There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Germany at Christmas. Stroll through festively decorated streets and explore the enchanting Christmas markets with their seasonal music and choir singing. Listen to the sounds of bells and trumpeters and attend one of the many concerts from classical to gospel in the churches and on outdoor stages.
Adorned with decorations and festively lit, the pedestrian precincts and shopping centres offer everything your heart could desire. The arts and entertainment scene also takes a seasonal turn in December: in Germany’s major cities, you’ll find everything from plays, operettas and musicals to spellbinding readings.
There are also numerous winter sports you can get involved in and high-profile events such as the New Year ski jumping in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You see, it’s not just Christmas trees and twinkling lights, Germany has something for everyone during the festive season.
A selection of impressive Christmas Markets:
Christmas Market in Dresden, Saxony
The Striezelmarkt on the old market square in Dresden is a thriving tradition that dates all the way back to 1434. Its name comes from 'Striezel', better known as the original Dresden Christstollen.
Every year, the Stollen festival and grand parade are held in honour of this famous cake: an enormous Stollen weighing around four tonnes makes its way to the Striezelmarkt where it is ceremoniously cut and handed out.
On its way through the streets, the giant cake passes Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House, Dresden Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady. A truly mouth-watering experience. The stalls are a treasure trove of traditional local crafts: carved wooden items from the mountain villages of the Erzgebirge, blue printed items and pottery from Lusatia, gingerbread from Pulsnitz, intricate hand-made lace from Plauen and advent stars from Herrnhut.
At the heart of proceedings is the world's largest Christmas pyramid in the Erzgebirge style. It stands at more than 14 metres and provides the setting for the pyramid festival, a singing contest with a seasonal slant.
Right in the middle of the city, not far away from the historic centre the Youth Hostel is offeringideal accomodation.
Youth Hostel Dresden, Tel. ++351 492620, Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.dresden.jugendherberge.de
Christmas Market in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria
Nuremberg is all abuzz during the festive season. The Christmas Angel opens the town's famous Christkindlesmarkt on Hauptmarkt square in the old quarter.
In this fine medieval setting you can enjoy authentic Nuremberg gingerbread, Nuremberg bratwurst and lots more besides. This delightful Christmas city with its magical atmosphere has so much to see, do and experience: enchanting Christmas concerts in the churches, traditional Nativity scenes in the baroque church of St. Egidien and in Spitalgasse, an exhibition of historical market stalls in the town hall, the Christmas market for children on Hans Sachs square and the 'star' theatre at St. Katharine's Abbey.
Other highlights are the international market on Rathausplatz featuring Nuremberg's twin towns, arts and crafts in the Handwerkerhof, a torchlit procession to the castle, the 'Christmas cinemas' and rides in a horse-drawn mail coach. The Christmas Angel appeals daily at 3pm from Tuesday to Friday and at the Christmas market for children at 2.30pm.
The Youth Hostel in Nuremberg is part of the 500 years old castle, landmark of the city. It has been recently completely refurbished.
Youth Hostel Nuremberg, Tel. ++911 2309360, Mail: email@example.com, Web: nuernberg.jugendherberge.de
Christmas Market in Münster (Northrhine-Westfalia)
Five Christmas markets with a total of 300 stalls transform Münster's old quarter into a glittering yuletide wonderland. At the largest of these, in the town hall courtyard on Platz des Westfälischen Friedens, you will find jewellery, handicrafts and food and drink stalls under a sea of twinkling lights.
Toys, all manner of festive wares and a brightly lit Christmas tree rising 18 metres into the sky are features of the illuminated market beneath the towering St. Lambert's Church. In the Christmas village around the Kiepenkerl monument you can tuck into local Westphalian specialities and browse for arts and crafts.
A beautiful Nativity scene and a large children's carousel are among the highlights of the market at St. Aegidius' Church. At the Giebelhüüskesmarkt (gable house market) outside the historical Church across the Water, you can fill up with seasonal fare.
The attractive Youth Hostel is situated at the banks of a lake within the city; the central area can be reached by a short walk.
Youth Hostel Münster, Tel. ++251 530280, Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: http://www.djh-wl.de/de/jugendherbergen/muenster
Christmas Market in Quedlinburg (Saxony-Anhalt)
Christmas is celebrated in true style in this 1,000-year-old medieval town and UNESCO World Heritage site. Attention focuses on the bustle and the lights of the Christmas market, with its array of beautiful gifts and its festival of food and drink. The sounds of seasonal music and organ recitals ring out from the churches.
Christmas music can also be heard every day on Schlossberg hill, when a new half-timbered house opens its doors to become part of the Quedlinburg Advent Calendar. No less fascinating is the 'Magic of Christmas', when shop windows across the town display a lovingly assembled collection of old-fashioned dolls' kitchens and toy grocery stores.
The Youth Hostel is to be found in the central area, near the town hall.
Youth Hostel Quedlinburg, Tel. ++3946 811703, Mail: email@example.com, Web: www.jugendherberge-quedlinburg.de
Christmas Market in Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein)
Welcome to the “Christmas Capital of Northern Germany”. There is a choice of eleven different christmas markets.
Moreover, Lübeck's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, invites the visitors to stroll and shop in top quality arts and crafts fairs. A cultural and musical programme will be performed in various churches, museums, the Music and Congress Centre, and other facilities.
Christmas market amidst a UNESCO world heritage
Festive Christmas lights, stars and beautifully decorated Christmas trees conjure up a magic atmosphere on Lübeck’s Old Town island and invite you and your friends and families to stroll around the markets next to the Town Hall, in the pedestrian area and on Koberg. The scent of honey roasted almonds, spiced wine, herb goodies and grilled sausages fills the winter air. More than 150 small Christmas stalls offer self-made wooden toys and Christmas tree decorations. In 1648 Lübeck’s Christmas market was mentioned for the first time in historic documents. Today the former “Queen” of the Hanseatic League is a UNESCO world heritage site with a unique, unforgettable atmosphere for a relaxed shopping spree (25th Nov. - 30th Dec.)
Handicrafts market in the Hospital of the Holy Spirit
Tradition, craftwork and culture await you in the historically unique Hospital of the Holy Spirit. More than 150 artisans from Germany, the Baltic States and other European countries present their most beautiful crafts in the Gothic church hall, in more than 100 small cabins in the so-called long hall and in the medieval vaults to show the great variety of new and old craft methods. No matter if you look for special presents, want to enjoy the celestial Christmas atmosphere or to admire the cabins, which were used as small living rooms by elderly residents until the 1970s you can perfectly start here to get the right Christmas feeling. In addition, the flavour of delicious freshly-baked waffles can be smelled throughout the medieval building. Music performances of choirs and orchestras which change from day to day accompany the pre-Christmas atmosphere. On weekends you might like to listen to the “Christmas and Advent stories” while enjoying a glass of wine or hot punch. This unique Christmas market is organised on a volunteer basis by the “Association for Women and Culture” and all the proceeds are donated to charity. (29th Nov. - 9th Dec.)
The Youth Hostels are situated within the central area of Lübeck.
Youth Hostel “Vor dem Burgtor”, Tel. ++49 451 33433
Youth Hostel Lübeck “Altstadt”, Tel. ++49 451 7020399