I find the Christmas time to be the most magical time of the year. No matter how old I get, I am always in awe as the Christmas countdown begins and the magic of Christmas fills the air. And if you are in Germany ahead of Christmas, you are likely to be left enchanted by the festive atmosphere. A big part of tradition of Christmas in Germany are the German Christmas markets, held in various towns and cities across the country.
Among the best known markets in Germany, Nürnberg’s Christmas market is well-known and famous for its historic traditional set-up. This popular Bavarian Christmas market is definitely worth to be on your bucket list, known for its delicious food stalls, Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and all things Christmassy!
Nuremberg's Christmas Market is one of Germany's oldest Christmas fairs, with records of pre-Christmas event on Nuremberg's Main Market Square dating back to mid 16th century. Each year, on the Friday before the First Advent, the city of Nürnberg transforms itself into a Christmas wonderland, inviting tourists from all over the world to experience its traditional market. Living near Nürnberg means, a visit to the Christmas market is usually a highly-anticipated time of the year!
So come along, as I take you through a tour of the famous Nürnberg Christmas market!
As you approach the town square, you realize the enormity of the market - it occupies the entire town square and its huge! Even then, on a busy weekend, like above, you will find tourists crammed into every inch of space on the street and you will just have to be patient to move further with the crowd! On either side of the street, you will find as many as 200 stalls lined up, some even dating back to the later 1800s.
At the entrance to the square, a golden angel hangs above. It is one of the symbols of Nürnberg's Christkind. The Christkind is an age-old tradition of Nürnberg and is known as the bearer of gifts.
At the market, head to the Schöner Brunnen or the Beautiful Fountain. St into the railings around the octagonal pool is a golden ring, which according to the urban legend, grants you wishes if you rub the golden ring thrice. Don't be surprised if you have to wait your turn, considering the long queue of people waiting to get turn their wishes into reality!
The Nürnberg Christmas market is known for its many stalls, offering Christmas decoration items that are handcrafted by artisans. You can find some original and unique holiday presents for your family. It is quite a delight to walk through rows of stalls and pause in between to admire the Christmas trinkets, as a choir behind plays out Christmas carols.
One of the biggest draw at the Nürnberg Christmas Market are the stalls with "Zwetschgenmännle" or Prune Men. I couldn't manage a good picture, but it is worth checking out - the story behind the Prune Men, which has been selling at the Christmas Market for decades, is that it was supposedly invented by a wire drawer in the 18th Century. He wanted a perfect gift for his children, but had only wire and the plums that grew in front of his house. He used the dried plum or prunes to create unique figurines. And thus was born the Prune Men! A word though - don't eat the prunes!
No market or festival is complete without some finger-licking good food and delicious drinks. The Nürnberg Christmas market is no different! As the sun sets down, and the evening turns chilly, head to the Glühwein stalls to warm yourself!
Gühwein or mulled wine is intrinsic to the Christmas markets. When the weather gets chilly enough to make your bones cold, you know a hot mulled wine is what you need to warm you! At the Nürnberg Christmas market, you will find the red mulled wine being served in a souvenir cup, that is especially designed each year. But remember to take it slow, as a hot wine with all the sugar will hit you faster than a regular glass! And the fun of Christmas market isn't over yet! For those who don't take alcohol, there is a non-alcoholic version called the "Kinderpunsch", usually made from apple or grape juice.
The aromas of spiced mulled wine aren't the only thing filling the air. At the Christmas market, your taste buds will be tickled with the smell of grilled sausages. The Nürnberger Bratwurst is specially known to this region and you will find it is the most popular snack at the Christmas market. Typically, three finger-sized sausages are stacked in a hard German bread roll and served with dollops of mustard sauce. Even my non-pork eating tongue drools everytime it senses the aromas of the grill!
Keep some place in your stomach reserved for sweet endings - a generous helping of a warm waffle or a crepe!
If you are traveling with kids, then Nürnberg Christmas Market has a wonderful smaller market called the "Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt" especially for the little guests.
Inside the children's market, you are greeted with a beautiful, almost dreamy setting, and you will find your inner child beaming with excitement!
German Christmas markets have something for every one, and it's a perfect setting to get yourself in the holiday mood. So wrap yourself, and soak in all the festive spirits - because this is what Christmas dreams are made of!
Have you visited a Christmas market in Germany? Does your town have special markets that you want to share with the world? Have you been to a unique bazaar or a festive market, that is intrinsic to your town? I would love to hear your experiences!