If there’s one person we trust to guide us through Germany’s maze of Christmas markets, it’s IgoUgo member flyingscot4; he’s been visiting Germany for 45 years and describes the markets with equal parts whimsy and practicality. Luckily, he’s gifted us a trip journal called Christmas Markets of Bavaria, filled with tips for visiting the fairy-tale region’s very best Christkindlmärkte. Here are his picks.
Until Christmas 2008, the last time flyingscot4 was in Nürnberg for the holidays was in 1962, and he was nervous that traditions had changed. Not so, he says: “It was so worth the wait.” The best part? The Christkind’s opening ceremony, shown above, when viewers are “struck by the simple beauty...of the complete silence of 25,000 people.”
Bavaria’s capital may be better known for its Oktoberfest than for its Christmas festivals, but the Christkindlmärkte here are large and numerous. Our flyingscot4 recommends the Kripperlmarkt, or Manger Market, at night, “when the colors appear brightest and any wind dies down so that the aromas of candles, roasting sausages, potato pancakes, Glühwein, and Lebkuchen waft through the area.”
“There is no bad time to go to Rothenburg ob der Tauber,” says flyingscot4. “It is a truly magical city 365 days a year.” December may be most magical, though, with a market set apart by “what it does to the people who attend.” With “romance everywhere,” visitors “just kind of let themselves go and really enjoy the season.”
A bit upscale, a bit “ahead in technology,” and a bit more expensive than other cities’ offerings, Coburg’s Christkindlmarkt is nonetheless beloved for its kid-friendly attractions and its “special-recipe bratwurst.” Plus, “there is a civic pride in the residents that is well ahead of most cities.”
“No less charming” than the market of “big sister” Nürnberg, Ansbach’s Christmas market features “lots of stalls selling ornaments, nutcrackers, bratwurst, and 20-inch hot dogs” in front of a backdrop of buildings dating to the 1600s. For an equally grand soundtrack, duck into St. Gumbertus during organ practice and hear a “marvelous” performance.
A “do not miss” UNESCO World Heritage city, Bamberg is “a place in which to poke around and explore at a leisurely pace.” This is never more true than during market days at Maxplatz, when “aromas greet visitors from a block away, intensifying the emotions of festivity and causing a quickening of pace.” The impressive market is even “well worth a return visit.”
The incorporated villages of Oberasbach band together for a one-weekend Christmas market filled with “community pride” and crafts “handmade by members of local associations, schools, and churches.” With “delightful” entertainment ranging from church choirs and school bands to traditional Bavarian “oompah” music, Oberasbach is a wonderful place to experience a “small-town” market just outside Nürnberg.
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