Christmas in Germany is a magical time. The four weeks leading up to the 25th are filled with weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets), glühwein, and much nicer than usual Germans.
However, Christmas Eve til the day after Christmas can be a little quiet as these are family holidays. So where to go to feel that yuletide feeling? These are some of the best places to spend Christmas in Germany – with or without your family and friends.
Not all Christmas markets are created equal and the Nuremberg Christmas Market may be the best in the country.
Located in the heart of the altstadt (old town), watch for the angelic Christkind, a child that acts as an ambassador of the city. They wander among the festive red and white striped booths and lead the celebration. Shop the 180 traditionally decorated huts for hand-made goods and order some sustenance in the form of Nuremberg rostbratwurst, a warming drink, and favorite sweets like lebkuchen (gingerbread).
Christmas Eve at Berlin Cathedral
Berlin has many lovely Christmas markets, but if you’re in the city on Christmas Eve, here’s a special event you won’t want to miss.
On Christmas Eve, the cathedral is open to the public for heavenly choir concerts. Hushed masses make their way through the rows of pews and then the singing begins. Familiar carols like “O Tannenbaum” (O Christmas Tree) echo throughout and visitors know the true meaning of gemütlichkeit.
World’s Largest Advent Calendar House
For over 15 years the quaint town of Gengenbach in Baden-Württemberg has transformed its entire Rathaus (Town Hall) into the world’s largest Advent Calendar House, or – auf Deutsch – “Das weltgrößte Adventskalenderhaus“.
The 24 windows (two rows of 11 plus 2 in the roof) are each decorated with a festive Christmas scene with a new window revealed every night until Christmas. Celebrate the lead-up, or catch the full picture on Christmas day.
There are other towns with building-sized advents calendar, but this is the biggest.
Dresden Christmas Market
Dresden has the oldest Christmas market in Germany, dating back to 1434. Dresden’s Christmas market is famous for having the world’s biggest nutcracker and a huge Christmas pyramid, a 45-foot high wooden carousel with life-sized angels and scenes from the Nativity.
If you arrive before Christmas Day, check out the Stollen Festival on December 5. An enormous stollen (traditional Christmas cake) is presented, weighing 4 tons and measuring 13 feet in length. At any other time, just buy a normal-sized cake to enjoy yourself.
Bamberg’s Route of Nativity Scenes
This charming city gets has many lovely places to visit, including its traditional taverns, Rauchbiers will warm you from the inside. Plan a visit to the cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage center in this “Franconian Rome”.
For Christmas, Maximiliansplatz is illuminated and decorated with a traditional market surrounded by Bamberg’s Franconian half-timbered architecture. Walk the Route of Nativity Scenes which consists of over 40 sites and about 400 Christmas cribs in a mix of historical and modern scenes.
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