6 unforgettable Christmas markets in northern Germany

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Explore the six best German Christmas markets in Northern Germany and get into a festive mood with this remarkable European tradition.

German Christmas market in Frankfurt.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

German Christmas markets are renowned across Europe — and for good reason. These festive markets are steeped in tradition and offer a magical experience that is truly worth exploring.

When you enter a German Christmas market, you are transported into a world filled with twinkling lights, delicious food and delightful crafts. The atmosphere is exciting and joyful as locals and tourists come together to celebrate the holiday season.

The scent of roasted currywurst, warm mulled wine and freshly baked German gingerbread fills the air, enticing visitors to indulge in the delectable treats. The stalls are lined with unique handmade gifts, from intricate ornaments to traditional toys, making it the perfect place to pick up a special present for loved ones.

With their charming ambiance and rich cultural heritage, German Christmas markets provide an enchanting experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Discover the top six Christmas markets in northern Germany, and explore everything they offer.

Berlin

The first stop in every trip to northern Germany should begin in Berlin. One of the country’s largest concentrations of Christmas markets is located in the capital, which boasts over 100 Christmas markets throughout its boroughs from November 25 to December 31.

Some of the most prominent of Berlin’s Christmas markets include the Charlottenburg Castle, Potsdamer Platz and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Other markets in the city offer a Nordic-Scandinavian experience, a nostalgic setting and more.

If you only have one day in Berlin, head straight to the Spandau Old Town Market. It features 250 stands during the week and 400 on weekends. It also offers a variety of entertainment, including a Christmas rock concert and a Christmas manger display featuring live animals.

Hanover

A German Christmas market in a city.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

From Berlin, make your way northwest, arriving at Hanover.

Here, make haste towards your first glass of Glühwein or red mulled wine in the Hanover Old Town Christmas market, any day from November 21 to December 22. The market features over 170 stalls offering traditional Christmas crafts, gifts and food, set against the backdrop of Hanover’s beautifully preserved Old Town.

Visitors can enjoy gingerbread, roasted almonds and other delicacies while strolling through the historic quarter. The market also features live music, and carol singing. Children can enjoy a ride on the traditional carousel or visit Santa Claus in his grotto.

Bremen

A German Christmas market featuring a grill with a fire on it.
Nordic Salmon at German Christmas market. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

One of the most historical German Christmas markets can be found in one of the country’s best-preserved cities, Bremen.

As an important maritime port, Bremen has some immaculately preserved medieval houses. The Schnoor, Bremen’s most legendary quarter, offers a glimpse into the past with its historic alleys and charming little stores.

Unsurprisingly, the Bremen Christmas Market is a must-see, with over 170 stalls offering traditional crafts, gifts and food.

When stopping at this market, do not pass a small stall covered by a haze of smoke and the most appetizing smell. There you will find a scene from a fairytale; a group of burly, plaid-dressed men roasting whole salmons arranged in a lean-to triangle shape over an open flame.

Every few seconds, a drop of juice drips down the salmon and onto the coals, making a lovely hissing sound that will make your mouth water. Queue in line for a generous chunk of Nordic salmon served atop steaming potatoes and covered in a creamy mayonnaise sauce with herbs.

“I love the smaller German Christmas markets… You can be sipping on a gluhwein with all the atmosphere of the bustling German market behind you while looking out at the illuminated castles dotted along the banks; it’s a special moment.”

— Mandy Applegate, Splash of Taste

Hamburg

After a magical day in Bremen, make your way northeast to Hamburg. Hamburg is often considered the highlight of northern Germany, a bustling city with endless options for nightlife, great food and entertainment.

The biggest Christmas market in Hamburg is the Hamburg City Hall Christmas market. This large market takes place over the main square in front of City Hall, offering a maze of little stalls that focus on fair, organic and regional offerings.

But in a city this big, there are three other Christmas markets and the most unique among them is Santa Pauli, Reeperbahn’s Christmas Market.

Located in the city’s infamous red-light district, this market is as different as you can imagine. It is filled with unusual themed Christmas gift suggestions that range from the raunchy to the gimmicky and is not a place where you would shop for your grandmother.

This market also has special musical performances and competitions, making this a truly unparalleled stop.

Lübeck

A display of heart shaped cookies hanging from the ceiling at German Christmas Markets.
Gingerbread Hearts at German Christmas Market. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Lübeck is a perfectly maintained medieval, Gothic paradise that offers a glimpse into German Gothic architecture. From the steeples of St. Mary’s Church to the arches of Holstentor, the city’s ancient gates, culminating in the cobblestone streets of its little alleys and enclosed yards, there is much to see here for the history lover.

The city’s illustrious history as a key port in the Hanseatic naval empire meant that its rulers and denizens had a lot of money, and the results of centuries of investment and mindful modern preservation and restoration are visible wherever you go. There is ample reason why the city is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lübeck’s Christmas market is one of the best, with a wood-fired oven baking fresh breads, a myriad of little handmade gifts and countless stalls serving all German delicacies. Try the ubiquitous German “eierpunsch” here, a concoction many compare to eggnog with its combination of egg yolks, white wine, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and citrus juice.

Potsdam

Potsdam is known as the home of the beautiful German palace of Sanssouci (meaning worry-free or no worries in French). Sanssouci was the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. It is often considered to rival Versailles, the French palace after which Frederick modeled his summer home.

Potsdam’s Old Town Historical Christmas Market spans across a long central street.  Like other markets, it boasts a diverse range of stalls selling Christmas food, drinks and traditional gifts. As a unique treat, families can enjoy the fairytale stage and Ferris wheel.

The historic Potsdam city center is also home to five other ethnic Christmas markets, from the Polish to the Dutch.

To wrap up

A young boy sipping from a cup at a German Christmas Market in the snow.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Northern Germany offers a unique and mesmerizing blend of festive activities and attractions anchored by its unforgettable Christmas markets. These six markets are merely a snapshot of what one could experience in this region during the holiday season.  Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a fan of craftwork or enamored by the holiday spirit, northern Germany’s Christmas markets have something for everyone.

Ksenia Prints is a food writer, blogger, photographer and recipe developer from Montreal, Canada. She blogs over At the Immigrant’s Table, a food blog showcasing healthy, beautiful international recipes for adventurous home cooks. She loves to highlight ethnic cuisines and immigrant cultures by working with chefs from relevant countries and adapting those recipes to gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, sugar-free and other dietary restrictions. 

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