The Christmas Markets of Mainz and Wiesbaden
Lights twinkling above the beloved holiday stands, the Tannenbaum (Christmas tree) adorned with red and gold ornaments, the aroma of roasted chestnuts filling the air and a cup of Glühwein warming up your cold, almost numb hand — nothing puts us more in a holly, jolly mood than Germany’s famous Christmas markets. The Mainz and Wiesbaden Christmas markets, in particular, know just how to transform even the Scrooges into Buddy the Elf.
Creating an atmosphere that can only be described as magical and festive, the Mainz Christmas market is set in the historical area of the city’s 1000-year-old St. Martin’s Cathedral. One hundred jovial and brightly lit stands blanket the city and provide opportunities to do some last-minute Christmas shopping or even buy souvenirs for loved ones back home.
Speaking of shopping, head to Kirschgarten, Mainz’s historic city center, which is thoughtfully decorated in all things Christmas and alit with beautiful lights. Also, be sure not to miss the 11-meter high Christmas pyramid upon entering the market as well as a hand-carved, life-sized nativity scene in front of Gotthard Chapel of St. Martin’s Cathedral. In this cathedral, several concerts will be performed.
Considered to be the traditional cultural event, the Staatstheater Mainz will also be performing a Christmas spectacle that even Santa will be proud of!
In front of the printing shop of the Gutenberg Museum, the Mainzer Weihnachstdorf, or Christmas village, provides an option for a large group to gather around in a Christmas barrel and hut surrounded by a festive campfire. Be sure to reserve early as there is high demand.
To see more Christmas festivities sprinkled in Mainz, head to the Schillerplatz and Neubrunnenplatz to enjoy Christmas décor, lights and an overall joyous spirit. The Mainz market opens Nov. 28 and runs until Dec. 23. Sunday through Thursday the hours are 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays the market stays open until 9 p.m.
Know before you go
- Public transportation is best, especially if you have plans to eat, drink and be merry... with Glühwein. The Christmas market can be reached via the Mainz public transport company (MVG).
- Dress appropriately and bundle up! Being out in the cold for several hours will have you feeling like Frosty the Snowman so be sure to invest in warm gloves and layer up!
- As a gift, the city offers parking hours and you can receive a parking voucher at several shops in the city center, depending on your purchases at these shops.
Things to see outside the market
Aside from the famous cathedral where the market takes place, Mainz is also home to the Gutenberg Museum which commemorates Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press.
If you’re a fan of the Roman history, check out the Museum of Ancient Seafaring where well-preserved remains of Roman warships are waiting for their story to be told.
Haven’t had your fill of welcoming this joyous season? The Wiesbaden Christmas market, just 22 minutes away from Mainz, lets you spread Christmas cheer even more!
Known as The Twinkling Star Christmas Market, or Sternschnuppenmarkt, Wiesbaden knows how to make the Yuletide gay and get us excited for that special day in December. The market is located on the Schlossplatz between the Rathaus and the Stadtschloss. This market highly raves that it was voted “No. 1” in recent years. With colorfully lit stages, Christmas décor that looked like Santa’s elves had done the job and friendly vendors, it’s not hard to see why. Don’t forget to marvel at their unique display of over seventy 10-meter high blue and golden lit lilies coming to life above the Schlossplatz!
Seeing colorful Christmas lights should be admired from up above as well, so head to the platform of the Market Church to see festive lights and holidays displays. From here, you can even see Frankfurt’s skyline!
The Wiesbaden Ferris wheel also provides its guests with a fantastic view of the illuminating and jolly market.
If the young ones are eager to try ice skating, head to the ESWE-Eiszeit, an ice skating rink at the Warmer Damm which is a mere 6-minute walk from the market is only. At this rink, two Alpine chalets will also be provided to accommodate small and large functions, perfect for entertaining groups of friends.
The market opens on Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 23. Monday through Thursday the hours are 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays the market closes at 9:30 p.m. On Sundays you can eat, drink and be merry from noon until 9 p.m.
Know before you go
- Originating from nearby Frankfurt, try Bethmänchen, marzipan decorated with almond slices.
- At 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., you can enjoy listening to German Christmas carols in the tower of the Market Church
- To sound like a local, wish Germans a “Frohe Weihnachde und e guude Rudsch.”
- Tour the famous market with a short walking tour that hits all the major market highlights. These tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and cost 7 euros per person.
Things to see outside the market
The capital of Hesse offers fun activities other than its beautiful Christmas markets so explore Wiesbaden’s main spa building known as the Kurhaus. This neoclassical building has many Art Nouveau touches which can be seen in the glass dome.
A Russian Orthodox church is a rare sighting in Germany, but the Neroberg makes it seem as if you were in Russia with its ornate golden onion dome. Inside the church, you can view the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhalovna, wife of Duke Adolf of Nassau’s tomb.
If your children enjoy the zoo, treat them to the Tier und Pflanzenpark Fasanerie. The hunting lodge, built in the 1740s, also houses a restaurant as well as exotic specimens such as Spanish fir, the thickest sequoia in Germany and of course, wild boar, barn owls and other creatures.
This Christmas season, take part of the magic that German Christmas markets offer. The markets are not only there to sell spiced mulled wine, Lebkucken and presents, but it gathers us as a community to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Frohe Weihnachten!
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