A Visit to the Christmas Markets

I mentioned Christmas markets in some comments last week and several people asked me to share some photos. I do find it hard to take photos that capture the atmosphere, but here are a few snapshots.

All over Germany the Christmas markets open throughout Advent attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Some are spectacular, nestled into candlelit hillsides or in the parks of great houses and castles. Some are world-famous, like Nuremburg with the angel (Christkind) opening it in an age-old ceremony. Others are simpler, offering just the traditional well-known specialities and crafts. Whichever type you visit, you will be caught up by the magic of a Christmas tradition going back centuries. Surrounded by the soft babble and chatter of other visitors, the smell of fried food and cinnamon sweets, the glitter of decorations for sale, and the cheerful faces around you, it is hard not to smile or be a little frivolous, splashing out on an extravagant candle, a glass of punch, a bag of roasted almonds or a huge jam-filled steamed dumpling covered in vanilla sauce!

I visited two markets this year – first of all Ingolstadt, which is about an hour’s drive north of Munich.

With the New Castle in the background, a sprinkling of snow, and good company, the market has all you can wish for… the traditional wooden decorations and crib figures, food and drink, jewellery, warm socks, cookie cutters, candles, more food, more drink, more decorations ….!

This man has been selling his wares on this market here for at least the past 25 years.

A smaller area nearby offered a quieter repose for another glass of punch (non-alcoholic, I assure you!) and a chat with my friends. But it was very cold that day, with a north wind.

Some of the stall-holders looked frozen to the bone, despite being well wrapped up…

On another day last week I took myself off to Regensburg, a beautiful city on the Danube, and not far from the Bavarian Forest. I always walk over to the old stone bridge if I visit, and the River Danube looked particlularly cold (but blue!) on this occasion…

Despite some bright sunshine it was a chilly day again, but the markets are so enticing and I did all my Christmas shopping there. Take a stroll with me around the markets in Regensburg and see the traditional goods they offer. (Click on any image for a slideshow…)


The markets take on a different atmosphere at night, which I have never managed to capture in photos as there are always SO many people and it is hard to move! The thing I love about them most of all is the cheer and friendliness which is definitely lacking in the shopping centres and supermarkets at this time of year. And the food of course. This year I had my favourite warm snack – potato noodles with sauerkraut – as well as some roasted chestnuts, roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds and some delicious non-alcoholic fruit punch. It was nice to go into a cafe afterwards to warm up properly though! πŸ˜‰

What is your favourite tradition in the run-up to Christmas?



46 thoughts on “A Visit to the Christmas Markets

    • Hi John. I love that too – I have learnt so much since I started blogging, just by looking at other people’s blogs. Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

  1. This looks like so much fun, Cathy. I’m impressed with the quality of the stalls which are only temporary, presumably. Thanks for sharing your market visits with us!
    We have similar crafts fairs with locally made things, which I do go to and pick up a few gifts. Not as big as these markets though.

    • I think the town councils provide the stands for the Christmas markets, as they are put up a week or two in advance. There used to be a Christmas market in the grounds of a castle near us – so romantic when lit up at night! But it got so popular, with busloads coming from afar, that the local residents complained and they had to close it!

  2. Cathy thank you very much for visiting the Christmas markets. They are beautiful! I love German wooden lights, decorations for straw trees, medieval houses for Bethlehem and wooden portals of Bethlehem. The Danube River is beautiful and I am humming the Vals of Johann Strauss son “The Blue Danube” or as it is called in German “The Beautiful Blue Danube”. Before Christmas, I like to think about those who are no longer with us (even though they shed a lot of tears), think about what gifts I am going to make: but simple gifts, if they can be made by NGOs such as Intermon Oxfam, of solidarity markets. Or a flower center for my Mother, my sister a cactus. Things like that. Cathy you have a great time! Greetings from Margarita.

  3. Thanks so much for inviting us to your beautiful Christmas Markets, Cathy! I have such treasured memories of visits to the Christkindlmarkt in Karlsruhe with dear friends so long ago. I bought candles and candle holders at the market and they have had a special place on our Christmas tree every year since! Now we have two special German Christmas Markets here in Illinois throughout December! Artisans come from Germany to display their wares in each little house at the market. It feels very authentic and always brings back wonderful memories!

    One of my very favorite ways to welcome the holidays is decorating our tree with special ornaments collected throughout my life. Most are gifts from family and friends. Others have been collected in my travels. There are several German ornaments on our Christmas tree! Hope your Christmas is wrapped in love! πŸ’—

    • Thanks Dawn! I am glad I could remind you of that happy visit to Karlsruhe! There is something quite magical about the Christmas markets and it is so nice to hear you have them even in Illinois! Hope you have a lovely Christmas too! πŸ˜€

  4. Love the tour and thank you! Wonderful to see the German version of Christmas shopping, the array of choices would inspire anyone to buy gifts for everyone including yourself. Still contemplating noodles and sauerkraut. I would need some bratwurst, I think.

    • I have made them myself… a little bit like the Italian gnocchi made with potato flour or mashed potato. Fortunately I can buy them ready-made here! I have never had sauerkraut with mashed potatoes though! πŸ˜‰

  5. We have craft markets here too but the stalls are constructed of pvc pipe and canvas, lacking the old world charm of these. This is the only kind of shopping I enjoy for the holidays, having vowed never to darken the door of a big box store for that purpose. I hope this is just the first of many wonderful experiences for you this season.

    • Thank you Ricki! All the towns have similar stands which are put up by the local council each year and then rented out. I agree, it is so much more pleasant than shopping in big stores, and you get to snack while shopping too! πŸ˜‰ Have a lovely weekend!

  6. I’ve always thought it would be fun to experience the Christmas markets in Europe–I hope to do it one day. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I’ve heard the nighttime is a great time to tour the markets. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and descriptions.

    • They are certainly worth a visit Beth, especially if it is really cold weather as you feel more tempted to warm up with punch and hot food too! πŸ˜‰

  7. I have so wanted to visit the Christmas markets in Germany!!! When I was in Ireland during the month of November, I traveled up to Belfast and went through the Christmas markets there…during the day and at night. Really fun. The markets in Germany, I hear, are the best and I truly would love to check them out!

    • Hi there! Glad you could get a taste of Christmas markets in Ireland. The German ones are obviously world famous and I hope you can visit one some day! πŸ™‚

  8. What a fun way to warm up to the holiday season… figuratively of course, it sounds like the weather was anything but!
    Love those stalls and the coziness of it all. There’s a Christmas mart a few hours drive away from us but I’m afraid it wouldn’t even come close if we ever brave the drive.

    • Even the little towns nearer to us have a market for one or two weekends in advent, so we are lucky! I have been to some lovely ones over the years, but the simple and familiar ones are the nicest and, like you say, ‘cozy’! Have a good weekend Frank!

  9. Thank you for sharing these experiences with us, Cathy. The German market in Birmingham (about 20 miles from us) is very popular evry year, but we have never been

    • Hi Cathy. My Mum used to come over for Christmas sometimes and loved the markets here – she has also been to the Birmingham one and says it is nice but not really like the real thing. I think the wooden stands contribute a lot to the atmosphere.

  10. Cathy, your post is such a treat. I poured over all of your photos and tried to imagine walking there with you, hearing stories of markets past. I hope to visit one of these amazing markets one day. They seem full of warmth and charm. The wooden stands really add to the charm, and the wares are wonderfully unique. I’m glad you could visit a few of the markets this year, and I’m so happy you shared them with us. Looking out at the River Danube feels like a fairy tail. There is so much history all around you.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the post Alys! I think many people have seen a ‘German’ market somewhere in the world, but they really are so unique here in Bavaria, and the atmosphere is quite special. It is funny, but I have lived very near to the Danube in all my 24 years here and take it so much for granted now! Parts of the river really are beautiful and there are wonderful river trips not far from us (in the spring and summer!), and in Regensburg too. If you do ever get to visit Germany I will take you on one! πŸ˜€

  11. It was just lovely reading your post finally, Cathy! I saw it days ago and promised myself to sit down and enjoy it, rather than hurrying through on my phone, where I wouldn’t be able to see the pictures properly. Well, at long last I am sitting down for a few minutes πŸ˜‰ waiting for some dried fruit to soak before baking with it. Your photos are beautiful and it all gives a wonderful sense of atmosphere – traditional Christmas cheer is something hard to come by here, where everything is so new. Thanks so much for the tour – I loved it! πŸ™‚

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