Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Christmas Markets in the HENhaus Area

With just about four weeks of Christmas Market time, and sooo many to choose from, I thought it might be fun to note the (totally subjective) highpoints and/or lowpoints of some local Markets! Note: Times listed are by train to the city itself, rather than the Market itself, using Nürnberg Hbf as a reference point.

An overview of Christmas Markets in 14 Franconian cities (in English) can be found here. For Christmas Markets in Bavaria centered around castles and gardens, see here

Never been to a Christmas Market in Germany? The Local has a visual guide to what to expect, Grounded Traveler wrote a bit more. 

Augsburg (2 hours)
Augsburg´s Market, with more than 130 booths, is open November 23-December 24 (Monday-Thursday, Sunday, 10-8pm, Fri-Sat 10-9:30pm). What differenciates this market from the rest are the Angel Performance (Fri-Sun 6pm, December 23 7 pm)  where 24 Angels (representing 24 days of Advent) perform at the Rathaus which is turned into a living Advent Calendar. Also noteworthy is the Fairytale Street where moving window displays tell a fairytale.  
NOTE: November 27 the market is open until midnight! 

Bamberg (45 minutes from Nürnberg)
Photo: Eva Acoff used with permissio
Bamberg´s main Christmas Market is open at Maxplatz November 26th – December 23rd
Monday till Saturday: 09:00 till 20:00
Sunday: 11:00 till 20:00. Though nice, it´s not anything out of the ordinary. Glühwein, ornaments, scarves, etc. for sale. 

From November 27-29 by St. Elizabeth´s Church (Sandstraße), however, is a fantastic traditional market featuring all home made wares. More info here. 

December 12 - 13 Don Bosco Christmas Market with over 50 artists selling handmade goods. Jakobsplatz 5. 

Not a Weihnachtsmarkt, but related to Christmas, Bamberg is world renowned as a city of Nativity Scenes. Plan your walk around town to the about 400 Nativity scenes (link in English to descriptions of each Nativity. The broschure Krippenstadt Bamberg available at the Tourist Info Center and Rathaus with a map) at 40 different stops. The Bamberg Navity Museum is not to miss, with nativities from around Germany, and around the world. 

Cadolzburg (45 minutes)
Cadolzburg´s Advent Market is open November 29-30 and recommended by several HENhaus members as a favorite!. This market features homemade items for sale. The castle looks "like a fairytale". 

From "On 29 and 30 November the Cadolzburg near Fürth is also celebrating Advent. Thetraditional artisans’ market takes place in the medieval atmosphere of the castle’s bailey, where numerous stall-holders offer jewellery, textiles, handicrafts, ceramics and floral art. The seasonal activities are not confined to the castle: on the Marktplatz and the Pisendelplatz of the little town of Cadolzburg itself there is also an Advent market, surrounded by historical half-timbered houses.

Artisans’ market at the Cadolzburg
28 - 29 November, Saturday 2-7pm, Sunday 11am-7pm
Admission free"

Coburg (1.75 hours) 
Coburg and region really outdo themselves for Christmas. The Christmas Market itself is open from November 27-December 23 11am - 8pm every day!  

More information here

Erlangen (17 minutes)
Erlangen has two Christmas Markets, open November 25 - December 24. 
By Schlossplatz is the Forest Market, the Erlanger Waldweihnacht, with more of a forest atmosphere. I love the mulch on the ground, and the trees that look like this, it´s a personal favorite. 

TIP: The Kinderbackstube- kids can bake their own Erlanger Wichtel (€2, estimated time 30 minutes). Reserve a spot here. There is also a wreath making station.

TIP: Erlangen on Ice (free ice skating, just pay skate rental) is right there as well! 

The Medieval Christmas Market in Erlangen is also recommended. Entertainment, cosy open fires, and more. This one gets very crowded, so get their early. 

More on both in English here. 

Forchheim (40 minutes)
Adorable Forchheim hosts a fantastic Christmas Market from November 29 - December 24 (12-8 pm daily, December 24 9am - 1pm). The highlight is Advent Calendar deemed the most beautiful in the world (per their website, of course) located at the Rathaus. Live music starts at 5:30 daily, the window opening by the Forchheim Christmas Angel at 6:30pm. Forchheim is also well known for their Nativity Trail. A downloadable map of their Nativity Trail, or Krippenweg, and more information in German can be found here. 

TIP: Take a tour of the Christmas Market, including some of the Nativity Trail for €6 in English. This also includes a mug of Glühwein, Lebkuchen (ginger bread).
TIP: The market extends all the way from Sattlertorstraße to the Kaiserpfalz, be sure to see it all!

Fürth (7 minutes)
Fürth also has several Christmas Markets to choose from.
The Altstadtweihnachtsmarkt runs from the 4th to 13th of December. Highlight? The Nightwatchman closing the market at 8pm. 

The Fürther Weihnachtsmarkt runs from November 26 - December 23 daily 10a - 11pm. A 5 minute walk from the main train station. Attached to this market,, is a Middle Ages Market. Small, but cozy, with loads of open fires to sit by, link to their Facebook page, with photos from last year here

TIP: For a nice break from traditional Christmas Market fare, eat at the Middle Ages Market. Last year they had loads of soups, sandwiches made from hemp bread, Irish food, among other items. 

Also recommended by a HENhaus member, the Herzogenaurach Weinachtsmarkt is from December 4-6.  More information, and the daily program in English may be found here

Nordheim (1.75 by train, 1.25 by car) 
In Franconian wine country, and only on the weekends of November 21-22 and 28-29! Recommended by a member as being well worth the trip for their " art gallery, wine tasting counter, indoor shops, and local Weihnacht Quintet". Click here for more info and directions.

Photo: Roland Berger, Wikipedia
Dating back to 1628, one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany. With 180 stands, one of the largest and most famous as well! The famous Christkind will open the Market in a ceremony at 5:30 on opening day, November 27, and make appearances throughout the Market time. Loads of traditional "Christmas Market Stuff" and more. Highlights include the stagecoach, or horse and carriage rides (info here), the Market of the Sister Cities with gift and food items from Nürnberg´s 20 sister and partner cities around the world (personal favorite), the Children´s Market Kinderweihnacht with hands on activities for kids to do, and the lantern procession where 1,500 children take to the streets, lead by the Christkind, carrying lanterns (December 10. 5:45pm this year). More info, including a plan of the many stands and the program of events can be found here. Information specifically geared towards a visit with children can be found here.

TIP: Weekends and Opening Day are crowded. Get there early.

The Handwerkerhof (near the Hbf) is also a great place to visit during Christmas season.

Regensburg (about 1 hour)
Regensburg has several Christmas Markets to choose from from November 26 - December 23.  More information here

The Romantic Christmas Market at Schloss Thurn and Taxis was recommended by several HENhaus members. This market focuses on handmade regional crafts, and is normally less crowded than the Altstadt Market. Especially noted were the many log fires around the castle courtyard to sit by. TIP:  The Princess of Thurn und Taxis welcomes the guests from the castle balcony every night and recites the Christmas Story. The Christkind recites poems. Entry M-F €6,50 adults, weekends €8,50. Kids €2 Under 6 free

TIP: Accoding to a HENhaus member, waiting for the reduced rates (after 8pm M-F, 9 pm S-Sun) are not worth it. During those times the market is SUPER busy. 

While there, take a tour of the city. Information about regularly scheduled guided tours in English here

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1.5 hours)
Photo: Wikipedia
One of the area´s prettiest (and most visited!) cities, with winding paths,the Rothenburg Reitleresmarkt goes from November 27- December 23 throughout the small city. More on the market, and why it´s called the Reitleresmarkt (as opposed to Weihnachtsmarkt) here in English. The town prides itself on their Schneeballs

TIP: On Fridays and Saturdays the Town Tower will be open, allowing visitors a view over the city and the magical market. 

TIP: SUPER small town, SUPER popular with tourists, not only those going as a family, but boat and bus tours that come in groups of hundreds at a time......all year round, and especially at Christmas. Allow extra time for everything. 

Vilshofen (about 2 hours)
The Schwimmender Christkindlmarkt is not only lines the river Danube, but part of it is takes place on ships ON the Danube. Friday- Sundays only, November 27 - December 13. Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 2-8 pm, Sunday, 1-8pm. 

Würzburg (1.25 hours)  

The Würzburg Market runs from November 27 - December 23 (Mon-Sat 10a - 8:30p, Sun 11a- 8:30p) in the in the upper and lower Market Squares. Over 100 stalls. 

A PDF of Christmas related tours, etc. can be found here

TIP: On weekends a city tour by train is available during Advent season. €8 Adults, €6 children, about 40 minutes. 

TIP: There is a local artisan´s market at the Rathaus (November 27 - December 23, 10a-8:30p Mon - Friday, 11a- 8:30p Sundays, enter at Domstraße). You can watch local artisans create pottery, blow glass, work with iron, etc. as well as purchase hand made gifts. Entrance: free. 

These are just some of the bigger Christmas Markets in the area, or those that have been recommended. Want to find a Weihnachtsmarkt near you? Use the Christmas Market finder here (in German), just type in your zip code (PLZ).

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