BREMEN, Germany, May 20, 2015 – Santa comes but once a year as do Germany’s Christmas markets. However, if you wish to visit, the time to start planning your December visit is now.
This will give you plenty of time to start searching for the best deals on flights and accommodations in anticipation of next season’s festivities.
And trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Having become a long-standing tradition, many cities start preparing for eager crowds in late November. Lights get strung across streets, chocolate Santas are lovingly placed in window displays and craftsmen start assembling booths in town squares and along busy walkways.
Bremen is home to the Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Bremen Town Musicians) and the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a donkey, a cat and a rooster who all wanted to go to the Bremen to become musicians. Bronze sculptures of these animals (one on top of the other) can be found in many parts of the city and are an amusing tourist attraction.
Bremen has more than 160 Christmas stalls and stands offering cinnamon and hot mulled wine, fresh roasted almonds, grilled sausages, ornaments, candles and just about everything else you can think of.
Some of these stalls are directly in front of the 600-year-old Town Hall, which seems to be a focal point of shopping, farmers markets on the weekends and trams that fan out to all parts of the city.
As daytime gives way to evening, all the decorative lights come on, giving the entire Christmas village a romantic and festive glow. Crowds start to grow as people gather to celebrate the season. Families browse the booths or stop to chat with friends and sample some hot pretzels, beer or pastries.
Strolling around the markets taking photos and sampling the local foods, you will no doubt notice all the sausages, usually prepared over hot coals or wood. Here you can choose from a variety of king-sized bratwursts with a pint-sized roll to hold the meat. Add a little bit of mustard and your taste buds will come alive–just the thing for a crisp, cold evening.
Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, is a shopper’s paradise with hundreds of retail shops. It has 12 shopping malls and many streets closed to traffic. Famous-name brands such as Cartier, Bulgari and Armani are located in the Neuer Wall area, while Alster Arcade has a Mediterranean feel with iron balustrades, old-style street lamps and original buildings now housing all sorts of retail shops.
There are about a dozen Christmas markets in Hamburg. You won’t have to walk far, in fact, to encounter one laden with local crafts, toys and confections, including a market located right across the street from the town hall, established by Roncalli’s Circus. Young and old will enjoy the crafts, confections, toys and carousels.
Hot punch is served by up by circus artists, and the cups are meant to take home as souvenirs.
Even smaller towns go all out for the holidays. Located in Lower Saxony, the town of Celle was founded over 700 years ago and looks like something out of a storybook with its half-timbered houses, cozy fireplaces and brick-lined streets. Over 50 wooden houses are created in the middle of the old town selling all sorts of locally-made gifts while street performers wander about entertaining the crowds.
Celle is one town that has maintained much of its medieval charm. You won’t want to miss exploring the Ducal Palace with a Renaissance chapel, once the home of the Duchy of Lueneburg. This is the oldest building in Celle, and its walls date from 1292.
Germany is a country rich in historical and cultural treasures, and the Christmas markets are something you should see at least once in your life. But don’t wait until November; many people book their vacations early, and rooms sell out quickly.
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