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I have a very strange infatuation with German Christmas markets. It is strange, I know – since I am not in fact 8 nor am I particularly merry. However, maybe the problem isn’t with me. Maybe it is with you. I think it could be that most people just don’t fully get the German Christmas market. Sure, they know of course of the gluhwein (hot wine with citrus, cinnamon etc), which I have not been shy about showing my unadulterated love for, and possibly their mind also conjures up some images of the deep fried, highly caloric delicacies dripping with grease and love that can be found there. But there is more to the these winter Christmas markets than merely seasonal alcoholic delight and artery clogging goodness – there is an essence in the air that somehow makes you want to repeatedly throw yourself into the freezing cold, huddled up under a hut mingling with some fat guy who smells of whisky, bratwurst and cheap cigarettes (be good, he may moonlight as Santa on occasion). No there is more to these markets than meets the eye.
And since I can’t really explain this essence in words as such, I thought I would use the power of the internet to bring it as close to your door as possible, unless you want to use a German Rail Pass like I am and let the train deliver you directly to the market (gluhwein in hand in t-minus 5 minutes). You can also download DBahn’s Christmas iPhone app which breaks each market and tells you the highlights much better than this hungover ramble.
Berlin Christmas Market
Being the capital of Germany, Berlin has a series of pretty epic markets. From ice skating rinks to ferris wheels to an artificial ski slope you can toboggan down, the Germans pulled out all the stops here. So before a night of raving or doing something else Berlin and hipstery, you can feel the spirit of Christmas.
And a couple videos showing some music there and games you can play while drinking gluhwein.
Leipzig is one of the more famous markets, as it is the oldest, has a medieval market, and has the biggest Advent calendar in the world on the side of a building. I also felt like there was more “hip” bar gluhwein stands here for some reason.
Dresden has one of the largest markets, deemed the Christmas mile, since the squares are massive and you can walk forever with no end in sight. If you haven’t been to Dresden, I recommend it, since the old town was rebuilt to look like it was before the World War II, yet the main squares are massive (I suspect from the Soviet planning influence since Dresden lies on the Eastern side of Germany).
Beautiful soviet-esc arrival terminal at the train station, but once you hit the market, the worries go away as you re-united with old Germany and Christmas market bliss. Ten minute walk and you will feel transport through time.
Ah good old Hannover. With markets that stretch every windy street filled with food stalls that tempt you to stretch your belly with these deep fried, guilt-free treats. Hannover has got you covered. From fresh smoked salmon in the Finnish Market to other medieval food that is made edible by today’s standards, I love my little heart in this market (but not my cholesterol levels).
Still not satsfied? Still craving more Christmas food, gluhwein and calories. Me too. On the way…