It may only be September but I find myself already in hibernation mode, shying away from the cold, drizzly gloom outside. I am in serious need of some hearty, warming comfort food… and perhaps even a trip out of the country to search for it! After all, what could be more festive as we head into winter than a visit to the land of Christmas charm? I present to you, my favourite Yuletide spots in Germany:
As the closest Christmas market to the UK, this ancient little spa town nestled on the Belgian border seems the logical place to start. Once the seat of Emporer Charlemagne, it still guards his treasures, from gold and jewels to the very buildings themselves – glorious examples of Medieval architecture, including the oldest cathedral in Northern Europe. With such a beautiful and historic setting, Aachen’s Christmas market couldn’t be better positioned, but it is its local delicacies that often steal the show. The speciality here is Aachen printen, a type of gingerbread exclusive to the town, which appears everywhere in an abundance of shapes and sizes.
One of the most highly attended Christmas markets, Nuremburg’s pageantry and strict rules on authentic offerings gives the experience a very family-friendly feel. The main attraction is the Christkind, or Christmas Angel, a local girl chosen each year to open the market form the balcony of the Frauenkirche and to represent the spirit of Nuremburg’s Christmas celebrations.
One of Germany’s best kept secrets, Monshau was awarded Most Beautiful Christmas Market in West Germany, and though small, this perfectly preserved little town certainly delivers as a truly quaint and festive market. I recommend checking out Monshau’s Christmas House; 3 stories filled entirely with decorations to admire and buy throughout the Christmas season.
Often cited as Germany’s oldest Christmas market with a history dating back to 1434, Dresden’s version even has its own name, Striezelmarkt. The name comes from the word Hefestriezel, a sweet delicacy which, centuries later, has become known as “Dresden Christstollen”. Today this local Christmas cake is the culinary focus of Dresden Christmas market, along with the world’s largest nutcracker and Christmas Pyramid!
If you are still having trouble choosing just one Christmas market, then why not head for Cologne where an astounding 7 different markets are held each year! Whether you fancy the impressive backdrop of the Cologne Cathedral market, or the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market with it’s gourmet focus next to a chocolate factory, or even the cabaret and shows of Christmas Avenue, Cologne’s Gay and Lesbian Christmas Market, there’s something for everyone in Cologne!