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Injecting some much-needed festive cheer into the winter gloom each Advent, Germany’s Christmas markets range from the tiny – a handful of decorated huts serving sausages and glühwein in a village square – to vast affairs sprawling across cities, featuring ferris wheels, towering Christmas trees, and life-size nativity scenes.

There’s general agreement on which of Germany’s Christmas markets is the oldest (Dresden) and the biggest (Nuremberg). However, whether any market is indeed one of the best Christmas markets in Germany is entirely a matter of personal preference – or how much glühwein you’ve drunk. The following seven might not be saved to everyone’s favourites, but they all offer something special enough to earn themselves a place on a ‘best of’ list.

by Christie Dietz

Best Advent Calendar: Gengenbach Advent Market

For over twenty years, the residents of Gengenbach have counted down the days until Christmas with world’s largest advent calendar. Every evening at the Christmas market, one of the 24 windows of Gengenbach’s town hall is ceremonially opened. Behind each window is an illuminated work by an internationally-renowned artist. It’s no small affair: Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall have previously contributed to the calendars. This year’s theme is paradise. The windows are by German illustrator Olaf Hajek, who has created artwork for famous brands such as YSL, Gucci, Nike and Apple.

2024 Dates: TBD
Advent calendar window opening every day at 6pm
Entrance: free of charge

Click here for more info about the Christmas market in Gengenbach!

Best Christmas Market Location: The Ravenna Gorge

For a truly dramatic Christmas market setting, head to the Ravenna Gorge. Here, 40 wooden huts selling traditional handicrafts and Black Forest delicacies cluster beneath the illuminated sandstone arches of the Ravenna Viaduct. What originated as a small gathering of local vendors has become so popular that it’s now a ticketed event. Tickets must be bought in advance.

2024 Dates: TBD
Entrance: from €5.50 (click here to buy tickets)

Click here for more info about the Christmas market in the Ravenna Gorge!

Ravenna best Christmas markets in Germany

© Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH

Best Medieval Christmas Market: Esslingen Medieval Market

Surrounded by some of Germany’s most well-preserved half-timbered buildings, Esslingen’s medieval Christmas market is regarded by many as Germany’s finest. Observe craftspeople in traditional dress blowing glass, join a bookbinding workshop, or try your hand at axe throwing. After that, enjoy a mug of hot mead and some hemp flatbread whilst watching fire artists or a falconry display.

2024 Dates: 26 November – 22 December 2024
Entrance: free of charge

Click here for more info about the Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market!

Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market

© Maximilian Schwarz

Best LGBTQ+ Christmas Market: Pink Christmas, Munich

Situated on Stephansplatz in Munich’s gay quarter, Pink Christmas may be small, but it’s one of the city’s most popular and most beautifully-decorated Christmas markets. Organised by the local LGBTQ+ community, but open to all, there’s festive food, glühwein and gifts plus a prosecco bar, DJ and live performances from travesty artists. On December 1, there’s also a special programme for World AIDS day.

2024 Dates: to be announced
Entrance: free of charge

Click here for more info about Pink Christmas!

Prettiest Christmas Market: Goslar Christmas Forest

Goslar’s Christmas forest – one of the town’s two Christmas markets – takes place in its historic old town. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its 1,500 carefully-preserved half-timbered buildings. As if that’s not enough, 60 large trees decorated with twinkling lights create a truly magical setting for drinking glühwein and nibbling on some roasted chestnuts while soaking up the festive atmosphere.

2024 Dates: 27 November – 30 December 2024
Entrance: free of charge

Click here for more info about the Goslar Christmas Forest!

Goslar Christmas Forest / best Christmas markets in Germany

© GOSLAR Marketing GmbH

Best International Experience: Christmas Market of Nations, Rüdesheim

The Christmas Market of Nations takes place in the historic wine-growing town of Rüdesheim am Rhein. It is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Spilling out of the town’s market square into cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses, stalls offer culinary specialties and handicrafts from all over the world. There’s live music, events including the St Thomas’ Night parade, and boat rides to the Christmas market at nearby Rheinstein Castle. You can even enjoy Rüdesheim’s market from above, glühwein in hand, on a cable car ride up to the Niederwald Monument.

2024 dates: 21 November – 23 December 2024
Entrance: free of charge

Click here for more info about the Christmas Market of Nations in Rüdesheim!

Christmas Market of Nations, Rüdesheim


Best Christmas Market Destination: Berlin

Dozens (and dozens) of Christmas markets take place in Berlin. From the intimate to the very large, there are markets along a variety of themes, and in all sorts of locations. Head to the family-friendly Scandinavian Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei for Finnish waffles and Swedish glögg. Alternatively, you can shop for sustainable gifts at the Advent Eco Market at Kollwitzplatz. Or stop by the Japanese market at Malzfabrik for Japanese dance performances, hot sake and karaoke.

Scandinavian Lucia Christmas Market 2024 dates: TBD
Entrance: free of charge

Advent Eco Market 2024 dates: TBD
Entrance: free of charge

Japanese Christmas Market 2024 dates: TBD
Entrance: from €13.50 (click here to buy tickets)

Berlin Christmas market

Christie Dietz is an award-winning food and travel writer from the UK, who moved to Germany in 2010. A regular contributor to National Geographic Traveller Food magazine, she also has bylines in publications including Food and Travel, Gastro Obscura and The Guardian. Website | Blog

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