Salzburg Salzburg is at its best in winter, when everything is covered with a dusting of snow. The city even smells like Christmas as the rich aromas of glühwein, roast chestnuts and freshly baked gingerbread from the numerous markets mingle in the cold air. Add the sound of church bells, choral singing and brass bands, and it's the perfect city in which to get into the festive spirit. Salzburg's Christkindlmarkt is one of Europe's oldest markets; there are documents from the 15th century describing the fine crafts being sold by elderly women in front of the Salzburg cathedral during Advent season. It is also smaller and more intimate, just 85 stalls ranged under the floodlit baroque stage set that is downtown Salzburg, with its fountains snuggled under avant-garde glass casings for the winter, church bells echoing off the buildings, and the medieval castle glowering down from the cliff above. It's a perfect postcard backdrop for browsing stalls selling pewter crafts, furry slippers, and loden coats while keeping warm with gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and almonds, sausages, and sweet mulled wine.
Operates:Late Nov. - Dec. 26
Munich Crafts stalls surround a glittering 100-foot Christmas tree on the oldest of Munich's Christmas markets Marienplatz, which is filled with Muncheners munching on sausages and potato pancakes, gulping glühwein, and crunching gingerbread. In the Town Hall, the Heavenly Workshop keeps children engaged with arts, crafts and baking. Every evening at 5:30, from the Friday before Advent to the night before Christmas, a brass band and Alpine choir peal out carols from the balcony of the neo-Gothic Rathaus (Town Hall).There are also small themed markets sprinkled around the city, including the famed Kripperlmarkt (Crib Market) on Rindermarkt, a dedicated manger market provides all the elements required to create a Nativity scene, and a Medieval Market on Wittelsbacher Platz. Also keep your eyes peeled for the Christmas tram that trundles through the old city serving spiced wine and gingerbread.
In all there are a further 20 Christmas Markets located throughout the city of Munich, including a Medieval Christmas Market with gospel singing at the Wittelsbacher Platz, a gay pink Christmas Market (Stephansplatz) and if you have forgotten anything before leaving for home there is even a Christmas Market with ice skating facilities at Munich?s international airport.
Operates: Late Nov. - Dec. 24
24 Dec 10am-2pm
Nuremberg On the Friday before Advent, the golden Christmas Angel appears on the high gallery of the medieval Frauenkirche to recite the opening prologue for one of the biggest and most famous Christmas markets of them all. Two million shoppers descend upon the 180 candy cane-striped stalls that fill the main square with crafts, ornaments, and toys. Each stall holder present their traditional wares: Nuremberg spicy gingerbread, fruit loaves, bakery goods, sweets and typical Christmas articles such as Christmas tree angels, cribs, Christmas tree ornaments, candles, toys as well as many arts and craft products. The air is perfumed with gingerbread, glühwein, and smoke swirling from bratwurst grills. The Nuremberg Kinderweihnacht is the children?s market and has an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel and steam train. The Nativity scene trail runs between the two markets. Market officials enforce traditions with typical Teutonic efficiency: no plastic wreaths, recorded Christmas Muzak, or gaudy carousels allowed. Be sure to look for `Nuremberg Plum People,` tiny puppets made of prune limbs, fig torsos, and walnut heads with painted-on faces. Stall owners compete to win the coveted "Gold Plum Person" prize for their displays. Operates: 25th November ? 24th December 2011
Opening ceremony: 5.30pm
24 Dec 2011: 9.30am-2pm
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Every year Rothenburg is transformed from a summer paradise into a winter wonderland and is home to one of the most romantic Christmas markets in Germany.Known for its medieval setting, Rothenburg is a walled city that has been left largely untouched for hundreds of years. Visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like stepping into a time warp. The town boasts some of the most impressive medieval architecture in Europe, and citizens? fight tooth and nail to keep developers outside of the city walls. Its medieval stage is home to the annual 'Reiterlesmarkt,' the Christmas market named after a local Teutonic legend, which began during pre-Christian times as the story of a horrid rider who carried the souls of the dead. As Christianity swept through Europe, the figure developed from a wild man into a loving, gentle man who gave gifts to all people on earth. While Christmas decorations can be bought all year long in Rothenburg, the holidays are a special time to view the city and the market in its illuminated splendor. A local specialty that shouldn't be missed is the "Schneeball" or snow ball, made from strips of sweet dough fried and covered with powdered sugar or chocolate. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is also home to the German Christmas Museum. Operates: Nov 25 - 23 Dec 2011
Mon - Thur 11.00 - 19.00
Fri - 11.00 - 20.00
Sat - 10.30 - 20.00
Sun - 10.30 - 19.00
Stuttgart Its festive illuminations, the wonderful scents of cinnamon and vanilla, the wooden chalets, richly adorned with angels, conifer branches and Christmas ornaments, not to mention the "Wintertraum" winter wonderland on Palace Square, create a nostalgic Christmas ambience which enthralls millions of visitors each year. The massive, 318-year-old market, set amid the city's gabled houses hung with fir branches and angels, sprawls across several historic center squares between the Gothic cathedral and ivy-clad castle. Vendors in some 270 stalls sell wooden toys, glass baubles, nutcrackers, and sheepskin clothing, along with sheep ham, sheep sausages, sheep's-milk cheese, waffles, gingerbread, roasted almonds, and Hutzelbrot (fruitcake). In the evening, grab a warm Glühpunsch wine scented with cinnamon and vanilla and amble into the Old Castle's Renaissance courtyard for the daily Christmas concert (6pm weekdays, 5pm weekends). For the kiddies, the Kinderland on Schlossplatz offers rides (carousel, Ferris wheel, mini steam railway) and some hands-on holiday experiences like making candles.There are fantastic thematic markets in a pair of satellite towns, each just 15 minutes away on the S-Bahn light rail system. The Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market includes fire-eaters and live medieval music as a backdrop to costumed craftsmen creating leather apparel, calligraphy, silver jewelry, baked goods, and hand-dyed clothing. The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market consists of tidy stalls overseen by massive sets of twinkling angel wings under the floodlit facades of the baroque main square.
Operates: Late Nov. - Dec. 23
Begin with Salzburg`s Christkindlmarkt, one of Europe`s oldest markets(there are documents from the 15th century describing the fine crafts being sold by elderly women). Then continue to Munich and the craft stalls surrounding a glittering 100-foot Christmas tree in Marienplatz. On to visit Nuremberg, where 180 candy cane-striped stalls fill the main square with crafts, ornaments, and toys. Continue to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for one of the most romantic Christmas Markets in Germany and finally, end in Stuttgart, with its festive illuminations, the wonderful scents of cinnamon and vanilla, the wooden chalets, richly adorned with angels, conifer branches and Christmas ornaments. Transportation by train and rent a car.
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