The scent of mulled wine and roasted almonds, colourful ornaments and wooden huts filled with handmade gifts and souvenirs: German Christmas markets are known around the globe for their festive atmosphere. For an even more magical experience, the following eight German Christmas markets welcome visitors in unusual locations – from islands to old wine cellars to castles and more.
With its picturesque location in the Ravenna Gorge, this Christmas market in the Black Forest, approximately one hour from the university town of Freiburg, offers a truly romantic atmosphere. Surrounded by the gorge’s steep cliffs, under a 130-foot-high railway viaduct, a small village of little wooden huts can be found here during the four weekends before Christmas.
Underground Christmas magic can be enjoyed at this market, which takes place in a former wine cellar, parts of which date back to the 16th century, in the town of Traben-Trarbach on the Mosel River. In the atmospherically lit historical wine cellars, visitors can buy regional handicrafts and, of course, sample wine. An added bonus: the vaults offer pleasant temperatures, even when it’s bitterly cold outside.
This island Christmas market in Germany is situated in a truly unique and romantic setting – in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, surrounded by the crystal clear waters of Lake Chiemsee. On two holiday weekends, ferries shuttle visitors to the Fraueninsel market on Bavaria’s biggest lake, the Chiemsee. More than 90 stalls sell Bavarian souvenirs and handicrafts from the island’s abbey, such as nativity scenes and Christmas decorations.
According to the market’s motto ‘Königsstein – a winter wonderland,’ the annual Christmas market at fortress Königsstein in Saxony impresses with lots sparkling lights as well as many attractions for children, such as a fairy-tale grotto. The medieval Christmas market inside one of Europe’s biggest fortress will show jesters, toy makers and craftsmen, and also demonstrations of ancient craftsmanship. An insiders’ tip is the underground Kasematte-Weihnacht – a little Christmas market within the protected arches of the fortification.
A jewel of the North is the Emden Engelke-Markt, which attracts visitors annually with its maritime atmosphere. Festively illuminated museum ships and traditional sailing boats welcome you onboard. Father Christmas appears on the stage of the city garden at 5pm daily to give out presents to the children while the arrival, by ship, of the Dutch Sinterklaas is another exciting and long-awaited moment.
The North-Western city of Bochum plays host to not just one but two Christmas markets. Besides a traditional market, a medieval market takes place around the Paulus church. Craftsmen dressed in period costumes, traders, minstrels and buffoons go about their colorful business and invite visitors to experience the medieval world including open fire, old-fashioned stalls and music just like in past times. What makes the Christmas market experience so special in Bochum is the high wire show of the famous artist Falko Traber, who flies twice a day, disguised as Santa Claus, in his sled over the heads of the visitors telling them a different Christmas story each time.