The aroma of mulled blueberry wine wafting over the Christmas markets at Nuremberg, Regensburg and Erfurt. helps make Christmas shopping there a delightful experience.
Shopping at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market
The Christkindlesmarkt beside Nuremberg’s gilded fountain has been at the heart of the city’s Christmas celebrations for 400 years.
On Nuremberg’s large market square, overlooked by the Church of Our Lady, St Sebald and St Lawrence, 155 wooden stalls decorated in red and white striped awnings are set up around a large nativity scene hand-carved in wood. Known as the ‘little town of wood and cloth’, the market is ablaze after dark with twinkling lights.
Christmas Trinkets at Nuremberg
On sale are traditional Nuremberg Tand (trinkets) – wooden toys, Christmas decorations especially hand-carved nativity scenes, sweet spicy gingerbread and Zwetschgenmannle (‘plum men’) made out of nuts and dried prunes.
For children, puppet shows, fairytale readings and music take place in the Star House nearby. There are also special activities at a Childrens’ Market on Hans-Sachs square.
Christmas Angel at Nuremberg
Everything starts on the Friday before the start of Advent on 1st December when a Christmas Angel, specially chosen each year, proclaims a festive prologue from the balcony of the Church of Our Lady.
Visitors can take a trip around the market aboard a horse-drawn vintage mail coach complete with costumed coachman and postilion rider blowing his horn.
Shopping at Christmas Markets in UNESCO World Heritage City of Regensburg
2000-year old Regensburg, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage city in 2006 for its mediaeval centre ( the only original one to have survived in Germany) stages two Christmas Markets.
One is held around the 500-year old Neupfarrkirche and in front of the classical columns of the city’s former guardhouse. Glittery Christmas decorations and traditional nativity scenes hand-carved in wood are on sale as well as toys and other Christmas gifts.
Christmas Market at Turn and Taxis Castle in Regensburg
Another Christmas market takes place a few streets away in the courtyard of the splendid 18th-century Turn and Taxis Castle where a fairy-tale ‘village’ of little wooden chalets around a Christmas tree is lit by lanterns, torches and thousands of candles.
Its specialities are local crafts, particularly items in wood and regional food such as tasty little Regensburger sausages served with sweet mustard. The local tipple is mulled blueberry wine.
St Nicholas Cathedral at Regensburg
Throughout the Christmas period, St Nicholas Cathedral’s famous boys choir, the Domspatzen (‘Cathedral Sparrows’), gives concerts as well as singing at mass in various churches.
There is also an exhibition of Christmas Cribs, modern as well as traditional, staged by the city’s Crib Association. Many now feature World Heritage motifs.
Shopping at Christmas Market in Erfurt
More than 2000 small chalet-style stalls cover Erfurt’s Cathedral Square, Dom Platz. It is an incomparably romantic setting beside the town’s multi-spired cathedral which stands on a rocky ridge above them, providing a dramatic backdrop especially when floodlit at night.
The market’s centrepiece is a 25-metre high Christmas tree placed next to a tall Christmas pyramid whose hand-carved nativity figures revolve. The pyramid is a feature of Christmas markets in this area of Germany where wood-carving has long been a traditional craft.
Christmas Tree Decorations at Erfurt
Visitors to Erfurt’s Christmas market will never lack for tree decorations again as the stalls sell a huge selection ranging from shiny baubles and colourful candles to glass animals and wooden nativity scenes.
For sustenance, the local Bratwurst sausages which are plump and spicy make the perfect accompaniment to a mug of mulled blueberry wine. Fruit Stollen cake is also a local speciality at Christmastime. And noone should miss a ride on the huge ferris wheel at the edge of the market.