Shopping at Christmas markets

Mar 4th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Shopping at Christmas markets

Has anyone been to Christmas markets in Austria and/or Germany? Where are the best ones?
Pittsburghparis is offline  
Mar 4th, 2006, 03:21 PM
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Last December I took a Danube Christmas Cruise that featured markets in Austria (Vienna) and Germany (Passau, Regensburg, and Nuremberg). All were first rate, with Vienna's being the largest. Passau had the best woodwork, and Regensburg was my favorite town. It had 3 markets, including one held in the Thurn und Taxis palace.

The Nuremberg market is quite large and one of the oldest, and the setting is very convenient to the city's shopping district.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 4th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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I spent a week at the markets in Dec. The shopping at Nuremberg was pretty good. (I had expected to be put off by the crowds but we were there on Monday and it wasn't crowded at all.) I also enjoyed Munich very much. Those are the two markets that have prune men and I was shopping for them. We went to Saltzburg and I enjoyed it but don't think I bought anything. The atmosphere is good though. Honestly, I did not go to the markets to shop, just to soak up the atmosphere and to eat and drink. We went to Heidelberg but it was rainy and was at the last so really have no comment about it. (Did hear the most English there.)

If you decide to go, let us know where you are going and we might have some suggestions. Carol
CarolJean is offline  
Mar 4th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Pittsburghparis, are you new to the forum? There are a few of us from the 'Burgh who post on here and just thought I'd "introduce" myself.
grandmere is offline  
Mar 4th, 2006, 07:14 PM
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Nearly all cities and villages in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France (Eastern) have Christmas markets. Some of the most enjoyable are in the smaller towns. We enjoyed several along the Rhine. Stuttgart has an outstanding market with great atmosphere and shopping. Nurnberg is a classic (and you get to enjoy the Nurnberger wursts--finger-licking good). The tiny village of Seiffen, south of Dresden/right on the Czech border, supplies most of the wooden ornaments and other Christmas goodies. I swear that there are enough ornaments at the markets for every person in the world to have at least a dozen!!

Go and have a blast. Dress warmly.


Jinx Hoover
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Mar 4th, 2006, 08:38 PM
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I thought the ornament stalls were like walking into wonderland. Such richness!
Underhill is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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What happens to these markets in the summer? In June, 1983, we were in Salzburg and found an outdoor market, I am sure it wasn't as great as a Christmas market but it was very nice and we didn't know anything different. Do they have similar markets in Regensburg, Nurember, etc in the summer. Or, do they make their ornamets, etc. in the summer and save them for the large Christmas markets? Or, do you find these items in small family shops in town. I know others must have the same question that travel in the summer and want to bring some of these treasures home. Can you find manger sets in the summer? Thanks so much. Please forgive if this is "dumb" question.
sylbea is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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In Rothenburg, Kathie Wohlfahrt's Christmas store is open year round. Prices are higher, but you can shop to your heart's content.

Also, at Wornitz just south of Rothenburg on autobahn 7, is the LEYK lighthouse factory and showroom. They make miniature Bavarian houses and buildings that are simply beautiful. You can watch them being made--then shop. WARNING...can be habit-forming. My wife has a collection of forty of the various models purchased over the past twenty years. Makes a festive Christmas village all decorated. There is a LEYK store in Rothenburg displaying the beauties.


Jinx Hoover
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Mar 5th, 2006, 06:53 AM
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Sylbea - like Jinx said, Kathe Wohlfahrt stores are a great place to get Christmas ornaments throughout the year. Not only are they in Rothenburg, but also in Oberammergau, Garmisch, Rudesheim, Heidelburg and Nuremburg. They are much more expensive than the Christkindlmarkts, but they accept credit cards, do shipping and VAT refund paperwork and have an immense selection.

In most German towns the Christmas Markets run from the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas Eve. We found the Innsbruck, Austria and Strasbourg, France markets still going up until New Year's.

I haven't seen any place where actual Christmas Markets still operate in the Summer, but most German towns do have a weekly farmer's market or special markets just for a particular festival, such as wine harvesting days or Mayday celebrations.
Zeus is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I visited Germany this past November and checked out Christmas markets in Munich, Berlin and Dresden. My fave one was the one in downtown Dresden, it was the largest and felt the liveliest from the rest. Have a wonderful time.
h2babe is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 02:43 PM
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Hi, after living in Germany for several years, I got to know the Christmas markets ( Weihnachtsmarkt) pretty well. Some are trashy, some are truly brilliant. The advice you were given to go to Rothenburg is good, (they also have great "snow balls" yummy pasty balls only found in that area) but I digress, anyway, that is a nice market, albeit a small one. Frankfurt isn't too bad, but is not particularly atmospheric. My favourite market is in Wiesbaden, which is about 30 minutes west of Frankfurt. It is a magnificent small city, with amazing architecture, very rich in history. It is also a spa town, so in addition to the Weihnachtsmarkt you can also go to the outdoor spa and swim outside whilst it is snowing which is pretty amazing. Another market to consider is in Heidelberg, the market is average, but the scenery and the ice skating make up for it.
Remember to take warm boots, for example snow boots to walk around in, you simply wont cope in the cold otherwise. Try to only go to the markets at night, thats when they really come alive, during the day they are a bit boring, but at night they are a different story. Each area will have a different type of food for you to try. Enjoy.
jjah is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 02:55 PM
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underhill, what did you buy
cigalechanta is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Not as much as I'd have liked to, because of luggage restrictions. Also, I got really, really tired of carrying things around; next time I'd take a fold-up rolling bag.

What I bought: gingerbread and ginger cookies; holiday chocolates;, a little wooden car for a child; a small nativity scene beautifully carved in wood, with a painted tree; a wood pick-up sticks set (nearly all are now plastic); a Scandinavian angel and a painted ornament from the Villeroy et Bosch shop in Salzburg; a nice trachten (folk-style) shirt for my husband the folk dancer; several lovely ornaments; a ceramic hanging painted with a bright rooster, for a friend; a beautiful candle for a wedding, and a linen buffet runner.

If only I had had more room!
Underhill is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 12:49 AM
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... oh, and make sure you get some gluhwein that you can enjoy during your stroll down the different shops...yum yum yum!
h2babe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 12:33 PM
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We're looking at taking a tour or doing a cruise. Have any recommendations so we can get to the best markets? Thanks
Nikarose is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 12:52 PM
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The cruises are good because you don't need to change hotels frequently, which usually requires putting your luggage outside your room very early in the morning. Also, some of the German towns are quite near the Danube, making access very convenient on foot or by taxi.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 01:13 PM
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Some on this thread have asked about what happens to those shops in the markets after Christmas. Well, I assume some of the shops/stands are extentions of proper shops, but I know for certain that a number of the establishments are erected only for the Christmas season.

I know this because my oldest son runs one. Actually, he operates three of them now, in three German cities, including Cologne. He tells me the right to run many of the shops is sort of handed down from father to son -- his Cologne shop comes to him from his German lady's father, who ran it for many years before.

Their booths are really cleverly engineered productions that are pre-assembled, completely stocked, disassembled, components loaded into special trucks, unloaded, and assembled in the town square in an amazingly short span of time. They work extremely hard, almost maniacally so, for about five or six months of the year, getting the booths and their stock ready, and selling. They are then able to take an extended vacation for a few months before starting the crazy cycle all over again.

They love the life!

Buy lots of stuff from him, please!

nukesafe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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I just looked at my trip notes and see that next time I would take a foldable shopping cart with wheels--those wooden things get heavy fast. Not to mention the Christmas breads.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 07:39 PM
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We drove to several markets on one trip and when I lived in Germany in the 70s, I went to Nurnberg every year. It's the classic. But Munich and Salzburg are also very good. Regensburg isn't worth stopping at.

Even out of season or after the markets are over, you can find a lot of the wonderful ornaments in local stores, especially those close to the market area, like in Nurnberg.

Definitely try the glüwein ... it's wonderful, especially if it is cold out!

And if you're a camera bug, take lots of close ups of the displays ... I have some wonderful pix of nutcrackers, puppets and other wonderfully whimsy things at the markets. The same for summer markets ... they're SO colorful! Zoom in on the unique and colorful ornaments, fruits and veggies.

Lose yourself in the atmosphere of it all! Enjoy!
fnyjnk is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 10:22 AM
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I just saw a travel show on Christmas markets and I'm hooked! I've never been to one and Germany is next on my list of places to go. I'd love to go to the Nurnburg market in December. My question is: how much time should I alott for that market? One day? Two days? And how bad is the weather? Would it be too cold to try and travel around Germany at that time of year? I'm heading to Ireland in a couple weeks, so I haven't even had a chance to look into this much yet but I saw the post and thought I'd throw in my questions. I will definitely start looking into this more once I get back!
chemgirl is offline  

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