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Germany at Christmas time

Photo: Striezelmarkt 2019 in Dresden © Dresden Marketing 2019

Many popular Christmas traditions originate in Germany – Christmas trees, Erzgebirge carved wooden figures, Lauscha glass Christmas tree balls, Herrenhuter Sterne (colourful stars), Nußknacker (nutcrackers), Advent wreaths and Advent calendars to mention but a few… Christmas is also a very significant time of year for the German coach tourism sector – especially for incoming agencies, group travel organisers, accommodation providers, coach operators, tour guides, shopping malls and restaurants.
So what is the big attraction? Literally thousands of enchanting Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) with their historic carousels, yuletide pageants, arts & crafts and culinary delights – the most famous of these being Germany's oldest Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, the magnificent Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg and the Römerberg in Frankfurt am Main.

Every town and city has its own special attraction or memorable Christmas highlight – Kassel (Hessen), for instance, has the largest fairy-tale pyramid and Schlitz (also Hessen) the world’s largest Christmas candle. The German capital city, Berlin, has some sixty Christmas markets alone, the largest being in Spandau with a total of 250 stalls and stands. Cologne, with its magnificent Gothic Cathedral, is a magnet for visitor groups from the Netherlands and the UK in particular.

And there are so many exciting things for coach parties to see and do:

  • Stroll through festively decorated, brightly lit, pulsating and seasonally scented squares, lanes and thoroughfares with wafting aromas of cinnamon, aniseed, cloves and nutmeg.
  • Enjoy traditional delicacies such as Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), Bratwurst (pork sausage), Stollen (fruit cake), Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or Spekulatius (seasoned biscuits) – all washed down by a cup of steaming Glühwein (mulled wine) or heartwarming Feuerzangenbowle (rum toddy)
  • Followed by roast chestnuts & almonds, marzipan treats from the city of Lübeck, Frankfurter Bethmännchen or assorted chocolate-coated fruits.
  • Rub shoulders and mingle with the locals while listening to the charming sounds of hand bells, carol singers and loden-clad trumpeters. A special choral tip, the Weihnachtsliederabend des Thomanerchor Leipzig, in the Thomaskirche Leipzig.
  • Many theme parks are also open throughout Christmas, having been magically transformed into fabulous winter wonderlands, e.g. Winterzauber in the Europapark Rust.
  • Numerous high-profile winter sports events may also be incorporated into longer-stay Christmas, New Year and/or incentive travel programmes. A fine example being the spectacular Neujahrsskispringen (New Year ski-jumping tournament) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Germany’s Christmas markets have also become a big export hit, particularly in Great Britain – in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester and also in ‘Historic Rochester’ in Medway (Kent) – adding a new layer of magical experience to that town’s own thriving Dickensian traditions. Overall, a welcome boost to the incoming tourism sector and to local economies at this time of year.

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