For many of us, the most wonderful time of the year starts the end of November, when the Christmas markets open in Germany. They are marked by the smells of anise, potato pancakes, lebkuchen (gingerbread) and glühwein (mulled wine) and a surrounding of festive lights.
This year, four of us from German Pulse flew to Mainz to visit a few of the neighboring Weihnachtsmarkts. We enjoyed some of the best moments of this year’s events and indulged in a well-deserved Christmas break. Is was a great way to put us all in the mood for this festive season.
Below you will find the highlights and reviews of the 4 markets we visited. Given the variety of Christmas markets in Germany, if you have a personal favorite that you have visited, we would love to hear from you. Who knows, we may include it in next year’s visit.
The Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt, with over 200 years of tradition, is located in front of the St. Martins Cathedral (Dom) and is referred to as the Nikolose Markt. The first “must visit” is the Glühwein stand In-Treff. German Pulse is rankin them #1 for their hot Kirschwein “cherry wine”, which is naturally sweet, with a hint of tartness and it will have you coming back for more. Be sure to visit them on Facebook.
Not far from “In-Treff” are the top ranking potato pancakes, known for their perfect steaming hot crunch and well-rounded taste. Grab an order of 3 with applesauce as you head over to sit around the large fire pit.
Over all, the Mainzer Weichnachtsmarkt is a manageable size ranking #1 for Gemütlichkeit. If you need a place to stay or would like a special dinner, visit Bed and Breakfast Hotel Zur Birke in Hechtsheim, Mainz for a first class experience.
The Wiesbadener Sternschnuppenmarkt, “Twinkling Star Christmas Market,” is located at the Schlossplatz between the Rathaus and the Stadtschloss. The sea of lights, sounds and scents will inspire all of your senses. After you pass through one of four large illuminated gates, make your way over to the nativity scene made up of life-size wooden figures.
Wiesbaden boasts a variety of entertaining programs and music venues for everyone to enjoy. The culinary must have is definitely the #1 rated mushrooms. Grab a bowl of these mushrooms smothered in sautéed onions and a delicious cream sauce. If you are passing through the Wiesbaden train station, stop and have a Nutella crepe, they are the best ones around.
Weihnachtsmarkt in Frankfurt
The Weihnachtsmarkt in Frankfurt is one of the oldest and largest in Germany with over three million people in attendance yearly. It is located between Römerberg and the historic St. Paul’s Church, which provide a picturesque backdrop. You will need an entire day to navigate through the many booths since you will find they spill over to side streets and other squares, in all directions. In Frankfurt you will find Glühwein, potato pancakes, with a hint of nutmeg and a bit more onion, homemade soups, and even some booths with Mexican fare and corn on the cob. A must try are the delicious apple fritters made with lightly battered apples dusted in cinnamon sugar.
The South Hessian city of Darmstad has a smaller Christmas market, but ranks number one for “most shop-able”. The Darmstädter Weihnachtsmarkt is located on the historic market square in front of the Royal Palace and on Peace Square with easy access from the train station. If you are feeling a bit under the weather, the hot wine, 1/2 cherry and 1/2 honey, is just what you need to perk up. A bit lighter than the traditional Glühwein, Imker Honigwein is a must try. If you want to take a load off your feet, head over to the Ratskeller where you can enjoy traditional German fare while you warm up. Tables may say “reserved”, but just ask since they will let you sit at one as long as you leave prior to the reservation time, which is usually 8pm.
The Advent and Christmas season is a very reflective time of year where we can reminisce and yet anticipate the things to come. There are remarkable Weihnachtsmarkts all over Germany and we will review different ones each season, covering some of the outstanding unique features of each one. And remember to let us know which ones are your favorites so we can add it to our list for 2013.
Photos by German Pulse and Ting Chen, Wing, Kay Gaensler, & dtietze1 via Flickr