Best Christmas Markets?

Nov 1st, 2005, 12:01 PM
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Best Christmas Markets?

I'll perhaps be visiting Germany this December and would like to see a vibrant Christmas market - while i don't need to see the best i'd like to know what those who have visited such markets think of them - worthwile going out of my way for - and what are some good markets. Danke.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 12:09 PM
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I've never heard of a Christmas market except on this board. What exactly is it and are they just in Europe or in North America as well?
hdm is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 12:57 PM
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My favorite Christmas market has consistently been the market in Muenster. It's off the usual track, its customers are mostly local so it tends to have a better selection of nice Christmas items. Plus it's held in the heart of Muenster's old town, which is attractive and worth seeing on its own. There is usually live music of some kind at night. AND they make the best freshly sugared and roasted almonds I've ever tasted, my favorite Christmas shopping snack.
Muensterland is also one of my favorite places in Germany.

My least favorite market is in Aachen. Very crowded, mostly alcoholic drinks and poor quality merchandise.

Anyone know what Dresden's market is like? Now that the church is restored, it's a place I'd like to see this winter.

BTilke is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 01:26 PM
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hdm, I'm not exactly sure what a Christmas market is either, but I think they have something similar in Bryant Park in New York City. Last year it consisted of several tent-like "kiosks" (kind of like those at traveling arts and crafts shows in the US) where you could buy things like Christmas ornaments, candles, leather goods, bath and body stuff, etc.

I'd love to know if the European markets are different than this...
hunnym is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 01:39 PM
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I haven't been to the one in München, but I very much enjoyed the ones in Heidelberg and Nürnberg (it was quite a few years ago, though I doubt they change much).
StCirq is online now  
Nov 1st, 2005, 02:52 PM
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My daughter's high school choir went to Vienna to sing at their "international Advent sing" that is held at the Rathaus. Outside the Rathaus, they were holding their Christmas market. She brought home some beautiful things and I think the added energy of music would be cool.
AuntAnnie is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 03:20 PM
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No matter which Christkindl markt you visit, make sure to try the gluhwein (glow wine), which is hot, spiced wine.
The markts I have visited in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Freiburg, Munich, Heidelberg, Nuremburg (the biggest one) have all been very worthwhile.
platzman is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2005, 04:03 PM
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You may not need to go 'out of your way' to see them as they occur at samll to large German cities. Granted, the smaller ones are but a weekend or two but still they try to capture the spirit. (My grandparents were from Sailauf and they have theirs on one Saturday in Dec!)

In 2003 we went to some in the former East Germanyresden, Annaburg-Bucholz (sp) and Naumberg. Dresden was huge and wonderful and the other two were quaint yet still very much worth it.

We have enjoyed them all as they add to the ambiance of the city we are in. We are going again and plan to check them in Trier, Luxembourg City and Brussels.
tmh is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 12:38 AM
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Christmas markets are held in many German cities mostly starting around the last weekend in November. They go til Christmas Eve. These markets are little quaint villages composed of wooden booths and nicely decorated where tradtional (sometimes less tradtional) Christmas goods incl. handicrafts (ornaments)are sold. Mulled wine and sausages, waffles and crepes are offered for sale and some stands sell even spirits. The most famous ones and biggest are in Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Frankfurt but as said before you find them in most cities in Germany around this time of the year. There is always a very nice pre-Christmas (Advent)mood with carols and choirs (mostly live)at those markets and people go even in groups in preparation and waiting for the big day. If you are in Germany during this time of the year you should not miss a Christmas market (By the way a very famous and nice market is also in Strassbourg at the french border close to Germany)
Marlin1 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:15 AM
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Thanks for the great description of the markets, Marlin1!
hunnym is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:32 AM
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Sounds wonderful!
hdm is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:36 AM
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Interested to hear Nuremberg is the biggest : I'd previously heard it is the oldest, so maybe those 2 facts together make it the best ?

Elsewhere, isn't there somewhere with markets in caves ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:42 AM
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We really enjoyed the markets at Rothenburg which, of course, is a good destination in itself.
shandy is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 04:33 AM
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Some Christmas markets now continue beyond Christmas Day.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:00 AM
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Just to add to Marlin1 description.

American Christmas craft fairs are nothing compared to Germany and Austria's Christmas markets. Crafter's in these countries have been making their ornaments all year long and most are handcrafted. This is their job and some sell their x-mas ornaments all year long. They are considered some of the most beautiful ornaments in the world.

PalenqueBob, you had to start this thread. I will be in France for 13 days in December. You just made me add a daytrip to Strassbourg to my itinerary!
parisnow is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:08 AM
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Having gone to the one in Frankfurt for many years, I can state it is wonderful, authentic, and my favorite-many many fond memories of spending frosty days there, keeping myself warm by drinking gluhwein, eating and shopping, meeting up with friends, etc. I can see it in my mind's eye, and I always think of it at Christmas time, as it's been quite a few years since I've been back to one there. FRA's market is set up in the Roemer-they sell gluhwein, potato pancakes and apfelmus (applesauce) to go with the potato pancakes, among many other good things to eat (sausages of course, but the above are the true Christmas specialties). Also Stollen (another Christmas specialty-a long rounded loaf-shaped cake dusted with powdered sugar, containing nuts and dried citrus peel, -absolutely NOTHING like Am. fruitcake, btw!) The home-baked and packaged ones the market sells from the Konditorei are esp. good. Now here's the interesting thing about Stollen-it was first made and sold at Germany's oldest Christmas market-dating from the 1400's-Dresden. It was, and is called Dresdener Stollen in that city. If anyone has the opportunity to pick up a good Stollen here in the US, you should-(certain bakeries sell them in the US, also gourmet specialty shops). Better yet, bring them back to the US from Germany as I used to do for the family Christmas-everyone loved it.

Have been to the Christmas mkt. in Nuerenberg also and it is much bigger than FRA's with even more to eat and more specialty artisanal kiosks set up-great places to get hand-made German ornaments, German nutcracker dolls, and other good hand-made wooden toys. These two, FRA and Nu'berg -are markets I would highly recommend. However, I have never been to the one in Dresden, and given that it is the oldest, and the place where Stollen first appeared, then I'd have to say this would probably be the market of Christmas markets-friends of mine just got back from Dresden and said the on-going restoration of the city is just fantastic, a truly elegant city-that's good enough for me.

I should say, that the Christmas market in Brussels is NOTHING like a Christmas market in Germany. Oh it looks fairly similar, but the comparison ends there. There's nothing of the same ambience, tradition, and it seemed more commercialized and quite soulless-I didn't really care for it at all.

The only truly authentic Christmas markets, imo, are in Germany and Austria.
Spygirl is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:33 AM
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Actually, the Brussels Christmas market is NOT as commercialized as Spygirl says. In fact, *many* of the booths are run by charities with ALL proceeds donated, about as uncommercial as you can get! My husband and I volunteered in a few of the charity booths; it was a lot of fun. The money raised by these booths goes to a lot of worthy causes--shelters for abused women, helping the homeless, animal rescue etc.
The Christmas market in Brussels used to be in the Grand'Place and it was quite attractive there--the setting is magnificent. But the city recently decided to spread it around town, which spoils it, IMHO. You really have to hike around to cover the whole thing and if the weather is uncooperative (and it usually is in December), it's easy to say it's not worth it.
Over the years, we've bought some very nice things at the Brussels market, including some beautiful handblown glass items from Poland that we still use regularly. We don't like the new arrangement, however, so won't go this year.
BTilke is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:44 AM
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hi, PalenqueBob,

marlin1 and others gave you the general outline. For further research

It depends on where you will travel in Germany, i.e. if you come via FRA airport, the answer would be Frankfurt

Or if you prefer Munich as a hub, it would be the München Christkindlmarkt
and those in the suburbs and surroundings, 46 such markets, they claim for themselves, you see at

For something special, maybe you are around in Saxony - but, watch out for raod conditions in winter (this said for people not familiar with the concept of winter tires):

Chemnitz - has a quite big one, but Chemnitz doesn´t offer that much urban beauty worthwile a detour, but nevertheless, it is also typical in some way:

Dresden - Striezelmarkt is one of the oldest and also a big and crowded one. Besides, Dresden and surroundings, as Meissen, is always worth a visit

Leipzig - has also a fine Weihnachtsmarkt, but is not limited to that. If you like music and/or books, you will also loke Leipzig

At those Saxonian Christmas markets, you can get the original Erzgebirge woodcrafts. These are part of the regional Christmas traditions, as, it is said, people from Erzgebirge have a very special way to celebrate christmas.

Some of these wooden decorations are:
- Kurrende, little wooden figurines of carol singers with a church, to be displayed as a decoration
- Räuchermänner, wooden smoker figurines, hollowed inside to burn incense cones in them, giving you this special smell related with christmas. These also make fine souvenirs or gifts, as they come in many variations, referring to professions or typical people, i.e a hunter with his dog and a hare in his knapsack, or a grandmother, not smoking but witch smoking dumplings on her stove and more
- Nussknacker, wooden nutcrackers to crack nuts
- Engel und Bergmann, a miner and an angel figurine, bearing two candles, a traditional christmas decoration
- Schwibbogen, a wooden bow chandelier, a typical decoration for windows
- Permetten, Pyramiden, a turning pyramid ornated with wooden figurines, driven by a fan and burning candles. These Pyramids are the masterpieces of Erzgebirge woodcraft artisans.

The little village of Seiffen / Erzgebirge is famous for the woodcraft artisans located there. You can even watch those artisans doing woodworks at their workshops:

Maybe this will give you the idea to do some further internet research.
hhildebrandt is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:56 AM
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BTilke-I stand by what I said-BRU Christmas market is NOTHING like the Christmas markets in Germany-does not compare in any way. The many charity booths are fine, for what that's worth, but it becomes a whole different type of "market"-more like some outdoor week-end fair-each charity with its own "cause" to promote-a coercive incentive, as it were, to buy something-and is thus an example of how it is NOT like German Christmas markets at all.

It's fine if you happen to be in BRU-but to be avoided completely if you're searching for the real thing.
Spygirl is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Spygirl, nice display of back pedaling and squirming. You called the Brussels market commercial and soulless. I pointed out the *fact* that many of the booths are anything but that. And there is NO coercion of any kind, for crying out loud. What a ridiculous and unfair putdown of the volunteers about whom you obviously know nothing.
And where EXACTLY did *I* say the Brussels market was just like a market in Germany? I didn't. No one did.
BTilke is offline  

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