Unthinkable for Germans would be Christmas without Christmas Markets starting in the Advent season. Over 130 towns host such a festive market, each one emphasizing regional specialties and flair. Mark those dates in your calendar and join in the most romantic, not to be missed festivities.

Be it in the old Hanseatic Cities of Rostock, Lübeck, Hamburg ao mua thu, Lüneburg or Bremen or further inland, all Christmas Markets hold their own charm and characteristics, staged in the most beautiful historical setting of each city. Ever growing in popularity, national and international guests are amongst their many visitors, each and everyone enjoying the smells, tastes, sights and sounds to remember.

Rostock, the almost 800 year old Hanseatic Town, has retained much of its original charm and is home to a diverse cultural scene. This cosmopolitan university- and port-town has a Historical Center with typical northern-style German brick architecture and a maritime atmosphere. Once a year, the twinkling glitter of the Christmas lights glow along the River Warnow and the Baltic Sea and transform the Historic City Center of Rostock into the largest, and one of the most gorgeous Christmas Markets in the North of Germany. Here, Father Christmas traditionally arrives in the town harbor by boat to open the Christmas Market. Northern specialties include candied apples, deep-fried bananas, candy floss, baby doughnuts, burnt almonds, Glögg, a sort of Swedish mulled wine and biscuits from Sweden; smoked sausages from Rostock, smoked fish from Warnemünde and north German fried fish in batter.

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The entire oval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lübeck is nowadays a modern trading port and, via the coastal resort of Travemünde, a terminal for ferries to and from Scandinavia and the Baltic. A stroll around the Christmas-Fair area, which was first mentioned in 1648, is an absolute Must-Do for all Lübeck visitors. The market and its some 400 merchants offer toys and Christmas decoration, gingerbread, hot spiced wine and plenty of other things.

The Historic Christmas Fair at the foot of St. Mary’s Church makes visitors travel through time; medieval flair unfolds amidst modern Lübeck. (Open 26.11-23.12). The Crafts Fair at St. Peter’s offers with over 50 craftsmen and -women from Northern Germany a wide variety of traditional and contemporary gift ideas. (Open 27.11-14.12). The arts and crafts market inside the festively decorated church-hall and in the small cabins of the long hall of the medieval Hospital of the Holy Spirit is unique! The exhibitors come from all over Germany and Northern Europe. (Open 28.11-08.12). Of course, Christmas in Lübeck would not be complete without a visit to the Christmas Bazaar at Niederegger’s, where you can taste famous marzipan cake, a delicious gateau with a rich nut brittle cream and a thin coat of marzipan.

The Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany’s second largest metropolis and is home to one of Europe’s largest ports. There is a taste of far-away places throughout the city, even in the little canals and waterways of the old warehouse district. During Advent, Hamburg’s Town Hall provides the grand setting for the city’s most charming Christmas Market. One hundred merchants will set up their shops on Hamburg’s largest Urban Square. Roast apples, hand-crafted items and the quaint cottages designed by Bernhard Paul, director of the famed nostalgic Circus Roncalli, set this Christmas Market apart from seasonal activities elsewhere. Here you will find hand-crafted Christmas decorations from the Erzgebirge region, wood carvers from Tyrol, bakers from Aachen producing their famous Printen-Cookies on the scene, Gingerbread makers from Nuremberg and pottery from the Lausitz region. Silversmiths and many other artisans and craftsmen invite you to marvel, join in, taste and enjoy. New is the Nordic Lane, a tribute to Hamburg’s traditionally close ties to the countries of Scandinavia and the Baltic region. Santa Claus is riding up to the sky above the roofs of the market cottages in his reindeer sleigh.

Lüneburg is located on the edge of the Lüneburger Heath between Hamburg and Hannover. In the middle ages salt, the so called white gold, made Lüneburg a very prosperous town; this is still evident today as most of its magnificent and historic buildings are intact and in their former glory. This ancient salt-trading and Hanseatic Town has a romantic Christmas Market atmosphere, with Christmas lights showing its gabled houses and medieval churches in the most beautiful light. Booths decorated on Brothers Grimm Fairy-tale themes transform Lüneburg’s pedestrian streets into a magical fairy-tale world. A daily special and changing Christmas program starts from 4pm daily.

Bremen, 37 miles from the mouth of the River Weser and Germany’s oldest Maritime City, has held markets since 965, joined the Hanseatic League in 1358 and began to trade with America in 1783. Cotton and coffee gave its citizens a rich living. Bremen’s atmospheric Christmas Market is considered to be one of the most attractive in Germany. With the Town Hall and the Roland Statue as its backdrop and over 170 festively decorated stalls, it is perfect for browsing. Bremen also has another Christmas attraction, the Schlachte-Magic on the popular River Weser embankment. Each day on the maritime promenade another little door is opened to reveal a special surprise, like a walk-through Advent Calendar. There are many experiences to choose from, Christmas brunch on the Weser, a Christmas tree expedition, some seriously strong hot punch and a real Dutch Sinter Klaas on board a pirate ship. The aroma of steaming mulled wine, baked apples and cinnamon stars lies heavy in the air, while softly the most beautiful Christmas carols ring out in the background.