grilling mackerel, which we had only previously seen salmon.

Two mugs of glühwein in the 2016 Nuremberg mugs.  One is the regional version with added blueberries, and the other is a regular red version.

Two different glühweins, Nuremberg, Germany

Our prune man bought from Nuremberg. Actually, only his arms and feet are prunes; his body is made up of two dried figs, and his painted face on a walnut head, along with a false beard and hat.

The prune man, Nuremberg, Germany

A packet of gingerbread brought back from our travels to the Nuremberg Christmas markets.

Gingerbread from Nuremberg, Germany

So, what will Munich & Frankfurt have to offer?

Apparently each year at Marienplatz in the centre of Munich, advent music is performed live every evening at 5.30 p.m. from the balcony of the Town Hall. So we'll certainly be listening out for that.

After a little bit of research, I have found out that Frankfurt’s Christmas market is famous for a number of traditional Christmas delicacies, including Bethmännchen, small almond biscuits, a local tipple of hot apple wine with cinnamon and cloves. Also Quetschemännchen, colourful figures made of nuts and dried plums.

Another unique feature is the Honey House on St Paul’s Square, a 300-year-old timber frame building, is assembled every year especially for the market.

A traditional Christmas window display in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  Full of traditional nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids and advent trees,

A wonderful window display, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

We are all big kids at heart

Germany’s Christmas markets are for all ages, don’t be put off that it is all for children, it really isn’t.

It's about the friendliness

Truthfully, it’s not all about the Christmas markets, we do love Germany & its hospitality. We have visited on other occasions, in particularly on our Lakes & Lederhosen road trip, when we toured along parts of the Romantic Route. Then more recently when included Baden-Baden as a stopover on our Croatian road trip.

So, for us it gives us a fantastic opportunity to discover more of Germany.

A side view of white stone Neuschwanstein Castle set amongst the forests and the mountains of southern Bavaria.  This fairy tale castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

We have had some fantastic memories over the years, which we continually look back on. However, one that stands out for us was the year we took my parents and it snowed, that really was unforgettable.

Barbara, Janis’s Mum, tucking into a baked apple on the Christmas markets in Cologne.

Enjoying a baked apple on the Christmas Markets

Layers are the key

Dress warm and comfortable... essential.

Have You?

Visited a Christmas market, where were your favourites or do you have any recommendations?

Inspired to visit the German Christmas markets?

What's stopping you? - you won't regret it.

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