Nuremburg vs Cologne: what's the most effective Christmas market in Germany?

What’s the greatest Christmas market in Germany? For these within the know, two names all the time crop up as can’t-miss experiences: Cologne and Nuremberg. 

We requested two passionate, native writers to persuade us that their hometown is the most effective place to expertise a little bit of Christmas cheer. So which is the most effective Christmas market in Germany (and perhaps the world)? Let’s hear the arguments earlier than you determine.

Why Nuremberg is the most effective Christmas Market in Germany (and the world)

Summer time Rylander has lived in Nuremberg since 2015 and thinks that prune males are actually what make her hometown’s market particular. 

Sure, you could find a Christmas market anyplace in Germany but when there’s one motive to make it the Nuremberg Christmas Market (Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt), it’s the prune males.

Susanne locations a plum man, a determine from dried plums, at her stand on the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt © Daniel Karmann / image alliance by way of Getty Pictures

This might be my eighth 12 months attending and I nonetheless get limitless amusement from Zwetschgenmännle; little human-like figures with limbs created from dried prunes. With walnuts for heads and figs for our bodies, they’re painstakingly accessorized to swimsuit anybody from soccer lovers to bread bakers. Prune males are a Nuremberg authentic and have been on provide right here because the 18th century, however native crafts and meals have been on the coronary heart of town’s vacation festivities since they first went on report in 1530

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Centuries-old traditions paired with world delicacies

Almost 500 years later, the custom is a giant a part of what makes Nuremberg’s Christmas market so particular. Wandering the wood cubicles that line the Hauptmarkt (primary sq.), you’ll discover all of the ornaments, jewellery, decor and trinkets you’d anticipate from a festive market — however you’ll additionally discover town’s centuries-old traditions. Nuremberg is well-known for its toymaking, a luxuriously spiced gingerbread known as lebkuchen and Nuremberg bratwurst. Sausage is out there year-round — that is Germany, in any case — however these little 7-to-9-centimeter brats by no means odor finer than after they permeate the chilly December air as a beckoning deal with between mugs of glühwein (mulled wine).

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Enjoying mulled wine on Christmas market
It isn’t a Nuremberg Christmas market with out toasting glühwein with mates © Getty Pictures

Common attendees all have a most well-liked outpost for his or her mulled wine, and mine is the Südtirol (South Tyrol) sales space within the Markt der Partnerstädte. The associate cities market is the place I most get pleasure from assembly mates to kick off a pleasant night of vacation cheer. We’ll every seize a steaming mug of glühwein, make a toast to the season, then meander across the cubicles representing Nuremberg’s many sister cities. That is one other Christkindlesmarkt unique; no different Christmas market in Germany dedicates area to areas all over the world as a approach to promote cross-cultural understanding and unity. With snacks and souvenirs from as close by as Prague and as distant as Shenzhen, it’s no surprise that this slice of the market has all the time been my favourite. 

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Hop on the U-Bahn for a quieter Christmas market

Nuremberg’s Altstadt (previous city) is undoubtedly the place many of the Christmas market motion takes place — pre-pandemic, our metropolis of 500,000 may swell to as many as two million this time of 12 months — however seasonal celebration could be discovered past the historic middle, too. Attempt a glühbier (scorching, spiced beer) on the vacation popup within the close by Gostenhof district, or take the U-Bahn practice simply 19 minutes to the neighboring city of Fürth, the place one other cozy — and fewer crowded — Christmas market awaits. 

The Nuremberg Christmas market is not any secret, however the bustle of exercise solely provides to the ambiance. Christkindlesmarkt is basically one thing to be part of — I stay up for it every year regardless of my basic aversion to crowds. Moreover, the place else may my husband and I discover the right prune man to foist upon an unsuspecting member of the family?

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Cologne is the king of Christmas markets. This is why

Cologne native Julia Floß adores the number of meals on the totally different Cologne markets. Right here she takes us on a mini-tour to get our mouths watering.

The folks in Cologne are fairly loopy on the subject of Christmas markets. Now we have 15 totally different ones everywhere in the metropolis and each native has a private favourite.

For Cologne inexperienced persons, the must-visit is the Cathedral Christmas market. Exploring the tiny wood stalls, you odor the sweetness of contemporary waffles. A choir sings ‘Silent Evening‘. Warming your palms on a cup of scorching wine, you search for on the monumental, black church. I’ve lived in Cologne for over 10 years and am nonetheless deeply impressed by that majestic constructing. 

Traditional Christmas market in Europe. Cologne, Germany
The very best view within the Cologne Cathedral Christmas market © Getty Pictures / iStockphoto

Christmas markets are all about custom, particularly on the subject of meals. When you‘re within the temper for a Cologne meals basic: strive the Reibekuchen (potato pancake). These crispy golden delights are product of grated potatoes, somewhat onion, some eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg and deep-fried. Apple sauce or sugar beet syrup is the right accompaniment, the bitter-sweet syrup matching completely with the salty, crispy, fatty pancake with a satisfying crunch. Mixing candy and savory is a really typical Cologne meals twist. These crunchy potato fritters are sometimes served with one other specialty from Cologne: flönz (much like black pudding). Essentially the most well-known dish from Cologne has a really poetic identify: “Heaven and Earth” (Himmel un Ääd) and comprises black pudding, potatoes and apples. Nothing screams Cologne greater than consuming that dish subsequent to the Cathedral.

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The place custom and modernity meet

Our second cease is close by: ‘Heinzels Winter Fairytale’ is the biggest Christmas market within the metropolis and within the coronary heart of Cologne’s Previous City. The beautiful stalls with carved wood frames promote antiques and hand-crafted items. The large ice rink on Heumarkt is a well-liked assembly spot however you’ll typically discover me on the big swivel grill within the middle of Alter Markt. No Cologne Creation expertise is full with out consuming grilled sausages, pork neck with onions or roasted mushrooms with garlic dip whereas watching novice determine skaters practising their pirouettes.

Now we take a brief stroll alongside the Rhine river to the Harbour Christmas Marketplace for Prosecco, prawn-stuffed rolls and a pirate ship bar. That is the extra fashionable aspect of town the place the fashionable Kranhäuser buildings perch over town’s panorama. My proposal: seize some Flammlachs (juicy salmon cooked over a beechwood hearth for a smoky style) and take somewhat stroll across the harbor watching the lights flicker on the river. 

Flammlachs fire-roasted salmon at Hamburg Christmas market
Salmon roasting over an open flame is the right Christmas market deal with © Elizabeth Beard / Getty

Cologne is the German capital of LGBTIQ+ tradition so in fact we’ve Heavenue, a gay-friendly Christmas market filled with sparkle. In case you are in want of a celebration expertise and Santa’s drag elves, this can be a nice detour.

The one market (and meals hut) you may’t miss

Sadly we don’t have time to speak about each Christmas market in Cologne however we will‘t miss this one: my favourite is Stadtgarten, a giant park in the course of town. The timber are strung with fairy lights and the little wood stalls promote designer objects and items made within the area. My go-to place is the raclette hut the place melted Swiss cheese is scraped straight from the wheel onto sourdough bread or potatoes. Full it with pickled greens and a thick slice of Black Forest ham. 

With meals like this and an enormous number of markets to select from, why would you go anyplace else for a Christmas market?  

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