Stripes Europe readers' favorite Christmas markets
Millions of tourists flock to Europe every winter for Christmas markets. While stationed here, you may need only to walk to your village’s old town or hop on the train for some hot, spiced wine, street food and booths brimming with glass ornaments, nutcrackers and sweet treats. Stripes readers have shared experiences at their favorite markets in Germany and beyond, so make a must-see list and count the days until the start of the season.
Trippstadt: The Christmas market located in Trippstadt at the House of Sustainability, also known as the Romantic Christmas Market in the Forest, is one of my favorite markets to venture to, and it’s one that I make sure to have my calendar free for! It only last two days, but it’s just magical. The setting of the market adds to the ambience. It’s located in the woods; there are fire pits glowing, and you have the smell of mulled wine and tasty treats wafting through the crisp air. In addition to the memorable setting, the goods offered at this market seem more unique and handcrafted, making them that much more special. You can taste local specialties that you may not find at other markets. Overall, it just seems far less commercialized and more intimate. – Hili Martin
Strasbourg: My favorite Christmas market has to be the Strasbourg Christmas market in France. I love how it is spread out across the city, so one isn’t left feeling overwhelmed by all the people that come to enjoy the vin chaud (framboise is the best!) and macarons. I stayed over a three-day weekend and was able to enjoy the city, a full day at the market, and the evening entertainments. A must for me every year! – Angela Gammage
Neuleiningen: Each Christmas market has something unique to offer. One of my favorites in Germany is in Neuleiningen, a local municipality in the Palatinate district of Bad Dürkheim. Easily accessibility from the KMC area, the Neuleiningen Castle ruin offers 360-degree views of the surrounding area. Unlike in major cities like Cologne, Berlin and Frankfurt, the Neuleiningen Christmas market is simple, rustic and has the feel that you’re one of the locals enjoying Glühwein (mulled wine), a well-known Christmas drink enjoyed by many Europeans and Americans alike. — Analiza Rush
Ulm: We have been to many Christmas markets here in Germany, and my favorite one is in Ulm. It is around the Münster, with all things Christmas (nativity scenes, clothes for dolls, art) — not just food and drinks. The Glühwein is excellent. – Gabi Stracke
Dudeldorf: My favorite Christmas market is in Dudeldorf. It is a small village about 15 minutes from Spangdahlem AFB and is so cute and quaint. Only homemade goods, like knitted items and hand-woven baskets, are allowed to be sold, so nothing is commercial. It’s small, not too crowded and has the best charm I’ve experienced in my three years here. It’s one weekend only, and definitely worth it. Fun for all! — Lydia Leasher
Nuremberg: The Nuremberg Christmas market is my favorite because Nuremberg is my home. Going back during Christmas brings childhood memories to mind. The market has traditions like no other Christmas market to me: the Christ Child gives a long speech, there are old-time horse-drawn wagons, and beautiful Christmas lights hang everywhere. — Christina Moore
Prague: I found Prague’s market in the Old Town Square to be one of my favorites because of the much-appreciated Christmas vibe I encountered while looking at the various booths. Although the market is beautiful during the day, the evening provides visitors with an opportunity to sip on hot chocolate and enjoy Glühwein, warm pretzels and bratwurst, while basking in the glow of the city’s magnificent Christmas tree. If you’re looking for a market that allows you to buy unique items, enjoy the holiday season, and have some fun, Prague’s Old Town Square Christmas market is something to check out. — Allie Smeeth
Munich: Tollwood Winterfestival in Munich is another favorite because it is unlike any market I have ever been to. The Theresienwiese fairgrounds (where Oktoberfest is held) are transformed with lighted tents and art installations. Inside the warm tents, you can enjoy exotic foods, while the more traditional market vendors are available outside. My favorite finds from last year’s Winterfestival include a chocolate Döner (made from a variety of shaved chocolates) and a lit Christmas tree made from green recycled plastic bottles. — Rebecca Utz
Regensberg: Christmas 2015 was our first Christmas in Germany. We loved the Christkindlesmarkt at Thurn and Taxis in Regensberg. It was open on (American) Thanksgiving Day, so we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends while we shopped, and it wasn’t very busy. It had unique merchandise, food and beverages — a great way to kick off the Christmas season. Looking forward to going again in 2016. — Sally Walsh
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: My favorite Christmas market is in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The town is incredible at any time of year, but it is magical when it is all decorated for Christmas! It is a medieval fortified city with ancient walls that can be walked, all while looking down on the many cobblestone lanes. The Christmas market there should not be missed! — Patricia Oglesby
Esslingen: In my opinion, Esslingen is the best Christmas market in Germany. It is comprised of both a traditional and medieval market in one picturesque location. The traditional market has all of the normal items you would expect to find, but the medieval market offers much more. Here you can take a glimpse back in history, all while shopping and drinking Glühwein! Esslingen´s medieval half-timbered houses create a unique and spectacular backdrop for a memorable experience at a truly German Christmas market. — Andrew McConnell
Nuremberg, Würzburg and Fürth: I really enjoyed the Nuremberg and Würzburg Christmas markets, but so many markets are focusing less on tradition and more on selling. Then, last year my friend took me home for Christmas to Fürth. The market has two sections, the old traditional and the newer style. I have to say I enjoyed the traditional style; I felt like I was back in the times of kings and knights. — Rob Lowe
Dresden: Dresden’s Baroque architecture provides an elegant backdrop for the Striezelmarkt, a traditional Christmas market. A giant Schwibbogen (candle arch) welcomes you into the market, where every booth is decorated to the max. Many vendors sell the classic Christstollen (a sugared fruit bread), which goes perfectly with coffee on Christmas morning. — Rebecca Utz
What are some of your favorite Christmas markets? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.