8 Special Christmas Markets in Baden-Württemberg
What takes your fancy? Medieval or modern, baroque or family fun? SouthWest Germany’s Christmas markets cater to all. Find them on historic squares and in monasteries, in castles and stadiums. Sip mulled wine, nibble tasty treats, buy one-of-a-kind crafts and foods that are perfect for gifts. Join us on our tour through some of the best Christmas markets!
1# Lavishly decorated stalls, spätzle and a touch of Finland
Stuttgart's Christmas market is one of Germany’s largest and oldest. Spread out over several squares of the beautifully illuminated city centre, the market stretches from Königsbau and the baroque New Palace to Karlsplatz and Schillerplatz, with its medieval Old Castle, and on to the market square. The courtyard of the Old Palace twinkles with lights and every evening, you can enjoy free concerts of Christmas music. Just pop along! Wherever you walk, always look up because the Stuttgart Christmas market is known for its Budendächer, the imaginatively decorated roofs on each of the 300 stalls.
DO NOT MISS: The Finnish Christmas village at the far end of Karlsplatz.
2# Perfect backdrop for a Christmas and a medieval market
Just outside Stuttgart, on Esslingen’s historic market square, the Christmas market has 180 stalls. But there are actually two different markets. There is also a medieval market right next to the bustling Christmas market. Enjoy the real blazing torches and wood fires, instead of electric lights. The stalls display traditional handicrafts made by blacksmiths, glassblowers, book binders, and leather makers. Taste hearty traditional foods: hot mead, roasted chestnuts, hog roasts. Jugglers, minstrels and fire-eaters entertain the crowds on small stages. You can even learn ancient crafts, have a go at archery, or warm up in a medieval hot tub.
GOOD TO KNOW: Visit on weekdays, when it is less crowded. Esslingen is a 15-minute S-Bahn train ride from Stuttgart.
3# Christmas market and Chocolate Festival
In Tübingen, 30 minutes south of Stuttgart, the Christmas market is held in mid-December, on the third weekend of Advent. Well worth a visit, this historic town boasts one of Germany’s oldest universities (1477). The Christmas market’s great appeal is that it is so uncommercial, with local citizens, artists, and charities selling their home-made gifts and food. Alongside the market, the old town also hosts a wonderful event devoted solely to chocolate: chocolART. Part of the International Chocolate Festival Association, it has tempting stalls offering chocolate in every shape and form: handmade chocolate, chocolate tastings, praline courses, even special chocolate menus at local restaurants.
DO NOT MISS: The best view of the old town is from the Neckar Bridge.
4# Royal Winter Magic with a lot of illuminations, atmosphere and romance
When it comes to fairytale castles, Hohenzollern Castle hast to be on the top of your list! An hour southwest of Stuttgart, near Tübingen, this was the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern and the Prussian royal family. Perched spectacularly on a crag with fantastic views across the Swabian Alb, there has been a castle here since the 11th century. The Royal Winter Magic will indulge you with enchanting illuminations and festive decorations in the inside and outside. Stroll along the castle grounds and through the interior and let yourself be led away into the Christmas world of the nobles and royals, attended by contemplative sounds and the glamour of Advent.
5# Romantic Advent market in the Black Forest
The small town of Breitnau, about 30 minutes east of Freiburg, is famous for its Christmas market in the nearby Ravennaschlucht, the Ravenna Gorge. With the railway viaduct soaring above, there is a genuinely special and romantic atmosphere – especially after dark. The market is open on all four weekends in Advent. Explore the market with its handmade wood carvings and local Black Forest food; then warm up in the historic Hofgut Sternen, the traditional family-run inn next door. It has a guest list straight out of a history book, from Marie Antoinette to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
TIP: Walk through the Ravenna Gorge and arrive at the market at sunset.
6# Unique Advent calendar
What makes Gengenbach so special? After all, many Black Forest towns are delightful, with half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. But no other town can boast that it has the world’s largest annual Advent calendar. It is actually the Town Hall, where 24 backlit ‘windows’ provide the ‘days’ leading up to Christmas. Each evening at 6pm, everyone gathers in front of the 200-year-old baroque façade. Suddenly, the darkness is broken by blue, red and silver lights on the stone statues. A spotlight focuses on a single window; up goes the shade to reveal a new ‘window’ to the oohs and aahs of the crowd below. Over some 20 years, the windows have paid tribute to internationally renowned names. Finally, on December 24, all the windows are open: two rows of 11, plus two windows in the roof. The Town Hall, a ‘treasure chest of fantasy’, is the world’s largest annual Advent calendar. Add in music, mulled wine, food and games, plus the Advent market in the main square, and it all adds up to a wonderful family night out.
7# Elegant Christmas market
This Christmas market takes place in the Kurpark, right in the heart of the city of Baden-Baden. Against the backdrop of the Kurhaus, candles flicker and lights sparkle, while more than 100 beautifully decorated wooden stalls offer unusual local arts, crafts, and gifts. The aroma of mulled wine, roast chestnuts and gingerbread is tantalising. And there is plenty for children too: at the ‘living crib’, youngsters love to pet the sheep, goats, and donkeys, and they also love to make Christmas cookies at the children’s bakery. Every day on the open-air stage, there are live concerts and children’s choirs. To round off the day, relax in one of the two spas, with their warm natural mineral spring water: the ornate Friedrichsbad or the modern Caracalla Therme.
8# Christmas on the lake
The Christmas market in Konstanz is unique. Where else would you find a Christmas ship moored at the quayside, with a 360° panoramic bar and views of the lake and snow-capped Alps? On shore are 100,000 lights, 10,000 gift ideas and 160 tempting stalls. No wonder GEO magazine and the Frankfurt Christmas World Fair competition ‘Best Christmas City’ rated the market as one of Germany's top ten Christmas markets. But there is much more, from top-class classical concerts and cultural events to special exhibitions in the museums. Plus attractive WinterSPEZIAL deals at the fine local hotels. On the water, take an Advent cruise and indulge in coffee and cake aboard festively decorated BSB line boats. Nearby Mainau Island, known for its flowers, offers the warmth of the spectacular butterfly house and indoor palm garden. Spend time at SEA LIFE Konstanz, an award-winning aquarium. Or explore the backstreets of the city, with a guide dressed as a medieval knight!