Chriskindlesmarkt: Germany's Christmas Market

In Germany there are plenty of Christmas markets springing up throughout December, but here's where you should go to get amongst the best Christmas stalls!

Photo © iStock/Juergen Sack

Location

Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

Dates

Friday before Advent Sunday to 24 December

Description

In Germany, ’tis the season to be shopping. Across the country, Christmas markets spring up throughout the month leading up to the big day. Most famous among them is the Nuremberg market, filling the city’s main square with almost 200 stalls and drawing in around two million people.

The market opens with a ‘Christmas angel’, dressed in a golden gown and with hair like a barrister’s wig, reading a five-verse prologue. The reading concludes with the words, ‘do rejoice when Christ child now invites you all to see this market. Whoever comes to visit shall be welcome.’ And why wouldn’t you be welcome when it’s all in the traditional Christmas spirit of making a euro.

Other than Christmas treats, one thing Nuremberg’s market does have is great history. It’s thought that the first Christmas markets were held in Hauptmarkt in the 16th century, and there’s documentary evidence of their existence dating back to the 1620s. After a decline in their popularity in the late 19th century, they were revived by the Nuremberg-loving Nazis in the 1930s.

Known as the ‘Little Town from Wood and Cloth’, the market is a one-stop shop for Christmas goodies. If you want Christmas tree ornaments, cribs, candles, toys, gingerbread, fruit cakes or just that elusive bit of Christmas bratwurst you’ll find it here. For a little something that can only have come from the Chriskindlesmarkt, consider picking up a few Nürnberger Zwetschenmännle, or Nuremberg Prune Men, small figurines made from dried fruit (just the thing if Christmas lunch leaves you a little plugged up) – you’ll find them at around 10 stalls.

To keep the kids extra happy, there’s the Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Christmas Market, in adjoining Hans Sachs Platz, where the littlies can spin on merry-go-rounds and chug along on steam trains. The Christmas Angel (who remains the figurehead for the market throughout the month) also turns up twice a week here to read stories to the kids.

If you can’t make it Nuremberg but still want to catch a Christmas market, don’t despair. More than 50 German cities host such markets, as does Chicago, where a German village is re-created and Nuremberg’s own reigning Christmas Angel presides over events.

Level of Participation

5 – did somebody say shopping?

Essentials

There’s a reason Santa wears so much clothing…it’s winter, so rug up. The Chriskindlesmarkt is open from around 9.30am to 8pm most days (to 10pm Friday and Saturday).

Other Local Attractions

Tortured by your Christmas purchases? Then check out the gory Lochgefängnisse (Medieval Dungeons) beneath the Altes Rathaus, though you might want to do so before you eat. For more horrors visit the Reichsparteitagsgelände (Nazi Party Rally Grounds). Much of the outsized grounds were destroyed during Allied bombing raids, but enough is left to get a sense of the megalomania behind it.

More InfoNurnberger Christkindlesmarkt website

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