Dresden has several Christmas Markets, from the very traditional to those with a more modern twist.
It may only be late summer but already the thoughts of many of Cities Direct’s customers are turning towards a Christmas Market break. I can understand their feelings very well. It’s always good to have a holiday booked and something to look forward to in the cold, dark winter months.
Dresden is not a particularly common city-break destination for travellers from the UK, but If you like Christmas, you’re sure to love Dresden at Christmas time! The city is home to eleven different Christmas markets. These vary from the traditional to a medieval-themed market to the Hüttenzauber market which has an après-ski feel about it.
The most traditional and biggest market is the Dresden Striezelmarkt which will run from 29th November to 24th December in Altmarkt Square in the heart of the historic city centre. It claims to be Germany’s oldest Christmas Market with a very long history dating back to 1434. Its name derives from Hefestriezel, a sweet delicacy which is now known as “Dresden Christstollen” (German Christmas Cake. Over the centuries the Striezelmarkt has become a major national event with 250 stalls. It spreads further out from Altmarket Square and takes up a large part of Dresden city centre. It attracts around 3 million visitors a year from all over the world.
One of the best-known features of the Striezelmarkt is a huge Christmas arch. This was originally made of metal but is now usually a wooden arch decorated with candles and figures. According to local folklore, this stems from the candles that the miners would hang from the entrance to the mine on the last working day before Christmas. On weekends in Advent special events take place, such as the Dresden Stollen Festival and the Pyramid and Christmas Arch Festival. At the centre of the Striezelmarkt stands a 20 metre high spruce, brought from the nearby Tharandt woods and decorated with lights.
Other Christmas Markets in Dresden which are well worth visiting are the market which is held around the famous Frauenkirche church, the nearby Christmas Market on the Neumarkt and the Winter Lights Market which can be found in one of Dresden’s most popular shopping streets which runs between the city centre and the main railway station. The centrepiece of this market is a 15 metre high Christmas tree.
Visitors to the Dresden Christmas Markets come to buy traditional wooden figures, candleholders, gingerbread, glass tree decorations and particular Dresden specialities such as the “Pflaumentoffel”, a chimney-sweep figure made of dried prunes. Visitors can also watch the carvers, glass-blowers and bakers in action. The stalls will also do a roaring trade in mulled wine. I can imagine the wonderful sights and smells of the markets as I write this blog!