A sticky bun isn’t a stollen: going to a German Christmas Market

Lucia Christmas Market in Berlin. © Jochen Loch
Lucia Christmas Market in Berlin.
© Jochen Loch

I love going to the Christmas Market in Germany. It’s so……well, German!

In Berlin, where I live, there are about sixty Christmas Markets in the capital city, of different varieties and types. Some of the markets are quite contemporary and modern and some are traditional and quaint.

Tradition and quaint at the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market in Berlin!
Tradition and quaint at the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market in Berlin!

I love the German Christmas Markets because they remind and prepare me for the winter season, and the time of year in which we have to dress up in our winter woollies and go out.

I love the German Christmas Market as it’s so very different from markets at home – in England. I mean, you can drink as much alcohol as you like for a start.

Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

Outdoors. Legally.

Wow!

Old German gothic handwriting and print...
Old German gothic handwriting and print…

Most of the stalls in the markets are made out of wood and have the old German gothic handwriting and print, on their signage. It’s known as Sütterlin or Suetterlin script. This type of writing was pretty popular in 20th century pre-war Germany. You can see the writing outside old buildings and in the parks and even though, it looks romantic and speaks of nostalgia, although I find it difficult to read.

You can even find German Christmas Markets in town squares, near large boulevards, outside shopping centres and arcades, in side streets and sometimes in public buildings too! Cool stuff at the Sony Centre Forum in Berlin.
You can even find German Christmas Markets in town squares, near large boulevards, outside shopping centres and arcades, in side streets and sometimes in public buildings too!
Cool stuff at the Sony Centre Forum in Berlin.

You can also find some of the German Christmas Markets in town squares, near large boulevards, outside shopping centres and arcades, on side streets and sometimes in public buildings too like town halls, government offices, museums, galleries and castles.

Being that I live in Germany, nothing is done without some sort of order, precision and regulation thus, the German Christmas Markets are only open and available during the four weeks of Advent, which starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. It’s believed that this tradition started in the late Middle Ages, and that the first formal location was in Vienna, 1294!

Masked entertainment at the Vienna Opera! @Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria
Masked entertainment at the Vienna Opera!
@Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria

The German Christmas Markets or Weihnachtsmarkt is enormously popular in German-speaking Europe, parts of Italy, parts of France and in the United States. It’s even popular in England and very successful in my home town of Manchester, and in other cities like Leeds and Bath!

I went to the German Christmas Market in Birmingham a few years ago, and I was very impressed!

Even Romania has a Christmas Market...!
Even Romania has a Christmas Market…!

The notion of a German Christmas Market even spread as far as that of Romania, with their very own public market that opened in 2007.

In Germany, the Christmas Markets sell food, drink, christmas decorations, ornaments, crafts and carvings, lights and seasonal ware, often in addition to singing, dancing, ice-skating, and other forms of entertainment.Very akin to a country festival fair!

The German Christmas Market is very akin to a country fair! @Michael Setzpfandt
The German Christmas Market is very akin to a country fair!
@Michael Setzpfandt

If you’re going to visit a German Christmas Market, I’d strongly advice you to prepare your stomach, unzip your coat and roll up your sleeves, as there’s so much to eat, drink and see.

There’s so much to eat, at a German Christmas Market!
There’s so much to eat, at a German Christmas Market!

There’s no saving me….

...And there's so much to drink at the German Christmas Market too!
…And there’s so much to drink at the German Christmas Market too!

You can have:

Gingerbread that I made myself..!
Gingerbread that I made myself..!

Gingerbread biscuits – Lebkuchen

Sweet, toasted almonds – Gebrannte Mandeln

A perfectly acceptable pork grilled sausage or bratwurst!
A perfectly acceptable pork grilled sausage or bratwurst!

Grilled sausages with mustard or ketchup – Bratwurst

White cabbage and salted / slightly smoked pork – Sauerkraut und Kassler

One of my favourite Christmas Market meals - Green cabbage and pork sausages or Grünkohl und Knacker!
One of my favourite Christmas Market meals – Green cabbage and pork sausages or Grünkohl und Knacker!

Green cabbage and pork sausages – Grünkohl und Knacker

Eggnog – Eierpunsch

Stollen at the German Christmas Market. Yeah!
Stollen at the German Christmas Market. Yeah!

A sweet yeast dough with candied citrus peels, spices, raisins, nuts or marzipan and covered in castor sugar / icing sugar – Stollen

And the very highlight of every German Christmas Market: Hot mulled wine – Glühwein

This is what Feuerzangenbowle looks like, in the safety and serenity of a German home!
This is what Feuerzangenbowle looks like, in the safety and serenity of a German home!

For those of you who have a really strong alcoholic tendency, I also recommend: a traditional rum-filled type of mulled wine. It’s put in a huge canister, filled with huge lumps of sugarloaf or Zuckerhut soaked in rum, set on fire and dripped into cups and glasses. It’s called – Feuerzangenbowle and is an absolute killer!

This is what Feuerzangenbowle looks like after you've had a few. It's a Christmas Market killer! ©The Music Producer - Frank Böster
This is what Feuerzangenbowle looks like after you’ve had a few. It’s a Christmas Market killer!
©The Music Producer – Frank Böster

I had a cup once and almost fell to the floor!

It’s strong stuff and as I’m a bit of a light weight when it comes to the matter of strong alcohol, I can only manage half a cup – after a heavy meal of stodge!

German sausages.
German sausages.

The very famous German Christmas Markets can be found in Dresden, Dortmund, Cologne, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Erfurt, Frankfurt and of course, Berlin.

There are so many Christmas Markets to choose from so I’ve picked my favourites below:

1.  The WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt or the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market: OMG! This market is one of the most beautiful and one of the most famous, German Christmas Markets in Berlin. It’s in the old French square and is surrounded by the opera house, two cathedrals, very expensive haute couture shops, art galleries, 5 -star restaurants and luxury hotels!

The WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt or the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, is one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Germany!
The WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt or the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, is one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Germany!

It focuses on traditional handicrafts such as flax embroidery, wood carving, stone masonry, acrobats, classical or jazz choirs, and exclusive food and drink. You only have to pay €1.00 or €2.00 to get in, but it’s so worth it.

There’s still time to catch it, as it’s always open to the 31st of December!

2.  The Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt Opernpalais or the Unter den Linden Christmas Market: This is also a favourite of mine as this German Christmas Market is located between the most elegant State Opera House – Staatsoper and the Opera Palace – Opernpalais. It is also opposite the 1810 academic Humboldt University of Berlin or Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt Opernpalais or the Unter den Linden Christmas Market is another firm favourite of mine! ©Visit Berlin - Wolfgang Scholvien
The Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt Opernpalais or the Unter den Linden Christmas Market is another firm favourite of mine!
©Visit Berlin – Wolfgang Scholvien

This most noble and nostalgic Christmas Market also focuses on skilled and crafted people who make candles, lanterns, almonds and chestnuts, and lots and lots of illuminated lights. In fact, the very long boulevard is lit with twinkly christmas lights and balls in trees and plants. The market also has horse-drawn carriages and a historical atmosphere of old.

3.   The Adventsmarkt der Domäne Dahlem or The Advents Market of the Dahlem Manor: This German Christmas Market is a market with a difference as it’s located in a former Manor. The manor is located in the south-west suburbs of Berlin and is over 800 years old! The Manor is also an open-air museum focused on agriculture and farm life of old. You can imagine what a Christmas Market would look like here.

The Adventsmarkt der Domäne Dahlem or The Advents Market of the Dahlem Manor, is a German Christmas Market located in a former aristocratic manor! ©K. Wendlandt
The Adventsmarkt der Domäne Dahlem or The Advents Market of the Dahlem Manor, is a German Christmas Market located in a former aristocratic manor!
©K. Wendlandt

It’s great! There is livestock, people are dressed up in medieval clothes, there are exhibitions, food and drink from the ages and music and concerts. There is an admission fee and it can be a little chilly ‘cos it’s outdoor based, but it’s soooo much fun.

4.  This year we spent a lot of time at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the Lucia Christmas Market in the hip and trendy courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg! This popular romantic Christmas Market is not even German at all, but rather, Nordic Scandinavian!

Nordic Angels at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the Lucia Christmas Market in the courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg! © Jochen Loch
Nordic Angels at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the Lucia Christmas Market in the courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg!
© Jochen Loch

It’s about 10 minutes from where I live, and is an ensemble of twenty (20) buildings and six (6) courtyards connected in an outdoor space of 25,000 m² in red and yellow bricked industrial architecture, of the 19th century!

The industrial architecture of the 19th century - im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin! © Jochen Loch
The industrial architecture of the 19th century – im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin!
© Jochen Loch

This Christmas Market is very picturesque and is filled with artistic charm and romantic innings. The market is so named because it’s dedicated to the Nordic goddess of lights – Lucia – and is represented and dedicated to countries from the Scandinavian hemisphere. It also has Swedish open air fires, art, food and drink, as well as bungee jumping, trampolining and a merry-go-round!

Having said that, this Christmas Market is as German as you want it to be.

The people. In Germany, at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the Lucia Christmas Market courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg! © Jochen Loch
The people. In Germany, at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt im Hof der Kulturbrauerei or the Lucia Christmas Market courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg!
© Jochen Loch

We very much enjoyed eating:

I don't usually eat potato pancakes as I don't like them! But I was willing to give 'em a try!
I don’t usually eat potato pancakes as I don’t like them! But I was willing to give ’em a try!

Potato pancake with apple sauce – Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelkompot

Deer sausage with mustard – Hirsch Bratwurst

White cabbage & salted / slightly smoked pork with pan-fried sliced potatoes, dollops of horse-radish and spicy mustard - Sauerkraut und Kassler. Yum!
White cabbage & salted / slightly smoked pork with pan-fried sliced potatoes, dollops of horse-radish and spicy mustard – Sauerkraut und Kassler.
Yum!

White cabbage and salted / slightly smoked pork with pan-fried sliced potatoes, dollops of horse-radish and spicy mustard– Sauerkraut und Kassler.

Spicy Mulled wine – Glühwein

Trying out the Feuerzangenbowle. Again!
Trying out the Feuerzangenbowle. Again!

Non-alcoholic punch for “The Tall Young Gentleman.”

We didn’t have any snow this year and it wasn’t even cold, but you can’t be in Germany at this time of year, without partaking in the fun of a German Christmas Market!

See you next year!

Lean on me!
Lean on me!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.

Have you ever been to a German Christmas Market? Have you been to Germany in the winter? Would you eat a sausage made from deer meat?

"The Tall Young Gentleman" and I
“The Tall Young Gentleman” and I

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20 thoughts on “A sticky bun isn’t a stollen: going to a German Christmas Market

  1. OMG, all that glorious food! It’s all about the food for me and I dont know what can beat Germany in the regard. The closest I’ve come to a German Christmas market is the Belgian one, but I cant wait for the real deal.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Anna. I hope you had a fine Christmas and New Year? Yes, the market food was so good and really everything you need to enjoy an evening of walking around, keeping warm and drinking!
      I haven’t been to the Belgian Christmas market. In fact, I didn’t know that they had one but having said that, count me in for hot mussels and thickly-cut chips!

      Like

  2. What a fun post! I’d never been to a Christmas Market until we happened upon one while visiting London last December. I loved it! We have so-called “Christmas Markets” in New York City, but they’re much smaller and honestly not as festive as the ones in Europe… and you’ve sold me on visiting one in Berlin! And on that Feuerzangenbowle. Yowzer!

    Like

    1. Awww. Thank you so much Miranda!
      I know. Right? Christmas markets are amazing. I’m such a sucker for them and in Europe? They are pretty serious with everyone meeting their friends and family and having a pretty good time I might add! The Berlin Christmas Markets are fantastic. The lights. The food. The people. The entertainment. Oh yeah, and the alcohol. Phwor!

      Like

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