• A special Christmas market for children is located right around the corner of the famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt.

    Kinderweihnacht in Nuernberg

    A special Christmas market for children is located right around the corner of the famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt.

  • As the days get shorter, Advent and Christmas markets in the area foster the holiday spirit.

    Weinachtsmarkt in Ansbach

    As the days get shorter, Advent and Christmas markets in the area foster the holiday spirit.

  • Bleigiessen is a popular New Year's Eve tradition.

    Bleigiessen

    Bleigiessen is a popular New Year's Eve tradition.

  • Sternsinger ring the door bell, sing a traditional song or recite a poem or prayer and write the blessing for the year above the front door with chalk.

    Sternsinger

    Sternsinger ring the door bell, sing a traditional song or recite a poem or prayer and write the blessing for the year above the front door with chalk.

Romantic Christmas Market in Anwanden, Gut Wolfgangshof
More than 100 crafters and vendors display their products in rustic huts, a cow stable, a grain hall or in a hay attic at the Christmas market in Gut Wolfgangshof (Weitersdorfer Str. 22) in Anwanden, a little town between Nürnberg and Ansbach. The market is open on Dec. 12 -- 14 and 19 -- 21. Opening hours are Fridays 3 -- 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.; admission prices vary from 5 euros for adults to 1 euro for children up to 15 years; youngsters under six enter for free. To learn more about the market, go to www.gut-wolfgangshof.de

Advent in Franconian farm houses - Bad Windsheim
The open air museum Bad Windsheim features "Advent in fränkischen Bauernstuben" (Advent in Franconian farm houses) on the advent Sundays before Christmas, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Experience holiday mood with traditional music, singing, storytelling, Lebkuchen, coffee and Glühwein. Christmas tree decorations, nativity scenes, wreaths and hand-knitted wool products can be bought on site. The advent event is scheduled for Dec. 14. To learn more about the museum and its events, go to www.freilandmuseum.de

Traditional Clothing, Franconian Style
Once a month tailors well-versed in the Franconian style of Trachten, the traditional clothing of the area, come to the Handwerkerhof in Nürnberg (Königstor) to exhibit, advise, measure and take orders for this popular style of clothing. The next occurrence of this event is Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Herrieden Christmas Market
The Herrieden Christmas market on Vogteiplatz, tucked in behind the main square, will take place on Dec. 19 and 20 this year. The booths, manned by volunteers, are arranged in a square around a large fire pit, offering food and beverages, as well as hand-made ornaments and other little decorations. The opening ceremony is on Friday at 5 p.m., when the mayor and the Christkind ring in the season together with the local children's choir.

World of Pipe Rock and Irish Dance in Hilpoltstein
Irish rock music is presented by "Cornamusa" in combination with an Irish step dancing show at the Stadthalle Hilpoltstein (Badstraße 10) on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. To learn more, go to http://www.hilpoltstein.de/veranstaltungen/world_of_pipe_rock_and_irish_d-111284-7844394/

The Nutcracker -- family edition -- in Nürnberg
Tschaikowsky's Nutcracker is performed in a version suitable for children four years and older at the Meistersingerhalle (Münchener Straße 21, Nürnberg) on Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. To learn more, go to www.meistersingerhalle.nuernberg.de

Ansbach Christmas Market
The traditional Ansbach Christmas market is now open until Dec. 24. The market is open daily, Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. -- 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. -- 8 p.m., but closes at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For more details, including an event program and a site map, go to www.weihnachtsmarkt-ansbach.de
A crafts exhibition in the Stadthaus (first floor, collocated with the tourist information office) features handmade Christmas decorations and much more.

Erlangen on Ice
The public ice skating rink on Marktplatz (between Paulibrunnen and Palais Stutterheim) in Erlangen opens on Nov. 26; the rink, located near the Christmas market, is open daily until Dec. 26; admission is free. Opening hours are Monday through Friday 2 -- 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. -- 9 p.m., Dec. 24 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Dec. 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more about Erlangen Christmas activities, go to www.facebook.com/erlanger.weihnachtszauber

Christkindlesmarkt in Nürnberg
Every year, Germany's most famous Christmas Market opens its stalls for visitors from all over the world, right in the middle of the city, on Nuremberg Main Market Square. And as every year, by Christmas Eve, more than two million people from all over the world will have visited the Nürnberg Christmas Market.
About 180 wooden stalls, decorated with red-and-white cloth, hold the traditional goods: Nürnberg Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Früchtebrot (fruit loaves), bakery goods and sweets, typical Christmas articles such as Christmas tree angels, cribs, tree ornaments and candles, toys as well as arts and crafts products. The Zwetschgenmännla (Plum People), little figures made from prunes, make a popular souvenir. Refreshments include, of course, Nürnberger Bratwurst and Glühwein (mugs of hot mulled wine).
Using public transportation is always recommended, especially on opening day. The market is about ten minutes by foot downhill from the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). It is open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., finally closing at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Detailed information in English can be found at www.christkindlesmarkt.de

Kinderweihnacht - Nürnberg
The Kinderweihnacht, a special Christmas market for children with historical carroussels, Ferris wheel, train, glass and candle workshops and Christmas bakery, is located on Hans-Sachs-Platz, right around the corner of the famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt. Opening times are daily 10 a.m. -- 9 p.m. on Nov. 28 -- Dec. 24 (closes at 2 p.m.). To learn more, go to www.christkindlesmarkt.de

The "Reiterlesmarkt" of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Once a year, the medieval town of Rothenburg is transformed into a winter wonderland during the annual Reiterlesmarkt; this wonderful Christmas market has been the highlight of the festive Christmas season in Rothenburg since the 15th century. Today the narrow and winding streets and the squares around the Town Hall, its archways and the market square are still lined with stalls where one can find almost anything associated with a German Christmas market: pastries, white mulled wine and handcrafted decorations.
Numerous cultural events are held in conjunction with the market. Daily events include a guided tour in English, starting at 2 p.m. at the market square, and a visit by the Weihnachtsmann (German Santa) at 4:30 p.m. Every day at 5 p.m. a new window of the "advent calendar" on the town hall is opened; a concert by a brass band follows at 5:30 p.m.
The Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt is open Nov. 28 through Dec.23; opening hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. -- 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. -- 8 p.m. For further information about the Rothenburg market contact the Rothenburg Tourismus Service on Marktplatz 2 at 09861- 404-800 or info@rothenburg.de, or go to their website at www.tourismus.rothenburg.de

Nativity Scenes in Handwerkerhof Nürnberg
Old Nürnberg crafts tradition can be seen in the Nürnberger Handwerkerhof (Königstor, next to the big tower across from the Hauptbahnhof) from Nov. 28 until Dec. 30, when the nativity scene exhibition is once again opened for the season. Small stores and craft shops offer toys, decorations and much more, while typical Franconian restaurants open their doors to the hungry visitors. The Handwerkerhof is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. -- 10 p.m., the stores open 10 a.m. -- 6:30 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is free. To learn more, go to www.handwerkerhof.de

Advent in the Nürnberg Zoo
Every Advent weekend and Christmas Eve visitors at the Nürnberg Zoo can see a live nativity scene with sheep and donkey, Mary, Josef and shepherds between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; a special booth near the Kinderzoo (petting zoo) offers Gluehwein, Kinderpunsch (non-alcoholic) and grilled sausages.
A lantern parade for children takes place on Dec. 13, starting at 4:30 p.m. at the main entrance (Adults pay 4 euros admission, children enter for free). A "Forest Christmas Service" is held on Sunday, Dec. 21 with meeting point at the main entrance at 4 p.m.

Stephansritt in Spalt
The "St. Stephen's Ride" is a traditional horse riding event scheduled for St. Stephen's Day, Dec. 26 in Spalt. The riders assemble in the Lange Gasse at 9:30 a.m. and proceed together to Wasserzell, where the horses will be blessed. To learn more, go to www.spalt.de

The Nutcracker- Bad Windsheim
The Russian State Ballet will perform the Nutcracker Suite at the Kur und Kongress Center (KKC), Erkenbrechtallee 2, in Bad Windsheim on Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. To learn more, go to www.klassisches-ballett.com or www.kkc-tagen.de

New Year's Eve Traditions in Germany
New Year's Eve in Germany is known as Silvester, named after Pope Silvester, who died on Dec. 31, 335 A.D. in Rome. Silvester is celebrated many different ways in Germany, but some of the more popular traditions include:
Bleigiessen ('lead pouring'): melted lead is poured into a bowl of cold water and the participants try to read their future in the shape of the cooled lump of lead. Melting kits are sold in any supermarket.
Feuerzangenbowle: a red wine punch prepared by soaking a sugar cone with rum, setting it aflame and letting the mixture of rum and caramelized sugar drip into the punch (don't try this at home, kids)
Superstitions: The motto is, "the way you start the new year, it's going to go all year."Old folks tell you to pay off all your debts to avoid accumulating new ones in the New Year; also, take down your laundry from the clothes line, as it may bring bad luck.
Food: On Silvester food is often served as a buffet, with lots of fish dishes, like salmon or cold herring salad. Restaurants offer special evenings with a several course dinner and champagne, sometimes a "midnight buffet."
"Dinner for One," a 15-minute television sketch about the 80th anniversary of an old British Lady, has become a more modern tradition among Germans, and it is shown several times on different TV stations. At midnight the stations do a countdown show and often display fireworks with classical music in the background.
Fire Works and fire crackers at midnight: Many Germans buy fireworks for the turning of the year, in fact this is the only time of the year they are allowed to ignite fireworks without special permission. The fireworks are only sold between Christmas and New Years Eve and should only be used around midnight on the 31st of December. Every year an estimated 100 million Euros is blown up in smoke for fireworks in Germany alone.

Nürnberg Silvesterlauf
The traditional New Year's Eve Fun Run in Nürnberg with races for all age groups begins at 10:45 with start and finish line at the Wöhrder Wiese (Prinzregentenufer - Erfahrungsfeld der Sinne). For details and registration go to www.silvesterlauf-nuernberg.de

Ice Rink in Gunzenhausen
Gunzenhausen has put up an ice skating rink on the Marktplatz; highlights include an ice disco and "Eisstockschiessen," Bavarian curling. The ice rink is open now until Jan. 6; to learn more, go to eisbahn.gunzenhausen.de

Three Kings Holiday
Three Kings Day or Epiphany on Jan. 6 is called "Heilig Drei Könige" or "Dreikönigstag" and is a holiday in Bavaria and Austria. Traditionally members of the local church community walk around to collect money for charity projects. The group is called the Sternsinger (star singers) and is usually comprised of four children or teenagers, dressed up as the three kings and a star bearer. They ring the door bell, sing a traditional song or recite a poem or prayer and write the blessing for the year above the front door with chalk. The blessing will always contain the current year and the letters C+M+B, which stand for "Christus mansionem benedicat," " May Christ Bless this House." (Federal holiday)

Page last updated Thu December 11th, 2014 at 09:14