Christmas markets in Germany are a magical tradition that stretch back hundreds of years. Mouthwatering aromas of glühwein, grilled sausages and hot chestnuts add to an ambience created by some of Europe’s most iconic architecture. Whether it is the Baroque and Gothic architecture of the south or the Medieval Hansestädte of the north, each town lends its own character to this intangible national heritage. For those who are looking for an escape from the commercialism of the festive season, try something different and explore fascinating histories while experiencing a unique Christmas tradition.
Most Christmas markets start in the last week of November and run until Christmas Eve, or a day or two before. In 2018 most of the Christmas markets open on 26 or 27 November.
Many of the more major markets have their own mugs for Glühwein and other hot beverages such as hot chocolate. You will pay a small fee when you get your drink. This you will get back or keep the mug for a festive souvenir of your visit.
Founded in the 12th century, Lübeck was the capital of the Hanseatic League. And despite some damage during World War Two, the Old Town has retained much of its Medieval character. With over one thousand buildings, courtyards and alleys from the Middle Ages, Lübeck is understandably a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is the Medieval Old Town that provides the perfect setting for the Lübeker Christmas market. Here local artisans have been selling their decorations and confectioneries since 1648. Do not pass up the chance to try some Lübeck Marzipan, a local speciality with EU Protected Geographical Indication status. Since 2015, Lübeck has been home to the extraordinary European Hansamuseum, where state-of-the-art technology tells the story of the rise and fall of the Hanseatic League.
In a town where history goes back to at least the 11th century, streets lined with wonderfully preserved and beautifully decorated Medieval timber-framed buildings are the perfect setting for the Schwerin Christmas market. Walk along Mecklenburgstraße to the marketplace to see the eight metre high Weihnachtspyramide and an even taller fir tree that boasts 10,000 lights. These are dwarfed by the 117.5 metre high tower of the Backsteingotik cathedral typical of northern Germany. Among the local crafts and specialities, Glögg (a mulled wine) is a reminder of the town’s historic Swedish influence. On an island towards the edge of Lake Schwerin is the magnificent Schweriner Schloss, a palace to the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg since the 12th century. At only an hour by train, Schwerin is an easy day-trip from Hamburg.