by Ó Gaff Mór
Christmas Markets in Germany
Part Three of Three
There are many major Christmas markets in Germany besides those held in Berlin and, while the Christmas markets in Berlin have always been my favorites, the following are three of my Christmas markets beyond Berlin. They are unquestionably superb and warrant at least a day-long visit if possible.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
(Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt) opened on 27 November 2015 and runs through 24 December 2015 and is open from 1000 until 2100 daily, except on the last day (Christmas Eve), when it closes at 1400. Merchants go out of their way to turn old town Nuremberg into a very, very colorful, cheerful, and festive Christmassy city. There are over 180 well decorated and lighted stalls arranged for one to find unique gifts, ornaments, games, drinks, and snacks. There’s plenty of mulled wine and alcohol punch, bratwurst, lebkuchen, roasted almonds, and gingerbread and the mix of aromas, nostalgia, childlike anticipation, and camaraderie enhance the experience for everyone, regardless of age.
One of the Nuremberg Christmas Market’s main attractions is the distinctive yellow Christmas Stagecoach, drawn by two Rheinland heavy draft horses which are reined by Heinz Lehneis, with Gerhard Pickel at his side, toting a golden horn, rather than a shotgun. Pickel plays holiday tunes to the delight of onlookers while, inside the stagecoach, lucky passengers take in the entire Christmas Market from their privileged seats. Passage in the stagecoach lasts about 10 minutes and they are memorable minutes indeed, particularly for children and for adults recalling their childhood.
The source of almost all the craftworks not only for the Dresden Christmas Market, but also for Christmas Markets throughout Europe, is the small Saxon town Seiffen. With fewer than 2,700 residents, Seiffen is in the middle of the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), within walking distance of Czechoslovakia. Seiffen began as a mining town 700 years ago, but, as the silver and tin deposits depleted, the residents turned to lace making, weaving, and wood carving and began to specialize in toy making.
At the end of the 17th century, Nuremberg was a key toy distribution point for much of Europe. A Seiffen resident, Friedrich Hiemann, took toys to various toy distributors in Nuremberg. The distributors were impressed by the toys and Seiffen has been a key player ever since.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
It is one of the oldest, most popular, and most infectiously exciting Christmas Markets in Germany. It’s centered in the city center in view of the so-called old palace and extends past the Altes Schloss, Schillerplatz, Kirchstrasse, and Hirschstrasse. With almost 300 stalls, there’s virtually nothing left to the imagination. If you’re at sixes-and-sevens as to what to buy for a reclusive aunt, a prickly boss, or a borderline sweetheart, you will find many possibilities as you wander through the Stuttgart Christmas Market.
Visitors of all ages to the Stuttgart Christmas Market are bathed in the continual music and songs of the many visiting choirs, choral groups, and instrumental groups chosen for their popularity and expertise to nurture and promote the seasonal Christmas spirit. All the while, the market’s physical layout provides rapid and accurate access to the sort of treats sought by visitors, whether it be candies and various local savories, household wares, honey products, seasonal clothing, decorations, candles, or toys.
The huge expanse of the market includes the ice-skating rink adjacent to the Schlossplatz and the magnificent antique and collectors’ marketplace in the Karlsplatz. There’s a delightful mini-railway for children, and a live nativity scene that includes two lambs, two sheep, a donkey, and two goats for the duration of the Christmas Market in the Sporerstraße near the market hall.
U-Bahn 5, 6, 7, & 15 bring you to the center of the market at Schlossplatz, and U-Bahn 1, 2, 4, & 11 bring you to within two blocks of the Marktplatz at the Rathaus. If you prefer the bus, use lines 42, 43, 44, & 92 to deliver you safe and sound to the market. In other words, lack of transportation is no excuse for missing out.