Top 5 German Village Christmas Markets
Sure, there are the well-known Christmas markets of Berlin and Munich. But if you really want to experience the holidays the old-fashioned German way, you need to head to one of these lesser-known village markets.
Germany’s legendary Christmas markets sparkle with holiday spirit and the scent of cinnamon-laced gluhwein ( hot mulled wine) and lebkuchen (gingerbread treats). Crowds flock to well-known markets in major cities such as Berlin, Munich and Dresden, but the real flavour of traditional German Christmas markets is captured in the smaller villages and towns. If you’re interested in low-key charm and cultural insight, here are suggestions for the top five German village Christmas markets:
1. Goslar Christmas Market
Perched on the northeast edge of the Harz mountains, with elaborately carved houses and a striking, medieval market square, Goslar offers a singular Christmas experience. A UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to 1039, this former imperial town is steeped in history and fairytale charm. The market features about 70 intricately decorated stalls arranged in a star shape. Musicians roam, playing traditional German Christmas hymns, but the real draw is the Christmas forest, which creates a glistening spectacle with illuminated fir trees and thousands of holiday lights. Top off the festivities with a ride on an old-world steam train that glides through the Harz snow-covered mountains.
2. Ludwigsburg Christmas Market
A noted baroque town with the grandest baroque palace in Germany, as well as two stunning baroque churches, Ludwisburg also hosts a Christmas market that is considered one of the most beautiful for good reason. The market entrance forms arches of tiny lights and the Christmas booths are presided over by life-sized angels spreading glittery wings. Even the churches are festooned with lights, creating a warm glow over the entire event.
3. Wernigerode Christmas Market
Graced with a 12th century castle and a 33 foot- tall Christmas tree as the market centrepiece, Wernigerode supplies a picturesque Christmas scene. The gothic, red town hall was built in the 15th century and is surrounded by an array of half-timbered houses. Stalls selling roasted almonds and local crafts are hallmarks of the Christmas market. Another attraction is a visit to the castle, which now operates as a museum with its own winter market in the inner courtyard, and daily visits from a fairy and Nikolaus (St. Nick).
4. Muenster Christmas Markets
Near the German Rhineland region, this small, historic city and its markets are a must-see for many reasons. Muenster is where the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, ending the Thirty Years War in 1648. Befitting this special status, Muenster doesn’t have just one Christmas market—it has five, all within blocks of each other. There are 250 stalls in all, enticing visitors with jewelry and culinary gifts in the town hall, nativity scenes in Aegidii Market and shining lights at the Lamberti light market.
5. Oldenburg Christmas Market
This quaint university town serves up a romantic Christmas market setting in front of the glowing yellow Oldenburg Castle, built in the 16th century. The castle’s now a museum displaying lower Saxony folk culture that’s prevalent in the wooden huts of the market. Munch some buttery stolen and sip on a cup of fuerzongenbowle (flaming red wine) and join the locals for traditional German holiday fun.