There are a lot of things that the Germans have perfected; castles, bratwurst, beer, and cars to name just a few. We can also thank Germany for brightening the dark European winter with their twinkling lights, gingerbready aromas and warming gluhwein brought together in bustling Christmas markets - Weihnachtsmarkt. A winter trip to Germany is not complete without visiting the Christmas Markets to soak up the festive atmosphere and peruse the traditional Christmas gifts like Nutcrackers, incense smokers and hand-blown glass baubles. Most big towns hold markets from late November through to Christmas, and this Christmas Market Trail takes you through five of the finest.
If you're sceptical of the idea of a cold, white Christmas rather than a sweltering Aussie BBQ, some exposure therapy at Dusseldorf's annual Christmas markets should bring you around. The magical atmosphere is the perfect introduction to what these markets are all about, with old-fashioned stalls and a different theme for each market. Take your time and linger, and test your balance and agility on the towns' outdoor ice rink, set amongst the winter wonderland.
Cologne has seven markets in total, and the four biggest attract almost 2 million visitors each year. Check out the market at the Cologne Cathedral, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, which boasts the biggest Christmas tree in the Rhineland and over 160 festively designed timber pavilions. The nearby Market of Fairy Tales will transport you in to a Brothers Grimm adventure with characters such as Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin permeating the scenery.
A smaller market in a little town, this Christmas market in enchanting and cosy streets will be a change from the bustle of the Cologne markets. There is still plenty to enjoy for children and adults alike. From the big advent calendar with nativity scenes, straw covered walkways, and gifts for the little ones this market offers an insight in to the humble beginnings of some of the larger markets on the trail.
With over seventy ten-metre high blue and gold lit lillies coming to life every year, this market themed with the Wiesbaden coat-of-arms is particularly eye-catching. Get an aerial view of the town hall and market on the Ferris wheel, and if you have a hankering to improve your skating skills discovered in Dusseldorf, there is a huge ice and curling rink.
Frankfurt is home to one of Germany's oldest and most popular Christmas Markets and is the final stop on the trail. Held in the old town square, you are transported to Christmas Past with the fine touch of a vintage carousel. It is worth finding a guided tour of the market to find hidden gems amongst the 200 elaborate stalls. A panoramic view from the rooftop gallery of St Nicholas Church will give you an idea of the huge scale of this market, then work your way through and find one of Frankfurt's specialities, baked marzipan treats.Make sure you arrive before December 22 this year, as a Remembrance Day in Germany falls on December 23.
Get around Germany with your own car hire! Book online with Auto Europe or speak to our friendly staff on 1300 656 601.