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Travel Talk: Best Christmas Markets in Germany

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Travel Talk: Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Fröhliche Weihnachten! Christmas-shopping, Bavarian-style! Black Friday shopping madness has come and gone and chances are your home city or town has just hosted its annual Santa Claus parade or soon will. You've got gift-buying on the mind, and for many, that means marathon visits to the mall. But in other parts of the world, holiday shopping is an entirely different experience. Germany has one of the oldest and most culturally rich Yuletide traditions: the Christmas Markets. There are hundreds throughout Germany, which typically run throughout the Advent season, starting mid- to -late November and operating until the end of December. Legions of travellers visit Germany for beer tours, wine tours and food tours. So devising a tour of Germany with a focus on Christmas Markets is a great way to visit the country - and get your shopping done at the same time. Take your pick of five popular Christmas Markets in Germany. 1. Bamberg Christmas Market [caption id="attachment_7384" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Bamberg Christmas Market (Courtesy: German Tourism)"] Bamberg Christmas Market (Courtesy: German Tourism)[/caption]

Bamberg’s traditional Christmas Market dates back to the early 19th century and has grown today into a 2,000 square metre open market with 50 craftspeople and artisans selling  classic Christmas  candles, decorations and one-of-a-kind gifts - not to mention delicious foods such as gingerbread, nut bread, sausages, mulled wine and Bamberg Rauchbier (smoky beer).

Something a little different: walk th e Bamberg Nativity Trail, whose route takes visitors throughout various neighbourhoods of Bamberg with stops at 40 different nativity scenes.

2. Dresden Christmas Market [caption id="attachment_7385" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Dresden Christmas Market (Photo: Stefan Malsch)"] Dresden Christmas Market (Photo: Stefan Malsch)[/caption]

Erzegbirge Christmas Pyramids are a popular German Christmas tradition. (The spinning motion of the pyramids is created by the lit candles giving off heat and in turn creates a propeller-like movement above.) And the biggest one of all - at 15 metres - is in Dresden. It actually made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

[caption id="attachment_7430" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="Dresden's 14-metre Erzebirge Christmas Pyramid (Photo: LH DD Dittrich)"] Dresden's 14-metre Erzebirge Christmas Pyramid (Photo: LH DD Dittrich)[/caption]

While Dresden's locals love their Striezelmarkt in the heart of the city, there are many other Christmas Markets throughout Dresden to choose from. An estimated 2.5 million people visit the romantic Christmas Market of Dresden Altmarkt (Old Market) each year. And there's a special Stollen procession throughout the Old Town to celebrate the sugary, fruit-filed loaf-shaped cake which Germany has made famous. For something a little different - with a Canadian theme: Dresden's first Canadian steakhouse, Ontario,, right in the heart of the old city is the go-to spot for a home-cooked Canadian meal. It's also near one of the best photo ops in town, the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche).

3. Hamburg Christmas Festival [caption id="attachment_7386" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Hamburg Christmas Market (Photo: Holger Ellgaard)"] Hamburg Christmas Market (Photo: Holger Ellgaard)[/caption]

Hamburg Christmas Markets are the perfect venues for silversmiths, wood carvers, cookie-bakers. Seasoned Christmas Market fans give thumbs-up to the market hosted by Roncalli's Circus where clowns and circus artists serve punch to the customers! For something a little different: Need a break from the artisans' stalls and the caroling? Consider an afternoon boat trip around Lake Alster.

4. Munich Christmas Market [caption id="attachment_7387" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Christmas comes to Rindermarkt, Munich (Photo: Richard Huber)"] Christmas comes to Rindermarkt, Munich (Photo: Richard Huber)[/caption]

There are about 20 Christmas markets in and around Munich. Some focus on specific elements of Christmas. Krippermarkt, for instance, is a must-stop for those wishing to create their own traditional Nativity Scenes (Christmas mangers, cribs and dollars) whereas Tollwood, which takes place in tents at Olympiapark, has a noted international flair. For something a little different: The Medieval Christmas Market (Wittelsbacher Platz, close to Odeonsplatz) offers Gothic stalls, a Celtic Arcade and alternative entertainment. Visitors get to experience what a Christmas Market in Germany was like back in the 1400s.

5. Cologne Christmas Markets [caption id="attachment_7388" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="MS Wappen von Mainz, floating Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany (Photo: Gunmar Grimnes)"] MS Wappen von Mainz, floating Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany (Photo: Gunmar Grimnes)[/caption]

The Cologne Christmas Market offers 160 stalls where you can browse for pipe-smoking nutcrackers, nativity figures, pewter goods, or watch glassblowers, wreath-binders and blacksmith demonstrate their crafts. A favourite pastime for shoppers, of course, food-sampling. Nosh on famous “Christstollen” yeast cakes, “Lebkuchen” gingerbread cookies and marzipan which you can wash down with mouthfuls of “Glühwein,” the hot spiced wine. Kids will love skating on the Heumarkt Square ice rink. For something a little different: After you've visited the dryland Christmas Market stalls, board the MS Wappen von Mainz floating Christmas Market. Visit the German National Tourist Board to get started. What is your favourite Christmas market? Can it top these?
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Travel Talk: Best Christmas Markets in Germany

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