What are German Christmas Markets?

During the holidays, something magical fills the air in the cities, towns, and villages along the Rhine and Moselle Valleys in Bavaria, Germany. Throughout the four-week period of Advent, from the end of November to the third week of December, open-air stalls adorned with traditional Christmas decorations fill the town squares across the region and the world-renowned Christmas markets (Christkindlmärkte or Weihnachtsmärkte) open to the public. Each of the markets, set along a backdrop of medieval buildings and ornate cathedrals illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights, is unique to its location, but all abandon the commercialization of the holiday and highlight the true spirit of season.

At the Christmas markets, some of which attract millions of people each year, visitors will find a wide assortment of high-quality, hand-crafted gifts and merchandise, including marionettes, intricate carvings, Christmas tree ornaments and other decorations, and wooden toys and figurines. As you walk from stall to stall, you may find it difficult to resist the tantalizing aromas of grilled sausages, spiced mulled wine, baked apples, and decadent German Lebkuchen (beautifully decorated gingerbread biscuits) permeating the air throughout the markets. Other popular attractions at the Christmas markets include the nativity scene, figures made of decorated dried plums, and displays of carved nutcrackers.