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Christmas at Tivoli 2019: It's time to get festive

Blog 10 amazing Christmas markets in Germany
Date: 21 November 2019

10 amazing Christmas markets in Germany

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There’s nothing quite like a Christmas market to get you into the festive spirit – and Germany has some of the best in the world.

Mulled wine, twinkling lights, carol singers… You have to be a real Grinch not to enjoy a stroll around one of these winter wonderlands. From late November until around Christmas Eve each year, towns and cities all over Germany celebrate the festive season in style.  

From authentic to modern, spectacular to quirky, here we give you some of the best Christmas markets in Germany to enjoy this winter.

Tip: To reach some of the more unique markets, you’ll need to drive. But the good news is you can hire a car with Avis and even do a Christmas market tour! Plus, you’ll earn CashPoints towards your next trip with Norwegian.

1. Kinderweihnactht, Nuremberg

Children on a festive train at Nuremberg Christmas market
The little ones can truly experience the magic of Christmas at Nuremberg’s Kinderweihnactht

29 November – 24 December 2019

Got kids in tow? Kinderweihnactht is just the ticket. Part of Nuremburg’s fabulous Christkindlesmarkt one of the best German Christmas markets there are fairground rides, a playhouse full of toys, and activity booths where the little ones can make gingerbread men, candles and loads more.

However, the highlight of the children’s market is the lantern procession. Each year, over a thousand children make lanterns and parade them through the town centre to Nuremburg Castle. It’s a magical sight.

For the grownups, Christkindlesmarkt is the perfect place to find stocking-fillers, from cuddly toys and clothes to ceramics and jewellery.

While you’re there, be sure to try some Nuremberg specialities: Nürnberger Bratwurst (small, thin pork sausages, seasoned with fresh marjoram), and a mug of steaming Feuerzangenbowle, a flaming punch made with red wine, rum and caramelised sugar. It’s got quite a kick to it!

Fly to Munich and drive for around 2 hours.

2. WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Entrance to Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market
Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt is one of the better known Christmas markets in the German capital

25 November – 31 December 2019

The German capital is home to more than 60 Christmas markets, but if you only have time to visit one, make it the Gendarmenmarkt. With a backdrop of the Deutsche Dom, Konzerthaus and the Französischer Dom, you can tick three landmarks off your list as you do your Christmas shopping.  

If you’re looking for unique gifts, this market is ideal. People come from all over the country to sell their handmade products. Think origami, ivory and unusual pieces of art.

When you’re done browsing, grab a cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) or white chocolate milk and check out the fantastic entertainment, from the typical carol choirs to the far-less-typical acrobats, jugglers and fire-eaters.

Tip: If you’re in the city for a few days, check out these 10 top things to do in Berlin for sightseeing inspiration.

Fly to Berlin

3. Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt, Traben-Trarbach

People skating on the outdoor ice-skating rink at the Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt.
Romantic for the adults, fun for the kids: the Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt has a bit of everything. Photo: © Blickfang Werbung – www.traben-trarbach.de

22 November 2019 – 1 January 2020

The underground Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt takes the prize for the most romantic German Christmas market on our list.

Located in the beautiful wine cellars of Traben-Trarbach, the vaulted space is decked out with fairy lights, festive decorations and stalls selling crafts, edible treats and plenty of top-quality German plonk. And yes, you can try before you buy!

Best of all, as you’re inside, you won’t have to worry about getting too cold or needing a brolly.

Tip: If the kids get bored, but you’re not done wine tasting, there’s an ice rink and a model train exhibition above ground to keep them busy.

Fly to Düsseldorf and drive for around 2 hours 45 minutes.

4. Striezelmarkt, Dresden

The lit-up stalls and decorations of the Dresden Striezelmarkt as seen from above
The beautiful Dresden Christmas market lights up the city’s main square over the festive period. Photo: LH-DD/Dittrich – Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

27 November – 24 December 2019

Are you a fan of Stollen? Enjoy a slice (or three) of this delicious Christmas fruit bread at the place where it was first sold: Dresden Christmas market (Striezelmarkt). In celebration of the traditional treat, a giant Stollen is wheeled through town, cut up and sold at the market.

Another Dresden delicacy to look out for is Pflaumentoffel – little chimney sweep figurines made of dried prunes. Dressed in black with a top hat and brush, they’re traditionally used as decorations over the Christmas period, but eaten soon after!

However, Striezelmarkt isn’t all about food. You can also head to the craft market where you’ll catch woodcarvers in action making traditional ornaments such as Räuchermännchen or ‘smoking men’ (small wooden figurines with a pipe and a round, open mouth that emits incense). 

Fly to Prague and drive for about 1 hour 45 minutes.

5. Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt, Cologne

Stalls, people and ship at the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market at night with the cathedral in the background
Cologne’s Harbour Christmas Market puts a nautical spin on the traditional German Weihnachtsmarkt. © www.hafen-weihnachtsmarkt.de

22 November – 23 December 2019

Fancy getting something a bit different out of your German Christmas market experience? Head to Cologne’s Harbour Christmas Market (Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt). It takes place in the grounds of the Chocolate Museum, on the banks of the Rhine, and offers a unique market experience.

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine from the hull of a replica pirate ship, sing along to traditional German sea shanties, and indulge in fresh fish dishes at this nautical take on a Christmas market.

You’ll find all sorts of unique hand-crafted gifts in the 70 sail-like white pagoda tents.

Be sure to look out for the ‘Rhine pirates’. The kids will love watching them juggle and hearing about their adventures at sea.  

The lit-up stalls and Christmas tree of the Cologne Harbour market
Check out Cologne’s most famous festive fair: the Cathedral Christmas market

Whilst in Cologne, you could also visit the biggest Christmas market in the city, the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market. Here you’ll find wooden stalls draped in lights around a huge Christmas tree. There’s plenty to eat and drink, musical performances, and even a traditional carousel for the kids.

Be sure to visit the beautiful UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral, too. It’s said to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men from the nativity story, so it’s a fitting place to visit at Christmas! Learn more about it in our 9 must-see cathedrals, churches and basilicas in Europe post.

Pressed for time? Discover some of the key sights of Cologne a guided city tour. You’ll see the Roman ruins, the town hall and the world-famous cathedral, among other top sights.

Fly to Düsseldorf and drive for around an hour.

6. Veganer Weihnachtsmarkt, Leipzig

Waffles cooking in a waffle press
The meat and dairy-free day of the Leipzig Christmas market features delicious vegan waffles amongst a range of other tasty treats

14 December 2019 (vegan) & 26 November – 23 December 2019 (original)

Sizzling sausages and vats of gooey cheese fondue may be traditional at Christmas markets in Germany, but fear not vegans, everything that passes your lips (and hands) at Leipzig’s vegan Christmas market will be plant-based.

For one day only (14 December), you can munch on a range of vegan waffles, cupcakes and burgers. Once you’re full, browse the stalls of vegan shoes, crafts and accessories.

Tip: Keep an eye out for Vegablum. A great vegan alternative to honey, it’s made of raw cane sugar, daisy extract and lemon juice. It’s the bee’s knees.

The main Leipzig Christmas market runs from 26 November to 23 December 2019. As well as 300 glittering stalls packed into the city’s market square, there’s a fairy tale wood and an elves’ workshop to keep the kids happy.

Fly to Berlin and drive for around 2.5 hours.

7. Christmas and winter market at Munich International Airport

Christmas and winter market decorations and ice-skating rink at Munich airport
Squeeze in some last-minute festive fun at Munich airport’s Christmas market. Photo: Ashwin Chandrasekaran – Flickr / CC BY 2.0

15 November – 29 December 2019

Can’t get enough of Germany’s Christmas markets? Make sure to grab a pit-stop on your way home at the Munich airport winter market.

Every November, Munich’s International Airport transforms into a magical winter wonderland, complete with a real pine forest and 15-metre-high Christmas tree.

Enjoy live music while you grab some last-minute gifts at the stands and enjoy one last mug of Glühwein. There’s a free ice-skating rink, too, if the mood takes you.

If your flight’s delayed, there’re loads of activities to keep the little ones entertained, from magic shows, to gingerbread decorating. If they’re good, Santa might even make an appearance.

Fly to (and from) Munich

8. Winter Pride, Hamburg

Crowd talking as a DJ plays in the background under a pride flag
Dance the night away at Hamburg’s Winter Pride event. Photo: © WinterPride.de

25 November – 30 December 2019 (excluding 24 26 December)

Each year, Hamburg hosts a range of some of Germany’s most unique Christmas markets, like a market for dogs and the world’s first erotic Christmas market, to name a couple.

Hamburg is also home to Winter Pride. Organised by the local LGBTQ community, it takes place in Hamburg’s St. Georg neighbourhood.

There are a dozen stalls selling hot punch, mulled wine and sweet and salty Christmas treats. But the main reason to visit is the entertainment. There’s a packed programme of events and games, and rather than Christmas carols, DJs play indie and electro sets at the weekends. The profits from the market are donated to LGBTQ charities.

Fly to Hamburg

9. Schwimmende Christkindlmarkt, Vilshofen an der Donau

A river cruise boat decorated with a wooden nativity scene with people on board and outside
All aboard for some nautical festivities at the Vilshofen floating Christmas market. Photo: Ashwin Chandrasekaran – Flickr / CC BY 2.0

29 November 1 December / 6 – 8 December / 13 – 15 December

Every Christmas, Vilshofen, a sleepy town in the east of Bavaria, is home to a unique Christmas market: a floating one.

The promenade on the Danube is lit up with stalls, selling handmade goodies from Bavaria, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. But the main attraction is the Wurm & Köck river cruiser, which houses the largest wooden nativity scene in the world think twenty metres!

As well as the stalls, there’s a nativity play, and a comprehensive programme of classical, folk and jazz music for the duration of this fantastic German Christmas market.

Fly to Salzburg and drive for around 2 hours.

10. Gengenbacher Adventsmarkt, Gengenbach

Windows of a building in Gengenbacher decorated with different  scenes
Catch the 6pm opening of a festive window in Gengenbacher’s giant Advent calendar. Photo: RudolfSimon – Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

28 November 23 December 2019

This one requires some driving, but it’s a really special sight if you find yourself on the edge of the Black Forest in December.

Each year, the gorgeous town hall of Gengenbach is transformed into the world’s largest Advent Calendar. Each evening at 6pm, one of 24 windows is opened to reveal a festive scene. Some are designed by local artists, others by famous artists, such as Andy Warhol.

If you’re in town during the run-up to Christmas, don’t miss this magical ritual. And while you’re waiting for the unveiling, browse the stalls of the Advent market for stocking fillers.

Fly to Munich and drive for around 4 hours.

Get into the festive spirit with Norwegian

Couple standing close to one another and looking at a stall at a Christmas market
Book your German Christmas market experience with Norwegian and earn CashPoints

Whether you’re looking for a traditional market experience, a vegan knees-up, or something a little more unique, Germany’s got it all. Get ready for Christmas and book your flights with Norwegian to and earn some festive CashPoints towards your next trip!

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Christmas at Tivoli 2019: It's time to get festive