The city of Munich really comes alive at Christmas Market time
Munich is a very popular destination for visitors in the month of December and the city’s hotels are almost fully booked for the whole period, especially over weekends. I was lucky enough to spend the first weekend in December staying in the city and sampling the many attractions the city has to offer at this time of year.
Munich’s main Christmas Market, and the one most visited by tourists, is held in and around the Marienplatz in the heart of the city centre. This historic market – in German Weihnachtsmarkt – dates back to the 17th Century. Attractive stalls sell a huge variety of traditional Christmas gifts such as delicate Christmas tree ornaments, candles of every possible shape and size and Bavarian wood carvings. A number of stalls also keep visitors well supplied with food including local frankfurters, pancakes and fleckerl which are small pizza-like bases with various toppings such as cheese and ham and which make ideal street food. It wouldn’t be a German Christmas market without having numerous stalls selling Glühwein (mulled wine). The tasty hot wine is sold in small decorated mugs. You can either keep the mug after you have drunk the mulled wine, or return it to the stall and claim the deposit back.
It’s well worth sampling more than just the Marienplatz market though. There are many other markets throughout the city and each one has its own distinct atmosphere and style. Also in the centre in the courtyard of the Residenz palace is a small but charming market. Here can be found not only stalls selling traditional ornaments and food and drink, but also stalls aimed mostly at children depicting Christmas scenes including one with a large moose’s head talking and singing songs!
One market you could spend many hours visiting, and which is mainly frequented by locals, is called Tollwood and can be found on the Theresienwiese, the site of the Oktoberfest. This is a huge market, with stalls both outside and in giant tents, selling all kinds of things including the same food and drink specialities as the other markets, and also hats, scarves, jewellery, wonderful glasswares and all sorts of expensive handmade items and keepsakes.
There are also markets in more suburban parts of Munich, selling fewer souvenirs but plenty of Christmas presents and of course food and drink, especially the ubiquitous mulled wine.
I shall remember my visit to the Munich Christmas Markets for a long time. The atmosphere in the city really is electric, especially as night falls and the lights of the markets shine brightly through the darkness and the smells and sounds add to this very special experience.