Adi shares her top 3 German Christmas Markets not to miss plus a bonus market in France and where to buy your Christmas tree in Stuttgart.
There is no doubt I love Christmas more than any other holiday. Living in Germany means the Christmas season is filled with gorgeous Christmas markets, twinkling lights, mulled wine and sweet treats in many German cities, large and small.
If last year our primary goal was the larger Christmas Markets in Europe, this year we concentrated on the quaint smaller towns, making the Christmas market season that much more attractive.
1. Tübingen Weihnachtsmarkt
If you are looking for one of the best Christmas Markets in Germany, Tübingen Weihnachtsmarkt is the right place for you. Always on the third weekend of Advent, the university town of Tübingen hosts a colourful, and distinctive Christmas market. Over three days, hundreds of decorated Christmas stalls merge with the half-timbered scenery of the historical old town.
Weihnachtsmarkt Tübingen is open on Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm.
Here, visitors discover attractions such as the colourful historical children’s carousel, a children’s program, as well as numerous musicians and choirs. You’ll smell the aromas of mulled wine, children’s punch, spices, and roasted almonds as well as the smell of roasted meats. Need a special homemade, authentic, German present? More than likely you will find it here. Almost nothing is made in China here.
Because it only takes place during a single weekend expect it to be crowded. However, the market is spread over the entire old town centre (from the lower town, over the Krumme Brücke and Kornhausstraße to the Marktplatz, over the Holzmarkt to the Neckargasse, Neue Straße and round by the Nonnenhaus) so the flow of people moves rather smoothly.
Tübingen Christmas Market Tips
- Carry cash as none of the booths accept
- If you have small children, consider baby-wearing or big strollers. Little umbrella strollers won’t cut it in the crowd, and the kids will be engulfed by the people around them.
2. Rothenburg (ob der Tauber) Reiterlesmarkt
Because this past summer we visited Rothenburg, Germany I was dead set on visiting again in winter, to experience its famous Christmas market, Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt, and get the best out of a German Christmas tradition.
Held between Nov 25th and Dec 23rd (in 2017 it will start on Dec 1st), a visit is a must during the Advent period. Every year, the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is transformed into a winter’s fairy tale. Since the 15th-century, Advent festivities have been paired with a fantastic Christmas market. This market can look back on over 500 years of living history that has hardly changed since its origins.
During the day, it can feel a little overwhelming with people. However, since many of them arrive with tour buses which later leave, wait for the evening to be left in the company of locals. The market is small, contained in front of the city hall, but the whole centre sparkles with lights.
Some of the best shopping for authentic, wooden, handmade treasures are found at this market and the surrounding stores. The storefronts are decked with lights and evergreen ornaments making everything seem like you’re living in a winter wonderland. The only way this setting would be any better is if it were snowing.
To keep body and soul together, treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine and satisfy your hunger with a grilled sausage, or freshly roasted chestnuts and finish with a famous Rothenburg Snowball.
3. Weihnachtsmarkt Schwäbisch Hall
My favourite of all the Christmas markets in Germany this year has been Schwäbisch Hall Weihnachtsmarkt, in a small university town in the north part of the Baden-Württemberg.
The market runs November 24th until December 21st and is held in the market square, in front of the impressive St. Michael’s Church.
The little Christmas chalets in Schwäbich Hall hide some of the best merchandise I’ve seen at Christmas markets in Europe. Everything on sale is made by hand here by candle makers, woodcarvers, sculptors. You’ll also find metalwork, enamels, ceramics, calligraphy tools, wooden toys and knits.
Another plus at this German market was the ease with which we were able to move around. It was busy but not overwhelming. There are no lines at the food and drinks booths and plenty of tables to enjoy the food.
Schwäbisch Hall Christmas Market Tips
- Carry cash as stated before. None of the booths accept There are several banks right next to the market if you need to top up your wallets.
- You must try the Schwäbisch Hall pork sandwiches – some of the best pork meat in Germany – as well as visit the smoked salmon booth for some delicious baked potatoes with salmon. Yum!
Bonus: Colmar Christmas Market, France
Because its old town has narrow cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings, you can imagine why I wanted to explore the Christmas market, Marché de Noel Colmar. The atmosphere and the short drive from Stuttgart, make Colmar a beautiful and easy choice. The Christmas market in Colmar opens Nov 24th and lasts until Dec 30th.
A succession of bright decorations leads tourists to discover the five traditional Christmas markets in the heart of the historic centre of old Colmar. They are interconnected by lights subtly drawn in the alleys of the city. 1150 computer-driven light sources, using a fibre optic cable network, are skillfully distributed throughout the town and put on an original light show, which varies in intensity and colour. Colmar was the first town in France to undertake an operation of such magnitude.
Intimate and friendly, the five Christmas markets of Colmar house 170 exhibitors during the six weeks of market time. Chalets are harmoniously arranged to allow the tourists to visit the markets and enjoy the striking historical centre. Out of the five markets my favourite were the market of local products, the market dedicated to arts and crafts and antiques, and the market of Petite Venice, dedicated to children. Our kids loved the last one the most for the obvious reasons.
This magical setting and warm atmosphere give Colmar an unrivalled feeling of wellbeing making it one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.
Colmar Marché de Noel Tips
- The market is very busy, consider baby wearing if travelling with small children.
- Carry cash.
- Try the Flammkuchen in baguette form. I was fighting with my kids for bites of these delicious and extra cheesy meals.
Bonus: Where to get a beautiful Christmas in the Stuttgart area
I cannot write about Christmas markets and not give you a hot tip about where to get a gorgeous Christmas tree if you live in the Stuttgart area.
Mittelmühle in Adelberg is a 500-year-old former mill run by Harald and Sabine Müller, who devote their time to raising the best Nordic trees. We have been going to their farm every winter in the past several years and got to know Harald, who speaks perfect English. Listening to him talk about the Christmas tree farm I realised how much he loves what he does.
While Harald’s time is filled with the science of growing the trees, his wife, Sabine, who is a certified interior designer makes sure the interior of the Christmas exhibit is perfect. She chooses every piece with care, making the Christmas display beautiful and sophisticated.
Besides the two of them and a few more staff members, they also have the help of a flock of trusted English sheep bred to remove the grass between the trees without eating the trees themselves. Harald skipped no detail in making his business a successful one. This is why people come from near and far to get one of his beautiful trees.
Another thing I love about this farm is everything is done to respect the environment. Once a tree is cut, another replaces it immediately.
Mittelmühle doesn’t just sell trees. It also hosts an Advent celebration with workshops teaching visitors to make their own Advent wreaths as well as traditional candle making. The entire time you are visiting, a mulled wine station warms your hands and soul with delicious and hot mulled wine, for a small donation. The GPS address for the tree farm is Mittelmühle 1, 73099 Adelberg.
There are so many reasons why I love Christmas in Germany. Part of it is due to spending time with my family at the different European Christmas markets, enjoying the beautiful settings of medieval towns covered in lights, the good food and mulled wine – it all makes my mind, body, and soul happy.
Visit as many of the German Christmas Markets as you can as you can never say ‘if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all’. Each market is unique in its own way.
Cheeseweb would like to thank Mittelmühle for hosting Adi and her family. As always, all opinions remain those of our writers’ alone.