Europe’s Festive Christmas Markets – Germany
Prior to traveling through Europe last winter, we hadn’t even heard of Europe’s festive Christmas Markets. Our first experience was in Budapest, Hungary, where we fortunately stumbled into a market while exploring the city on foot.
Our first impression was, “How fun is this market?! It’s so festive and Christmasy!”
This was quickly followed by, “Why don’t we have these back home?”
At first, we thought it was just a Budapest thing. We didn’t realize that Christmas Markets are a typical European tradition. We really enjoyed Europe’s festive Christmas Markets and made an effort to visit as many as possible. Without question, European’s know how to celebrate the holiday season!
We’ve put together a photo blog highlighting our Christmas Market experience in Germany.
Enjoying some hot Glühwein served in a ceramic boot mug (Berlin Christmas Market)
As we wandered through our first Christmas Market in Germany, we noticed that everyone was drinking a hot beverage served in a colourful ceramic boot. Judging by everyone’s “merriness”, we assumed it was an alcoholic beverage. We kept seeing the words “Glühwein” posted everywhere, so we naturally put the two together.
What is Glühwein?
If you don’t know, you’re not alone. As outsiders from Canada, we had no idea when we first gave it a try. Basically, Glühwein is prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. It’s sweet and delicious, the perfect winter beverage.
But be careful, too many Glühweins can lead to a nasty hangover!
In total, we visited four Christmas Markets while in Berlin, each with a slightly different approach. Some were like carnivals with rides, games, and bright lights, while others had skating rinks or live music. But all had one thing in common – grilled sausages, cold beer, hot Gluhwein and cheerful patrons!
Below: Cam confused by the size of the bun that came with his grilled Bratwurst. Delicious, but odd to get such a tiny bun (though we learned this is quite common in Germany).
Below: Huge Christmas Market at the popular Alexanderplatz in Berlin. This was the biggest and most glamorous market we visited in Germany. It was more like a winter carnival than a traditional Christmas Market!
It was smaller than Cologne’s main Christmas Market located in front of the famous Kölner Dom (below).
Below: View of the red-roofed Christmas Market from inside the tower of the gothic Kölner Dom. This photo gives a great perspective of what the market layouts look like.
Below: Cameron’s snack at the market – Kölsch beer with grilled Bratwurst sausage served on a disproportionate bun with spicy German mustard (many, many sausages were consumed that holiday season!).
Below: Kölner Dom at night with the bright lights of the vibrant Christmas Market below.
Below: The small but charming Christmas Market in Wessling, Germany (A suburb of Cologne).
Above: Nicole shackled at the unique Christmas Market in the town of Seigburg, Germany. This market is quite different from the other German markets we had visited. It has a medieval theme and does not use electricity. The food was cooked over and open flame and candles were used instead of lights.
Below: Blacksmith’s in full costume, hammering metal and steel to the delight of curious children. The Seigburg Christmas Market was set up to feel like what Christmas might have been like hundreds of years ago.
Below: Cochem town square. Is that not the perfect Christmas setting?!
Below: The merry streets of Bernkastel illuminated at night. The recent snowfall adds to the picture perfect Christmas setting.
Below: Nicole enjoying a cheerful boot mug of hot and sweet Glühwein.
In our opinion, Europe is the best place to soak up the Christmas spirit during the Holidays. In total, during the month of December, we think we visited about 15 Christmas Markets while in Germany – and many more in its neighbouring countries (more posts to follow shortly!)
Have you experienced a European Christmas Market? What did you think?
Leave us your comments below, we’d love to hear from you!