Santa at the Christmas markets
Christmas markets are one of Germany's most popular holiday traditions.

The holiday season in Germany is magical. Villages and cities alike drape their streets in garlands and tinsel, erect looming Christmas trees in market squares and hang wreaths on every door.

The Christmas spirit is never more palpable than at the Christmas markets, or Weihnachtsmarkten. A long-standing tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, the Christmas markets celebrate the advent and sell traditional German holiday trinkets, such as intricate nutcrackers, ornaments and artisan-crafted goods and jewelry. Of course, shoppers can munch on gingerbread, candied nuts and wurst as they browse the wares, or warm up with some spiced gluehwein.

Listed below are some of the local Christmas markets around the Bavarian Military Community and the Dresden market, known as one of the most beautiful markets in Germany. For a more thorough listing of Christmas markets, see Grafenwoehr's Weekly Newsletter.

Amberg
Nov. 29-Dec. 23: Highlights are daily live performances, a horse-drawn carriage, a live nativity scene, and a children's program. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. 1-8 p.m.

Auerbach
Dec. 1: The market starts at 2 p.m. in the Marktplatz.
Dec. 8-9: Up to 70 artisans display and sell their goods in traditional wooden huts at this Christmas market at the Mining Museum, or Bergbaumuseum Maffei. This market is ends with the traditional festive parade of former miners, illuminated by torches and candles. Open Sat. 1-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Admission is 2 euros per person.

Bamberg
Nov. 29-Dec. 23: Bamberg's Christmas Market dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. Nowadays, around 50 vendors sell a variety of Christmas decorations and treats, including lebkuchen, gingerbread, and Fruechtebrot, or fruitcake.
Dec. 8-16: Historical market in Bamberg at Schloss Geyerswoerth mansion.

Bayreuth
Nov. 30-Dec. 23: Over 60 stalls offer traditional Christmas market fare. The grand opening is on Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Dresden
Nov. 28-Dec. 24: One of Germany's oldest and best-known Christmas markets has taken place in Saxony for over half a millennium. The market attracts almost 2 million browsers every year.

Grafenwoehr
Dec. 8: The grand German-American opening is at 2 p.m., with the Christkind and the German Elementary School children's choir. Santa Claus and the German Nikolaus will visit at 4:30 p.m. and give little Christmas packages to the children. A horse-drawn carriage will roll through Grafenwoehr starting at 2 p.m. The market will last until 10 p.m.

Guteneck Mansion
Dec. 1-2 / Dec. 8-9 / Dec. 14-16 / Dec. 21-23: Children under 12 are free. Medieval and romantic, this Christmas market gives you the opportunity to watch craftsmen make the wares, listen to medieval musicians and watch dance performances. Fri., 5-10 p.m.; Sat. 2 - 10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Three euros per person on Fri.; 4 euros on Sat.; and 5 euros on Sun. Guteneck mansion is near Nabburg.

Nuremberg
Nov. 30-Dec. 24: The Nuremberg Christmas Market is one of Germany's biggest and most famous. The red and white stalls line the Marktplatz, their vendors hawking Christmas decorations, artisan wares, jewelry, food and gluehwein. Nuremberg also has a children's market nearby with rides and kid-centric activities. Mon-Thu: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.: 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Regensburg
Nov. 29-Dec. 23: Regensburg hosts a Romantic Christmas Market at the Thurn and Taxis palace on the Emmeramsplatz. Thousands of candles, torches and lanterns illuminate the impressive courtyard and surround an imposing Christmas tree. Regensburg has another Christmas Market at the Neupfarrplatz pedestrian zone where Saint Nikolaus makes an appearance every Wed. afternoon. Sun.-Wed. midday-10 p.m., Thu.-Sat. midday-11 p.m. Admission is 5 euros per person, Mon.-Fri. and 6 euros per person on the weekends. Children, 6-16 years, are 1 euro. Groups of 10 people receive one ticket for free.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Nov. 30-Dec. 23: Every year Rothenburg transforms into a winter wonderland at the Reiterlesmarkt Christmas market. This Market dates back to the 15th century and incorporates an old Teutonic legend. Before Christianity, the Teutons believed in a rider who would take care of a deceased person's soul. While the Teutons were afraid of this mystic figure, people in the middle ages saw him as a friendly messenger bearing gifts. A painting of this famous rider can be seen on the facade of the city hall.
The grand opening is Nov. 30, at 5 p.m. on the Marktplatz. Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Vilseck
Dec. 1-2: This Christmas Market is at the city hall on the Marktplatz. Sat. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 1-5 p.m.
Dec. 15-16: The Burg Dagestein castle's inner courtyard holds a market with varied booths and groups performing Christmas dances and songs. Opening hours: Sat. 4:30-9 p.m. Sun. 2-7 p.m.

Weiden
Nov. 29-Dec. 23: In Weiden's Altstadt, the Christmas market has been held annually since 1576. Today, it offers free entertainment at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Old City Hall. The City Hall itself is turned into an advent calendar. Opening hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Dec. 1-2 / Dec. 8-9: During these weekends, the Romantic Christmas Market takes place in the courtyard of the public library at Scheibenstrasse 7. Candles will light the baroque courtyard as artisans and vendors sell their goods. Entry is 1 euro per adult. Kids are free. 1-8 p.m.

Editor's Note: Silvia Wilczek contributed reporting.

Page last updated Tue November 20th, 2012 at 00:00