Explore the more than 150 German Christmas markets – starting end November
No other country perfects the tradition of Christmas markets as well as Germany, and all larger German cities boast markets that run from the middle of November until Christmas. Maybe time to go exploring – but which one to choose?
By Bente D. Knudsen
You might find Christmas in Denmark a very special season, with all the lights, red hearts and fur and pine, which decorate the streets, and wonder; why bother going to Germany?
However, the Germans are really the masters of Christmas markets, also known as Christkindlmarkt (literally meaning Christ child market). In the German speaking parts of Europe, the tradition goes back several hundred years to the late middle ages and the trend has spread in recent years to include also Denmark.
Here the latest Christmas market addition on Kgs.Nytorv was only inaugurated three years ago in December 2015.
According to Germans, their Christmas markets are not only important for shopping, but also a social event.
Gathering with friends and family for drinks and food at one of the many booths and stalls is as important, if not more important, than shopping for Christmas.
Generally held in the town square and adjacent pedestrian zones, the market sells food, drink, and seasonal items from open-air stalls, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing.
Denmark has been late in adopting the Christmas market tradition, and despite appearances, they have only been around for the last 10 years, with one of the first ones being the Christmas market inside Tivoli.
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From more than 150 different German markets, it can be difficult to choose. It will also depend on how much travelling time you want to put in during this busy season.
For short trips, maybe the towns closer to Denmark could make a nice weekend outing. Flensburg, Lübeck, Kiel or Lunebrug in the Northern part of Germany are good starting points. You can find details of all the markets with opening hours and contact information here.
Christmas market in Flensburg
In the old town of Germany’s northernmost city, right on the border to Denmark and with Denmark visible on the other side of Flensburg Fjord, you will find a city clearly dominated by the Scandinavian flair of its neighbours.
The bright lights of Christmas invite you in to visit the stalls stretching from Südermarkt Square all along the pedestrian area as far as Nordermarkt.
Tempting treats from Germany, not least the world’s so called smallest bar serving a wide selection of the famous Tallinn punch. In the delightful old courtyards and at the Christmas market you will find something fun for all ages.
Christmas market dates: 27 November until 31 December (closed 24/25/26 December)
Venue: Weihnachtsmarkt in Flensburg, Altstadt, 24937 Flensburg.
More information: www.flensburger-foerde.de
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Christmas market in Kiel
With its location close to the Baltic Sea at the end of the Kieler Fjord, you will find here a wintry port city with a great maritime atmosphere.
The Christmas market in Holstenstrasse and on Alter Markt Square promise a yuletide trip to remember. You will find stalls selling crafts, and traditional booths serving hot punch and food.
If you feel like exercise afterwards why not go ice-skating at the huge covered rink (750m²) on the town hall square. Also, don’t forget to visit the awe inspiring Nord Ostsee Kanal as the Germans call it. The Kiel Canal is one of the world’s busiest artificial waterways. It runs for 100 km, linking the North Sea with the Baltic.
Christmas market dates: 27 November until 23 December
Venue: Weihnachtsmarkt in Kiel, Rathausplatz, 24103 Kiel.
Lübeck Christmas market
An all-time favourite, amongst Danes and Christmas market expat experts, is the Lübeck Christmas market. Actually, there are seven different market locations. The historical market next to the Marienkirche is an all-time favourite amongst children and the two crafts markets on Heiligen-Geist-Hospital and at St Pedri may help you with the unique Christmas present search.
Do not miss the Christmas concerts held in each of the town’s five churches – or go shopping in Huxstrasse amongst the more than 100 different shops.
The Lübeck Christmas Market with the thousands of fairy lights and the festive decorations in the streets and shop windows ensure a unique and impressive atmosphere, which delights visitors from near and far.
Christmas market dates: 27 November until 29 December.
Venue: Lübecker Innenstadt, Marktplatz, 23552 Lübeck.
More information: www.luebeck-weihnachtsmarkt.de
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Christmas market in Lüneburg
Not a large market – the smallest they claim in Germany- but still full of the charm of being a 1,000 year old salt town.
You will find market stalls in the Hanseatic city’s old alleyways, in St. Johannis Church and on the picturesque market square.
A whole range of specialities awaits you including the Advent wreath and the famous Lüneburg salt stone lamps. You can discover the history of salt in Lüneburg at the German Salt Museum, while at “SaLü” – Lüneburg’s hot salt springs – the effervescent saltwater provides you with fun and relaxation.
The saline was in operation right up until 1980. The western Old Town is situated in a low-lying area and on the way to the saline you will be confronted by curved buildings and crooked walls.
Being a university town has its advantages and the influence of the many university students is immediately visible in the many bars and restaurants in the picturesque old quarter around the former port next to the river Ilmenau.
Christmas market dates: 27 November until 22 December.
More information: www.weihnachtsstadt-lueneburg.de
Pictures: From Flensburg and Lüneburg Christmas markets /Flensburger Foerde/Lüneburg Marketing GmbH