Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by becks on March 15, 2002

In the weeks leading up to Christmas the pedestrian zone takes on a special festive role. Apart from delightful and tasteful window decorations a Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt, is set up with stalls selling anything from traditional crafts to more modern junk. The hand crafted Christmas tree decorations make generally nicer and easier to transport souvenirs than the cheap low quality mass-produced beer mugs that are on sale everywhere in town.

The mood is jolly and festive or "gemuetlich" as the Germans say. A vast selection of food is available ranging from sausages to huge pretzels and divine pastries. I was also surprised at the astonishing variety of fruits being sold here. The drink of choice is for a change not beer but Gluehwein - hot wine with some spices. Non-alcoholic Kinderpunsch is also available. The wine is served in mugs bearing the market’s name and often the year count as well. You pay a deposit (Pfand) for the first mug and can then reuse it and keep it if you like. Should you decide not to keep the mug as a souvenir you can get the deposit back, not at the stand where you originally bought the drink but at special stalls set up for this purpose. (Anyone who has ever worked in a bar or at large catered parties would recognize this as a marvelous idea to enhance the changes of the mug actually being rinsed with water rather than just thin air before being reused!)

A nice feature of this market is that it is not only set up for visitors - many locals also make an outing here at least once during the advent season. The market is spread out along several streets of the pedestrian zone but the center of activity is at the Marienplatz. It can get quite busy here early in the evening but the mood is wonderful with locals quite willing to help you order as the stall attendants speak heavily accented Bavarian and not high German.

Also take time to study the window decorations of the shops lining the pedestrian zone. Some have fantastic displays and most are very tasteful. A large toy store had an excellent display of moving teddy bears staffing a workshop that attracted huge crowds of all ages.

Most stalls open late afternoon when the main shops are closing and stay open until 21:00 or 22:00.

Munich Christmas Market
Marienplatz-Old Town
Munich, Bavaria

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