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Christmas Markets / Christmas experience.

Christmas Markets / Christmas experience.

Dec 1st, 2013, 08:19 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2011
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Christmas Markets / Christmas experience.

My husband and myself are planning to visit Europe in December 2014 to see the Christmas markets and to experience their way of celebrating the festive season. We plan to go more or less from 10 December to 27/28 December. We want to book our tickets as soon as we can, but now the difficult decision; where to go? There are so many beautiful places. We are thinking of staying in 3 diffirent place for around 6 nights in each. At the moment we are thinking of Praag and then 2 other places, maybe at least one in Germany. We usually rent a car, but as it is Winter and we are not use to snow, we wil make use of public transport. Please help! We are from South Africa.
ErnaGrobler4 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2013, 12:48 PM
  #2  
 
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All major cities and many minor ones in Germany have markets - indeed many of the bigger ones have multiple markets (Cologne usually has 7!), so you are only limited by your imagination. However, for the most part they pretty much close by 23 - 24 December in Germany. In some other places they open a little longer.

Since you are going to Prague, I would include Dresden on your list - it's supposed to be the home of Christmas markets, and the authentic wooden Christmas ornaments come from the Erzgebirge nearby. Not that you cannot get wooden ornaments at other markets, but they are frequently not made in Germany. Plus Dresden is a really easy train ride from Prague.

Lavandula
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Dec 2nd, 2013, 04:07 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2011
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As per lavandula, I would also recommend Dresden to add to your list of places to visit. The Christmas Market there is small but perfectly formed - right at the foot of the Frauenkirche, in the old town and been going since 1400s.

With that in mind, I'd like to suggest adding Berlin to your list. It's an easy train ride from Prague to Dresden to Berlin and you could look at flying out of Berlin back to SA rather than having to go back to Prague.

Berlin has a ridiculous amount of Christmas Markets (around 62 at last count!) and also has a great deal more to keep you occupied and sightseeing. Plus some of these Christmas Markets stay open until New Year's Eve, so you can eat and drink yourselves silly on Gluhwein and Pfeffernusse!

You might not need 6 nights in Dresden, 3 should cover it for Markets and museums, so keep that in mind when you're planning your days. And Prague has some good day trips available as well (Kutna Hora, Plzen) so allow time for those in your planning if they interest you.

Once you work out where you'll be for Christmas (24 AND 25 December are both celebrated), book dinner for yourselves (usually by June next year places will have an idea of prices and menus) if you want something special.

As for the cold - and yes it will be! - make sure you have warm and waterproof footwear (nothing better than warm toes in cold snow), gloves, scarves, hat/tuque/beanie, and a good coat/jacket. Start looking in your Winter and if you don't find what you need, then go online or layer dress and be prepared to buy a good coat/pair of boots on your first day in Prague. There are some great shops (department stores esp) if you get stuck, but ideally you would land ready to go.
madamtrashheap is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 05:28 PM
  #4  
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Dresden has several - I like the one right by the Frauenkirche & the one in the Altmarkt. Gotta love strolling down the street, sampling original Dresdner Stollen, listening to those old time Christmas favorites "Feliz Navidad", "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph"
J62 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 06:46 PM
  #5  
 
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Well, my recommendations would be Aachen, Essen, Cologne, and Duisburg Germany.

(I must confess that my Son and his lady run a Christmas Market hut in four of those towns and two in Cologne, so I'm a tiny bit prejudiced.)

nukesafe is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2013, 06:50 AM
  #6  
 
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I am writing from Aschaffenburg, visiting the town and it's Christmas Market. We will make 5 stops in 10 nights. We prefer smaller towns and shorter stays. We travel by train.

I think the best advice is to visits towns that you want to see on their own merit and take the Christmas Market as frosting on the cake. For us they are something nice to do in the evening but not the purpose of the trip.

This is the fifth time that we have visited Germany in Advent Season. It is a wonderful time to see the country. Hope that you enjoy it as well.
Gary_Mc is offline  
Dec 7th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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For the biggest and mostests on Christmas Markets, Munich has 20 at last count. The four around Marien Platz are outstanding. Vienna has a bunch including the big ones at the Rathaus and Schoenburg Palace. Nuremburg has one of the biggest and oldest markets and Salzburg and Rothenburg odT are charming.

The Christmas (or actually Advent) markets mostly close on the afternoon of Dec 24th. A lot of the German towns are very quiet on Christmas and the day after. The midnight service at the cathedral in Salzburg is special and worth being there for.

The market in Prague stays open till New Years.
AisleSeat is offline  
Dec 7th, 2013, 08:23 PM
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It is a common misconception that most of the markets close down on the 24th. In reality, most of the markets will have their last day on the 22nd, or possibly the 23rd. This allows them to take down their stands and be back home by the 24th, which is the big celebration day in Germany, not the 25th. There are of course exceptions to this, with a very few open on the 24th and a very few open after Christmas. Best is to check the websites of the towns you want to visit as it will tell you the dates. These are big money makers for each town and they advertise their markets heavily.

Make dinner plans on the 24th in a nice hotel as all other restaurants will be closed. The 25th and 26th are easier, though you may find a lot of places have just closed down for the holidays and will be open again the 1st week in Jan. If open, they may be busy as people like to go out to eat on Christmas Day, as well as go to concerts, church services and movies.

The 25th and 26th are official holidays with all stores closed and museums may or may not be open.

I try to go to several new Christmas markets each year, and have written reports about them. Have to say one of may favorites is the Stuttgart Market. It is spread out nicely, so you never get that cattle herding feel like you can get in places like Nuremberg or Frankfurt. Near-by is Esslingen which has a fantastic, and unusual medieval market. The town itself is lovely too. Enjoyed Strassbourg and Colmar, both are gorgeous cities with wonderful markets.

Closer to home, I like the small, one weekend only markets. This weekend was Idstein and Büdingen, both favorite places to visit any time of the year, and their markets are beautiful, winding through the cobblestone streets in an atmospheric style. Both towns are on the Half-Timbered route that runs through Germany. Esslingen was like that too.

Bad Homburg is a favorite as it is set in the palace courtyard and then winds down thru the town. Tour the palace, and make time to visit the Redeemer church next door. When you walk in the door, you will say WOW! Kaiser Wilhelm had it built in 1909 to be his go to church when he was in residence in the palace. The entire ceiling is gold mosaic.

Seligenstadt is nice and especially on the 2 weekends when they have the Abbey filled with artisans. Gorgeous settings and beautiful hand-crafted local items. Lots of half-timbered houses here.

Rudesheim is my least favorite. Though the setting is scenic and the buildings are highly decorated, the amount of kitsch that is sold there as well as the dozens of cheap, tacky souvenir stores really detracts from the market for me. Tourists like it though, and if you are there, take a ride up to the Niederwald Monument.

Aschaffenburg is just ok. The market is small and didn't really have anything to set it apart or make it worth my while to travel there from Frankfurt. The Basilica is worth a visit as is the museum set in the palace on the Main.

I like the Frankfurt market as it is the party market, just that it gets too crowded on the weekends and I wish they would spread it out more like in other cities. Mainz is the next larger market that I enjoy, as the setting is great and there are other things to go see like the Dom, the Chagall windows in St. Stephens, St. Augustine and the Isis Temple ruins. Wiesbaden is just ok. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but at night time it looks pretty. The Markt Kirche is pretty inside.

Still on my list to visit this year is Marburg, Speyer, and perhaps Cochem, though I am running out of time.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Dec 8th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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If you stay in apartments, then you don't have to worry about finding a place to eat Dec. 24-26
bigtyke is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 09:34 PM
  #10  
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THANK YOU!! With all this information I must get close to a perfect itinerary. Will post and ask your (good) advice when planning is more in a final stage. Thanks again! Erna
ErnaGrobler4 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2014, 09:35 PM
  #11  
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We add to our dates and will now leave Europe around 6 January 2015.
ErnaGrobler4 is offline  

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