Bavarian Christmas Fairs: Munich, Nuremberg and others
Bavaria's Christmas fairs

Bavarian Christmas Fairs: Munich, Nuremberg and others

Christmas fairs in Germany — Weihnachtsmärkte — attract tourists with the atmosphere of festivity and magic, the aromas of mulled wine and sausages. I will tell you about the most famous and magical Christmas fairs in Bavarian cities, which are worth visiting at least once in your life.

Each town organizes several fairs in different districts, and the biggest fairs are held in the central square, next to the town hall. They start at the end of November and last until Catholic Christmas. After Christmas, the festive decorations are taken down, sometimes as early as the next day — so it’s best to arrive before December 24 for the Christmas spirit.

The market sells Christmas tree ornaments and wooden toys — these are not Chinese plastic, but handmade items, so the price may bite a bit.

Hot drinks at the fairs are poured into clay mugs, which you can buy with a deposit of a couple of euros. The empty mug can be returned for a refund, but many people keep it as a souvenir.

Dates of Bavarian Christmas fairs in 2019:

  • Nuremberg — November 29 through December 24.
  • Munich — November 27 through December 24.
  • Memmingen — November 29 through December 22.
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber — November 29 through December 23.
  • Bamberg — November 28 through December 23.
  • Regensburg — November 22 through December 23.
  • Passau is from November 27 through December 23.

Nürnberg (Nürnberg)

Nuremberg is the capital of Christmas, Christmas markets have been held here since 1628. The Sun and The Telegraph recognize the Nuremberg fair as the best Christmas fair in Europe.

The fair is called Christkindlsmarkt («Christ Child Market»). The symbol of the fair is Christkind («Christ child»): every year since 1933, a young girl from the town is chosen for this role. The candidate must be over 16 years old, at least 160 cm tall and have an excellent knowledge of the history of the town and the region. She opens the Christmas market: the ceremony takes place in the town’s central market square, Christkind appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) and delivers the message of the Christ child to the residents.

On December 12, the traditional Lantern Procession takes place: about two thousand children, led by Christkind, walk through the streets of Nuremberg from Kaiserstraße to the castle, carrying homemade lanterns. The tradition began in 1948, when the city was still in ruins after World War II. The lights of the lanterns symbolize a wish for peace and happiness in the coming year.

View of the city from the observation deck
View of the city from the observation deck
A storefront that sells gingerbread.
A storefront that sells gingerbread.

Nuremberg’s Rathaus hosts an exhibition on the history of the city’s Christmas fairs. The Museum für Kommunikation offers a ride in a real postal carriage for 5 €.

Nearby on Hans-Sachs-Platz is the Christkindlmarkt children’s fair. A vintage carousel, a fairy train and St. Nikolaus (German Santa Claus) are waiting for children.

Market stalls are covered with traditional white and red cloth, garlands and decorations with the image of an angel — the symbol of the fair — are hung all over the city.

Bookstore windows are decorated in a very ornate way
Bookstore windows are decorated in a very ornate way
Another flavored gingerbread store.
Another flavored gingerbread store.

What to try:

  • The traditional Nuremberg souvenir is Nürnberger Lebkuchen gingerbread. The most popular type is Elisenlebkuchen. They are prepared according to a unique recipe, with a minimum of flour and a lot of nuts and spices. A box of gingerbread costs from 4 €.
  • Zwetschgenmännle (prune men): these are figures made of prunes, raisins and nuts.
  • Nürnberg sausages (or sausages) made of minced pork with marjoram — Nürnberger Rostbratwurst — are a must-try. They are served as a sandwich drei im Weckla («Three in a bun») — three sausages with mustard.
  • I suggest to wash down the sandwiches with rum punch (Rumpunsch).
Have a sausage and mulled wine.
Have a sausage and mulled wine.
All the stores and boutiques are decorating their windows for Christmas
All the stores and boutiques are decorating their windows for Christmas

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg ob der Tauber)

In Rothenburg am Tauber there is a Christmas museum (Weihnachtsmuseum) that keeps the festive spirit alive all year round. Here you can learn about the history of Christmas as a holiday and its traditions, as well as Advent calendars from different years.

The medieval town becomes the setting for the Reiterlesmarkt fair. Its name comes from an ancient Teutonic legend about terrible horsemen from hell who transport the souls of the dead. With the development of Christianity, the character was transformed into a kind and friendly young man who gives gifts to everyone.

On Friday and Saturday, access to the Town Hall Tower, which overlooks the entire Christmas Fair, is open until 8pm.

  • At the local fair, you must try Schneeballs, a treat made of strips of fried dough rolled into a large ball and covered with powdered sugar or chocolate.
The Nativity Museum is guarded by a large and rugged Nutcracker
The Nativity Museum is guarded by a large and rugged Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is one of the symbols of Christmas in Germany
The Nutcracker is one of the symbols of Christmas in Germany
This is what Schneeball looks like
This is what Schneeball looks like


A 26-meter Christmas tree decorated with handmade toys and 3,000 light bulbs is set up in the central Marienplatz square. The Chistkindlpostamt Christmas post office, where you can send a postcard to anywhere in the world.

More than 20 fairs are organized throughout the city on a variety of topics. The historic Kripperl fair is held on Neuhauser Street, where traditional cribs and creches are on display. Markets have been held at this location since 1757.

At the fair of creches and cradles for children
At the fair of creches and cradles for children
This is how the central square looks during the day
This is how the central square looks during the day

The Krampus race takes place in Munich. This is the evil helper of St. Nikolaus — he is depicted as a devil. About 300 participants put on scary masks, baggy costumes with fur on the outside, during the procession play the most noisy instruments — rattles, gongs, cymbals. A Krampus costume costs up to 2,000 €, and they are also very heavy — the face mask weighs almost 10 kg.

  • The 2019 parade takes place on December 8 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Theresienwiese hills are the site of the Tollwood ethnic festival. The program includes circus shows, acrobatic performances, theatrical performances and live music bands.

At the medieval market on Wittelsbacher Platz you can listen to gospel singing; at Stephansplatz you can see a pink gay fair and at Munich Airport (Flughafen München Franz Josef Strauß) there is a market with a real ice skating rink.

In the evening the Christmas tree on the central square shines with thousands of lights
In the evening the Christmas tree on the central square shines with thousands of lights
Christmas trees during this period are even in the windows of boutiques
Christmas trees during this period are even in the windows of boutiques
Huge selection of snow globes with figures inside
Huge selection of snow globes with figures inside
Participants prepare for the Krampus parade
Participants prepare for the Krampus parade


There is an airport near this city, not far from Munich, which receives flights of the Russian low-cost carrier Pobeda. You should not go to Memmingen specifically for the fair, but do stop by on your way to the airport or after your flight.

The festivities take place on the Market Square (Marktplatz). A special feature of the local fair is the celestial grotto. In a heated tent on the walls, scenes of Advent (as the German tradition calls the period before Christmas) are shown.

In the courtyard of the Antonierhaus, a Christmas creche with life-size figures of characters created by Memmingham artist Joseph Madlener is installed.

Many institutions hang a Christmas wreath on the door
Many institutions hang a Christmas wreath on the door
The fairgrounds are empty during the day
The fairgrounds are empty during the day
There are few tourists on the streets of Memmingen
There are few tourists on the streets of Memmingen
The Christmas Fair wishes you a good day!
The Christmas Fair wishes you a good day!


Bamberg’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter, it becomes especially charming when the entire city is covered in fluffy snow.

The Krippenweg (Krippenweg) is a path of Christmas creches — around 400 creches are displayed in 40 museums, churches, public buildings and private homes in the city. These are works of art in which ever-changing figures lovingly and warmly humorously tell stories about the birth of Christ, biblical subjects and local historical legends.

The traditional Christmas market is held at the Marxplatz, a medieval market near the Geyerswörth Schloss, and two other craft markets in the city streets. The festivities conclude with a concert by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

Beer bars are marked with funny signs like these
Beer bars are marked with funny signs like these
Bamberg produces smoked beer
Bamberg produces smoked beer
View of the city from the observation square of the castle
View of the city from the observation square of the castle
The historic buildings are painted very realistically
The historic buildings are painted very realistically


Regensburg’s main fair takes place at Neupfarrplatz. The local fair has been recognized as the most wonderful fair in German-speaking countries. At Haidplatz, visitors will be welcomed by artisans at the Lucreziamarkt market.

Many of the city
Many of the city’s historic buildings have funny signs like this on them

In the courtyard of St. Emmeram Castle (Schloss Thurn und Taxis) a Romantic Christmas Fair with a fairytale atmosphere is held. Princess Gloria will read the «Christmas Story» to the guests every day.

  • On the other side of the Danube, the Spitalgarten is also a fairground — a biergarten in summer and a tasting of regional specialties like stews and spiced beer in winter.

During Advent there are cruises along the Danube. The boats leave every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 19:00. The trip lasts about 90 minutes and costs 13.5 €.

Near the end of the fair, the world-famous Regensburger Domspatzen boys' choir performs.

Regensburg Cathedral
Regensburg Cathedral
At the city
At the city’s Christmas fairs: porcelain angels and lace ornaments made of wood


Travelers arriving in Passau will be taken to the fairgrounds by the Christmas Express (Weihnachten Express), a festively decorated tourist bus. The route passes through the historic center and traditional and modern baby cradles are displayed along the route.

  • The stop is located on Bahnhofstraße. The bus to the Christmas market leaves every 15 minutes. Tickets are sold on site and cost 1 €.

See the spectacular performances of the Perchten (evil spirits, analogous to Krampus). Participants in scary masks, furry costumes and chains give scary performances on Thursdays at 18:30.

Every Wednesday and Saturday at noon at St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Dom St. Stephan) there is a concert of organ music — on the largest organ in Europe. It is definitely worth hearing!

There are about 70 stalls in the square in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

  • I suggest you try the dense cheese bread with fried onions, flatbreads with toppings (similar to pizza — called Sengzelt) and chocolate-covered fruit.
The salesman gets lost behind a huge counter of dolls
The salesman gets lost behind a huge counter of dolls
The fair sells a wide variety of Christmas tree balls
The fair sells a wide variety of Christmas tree balls
Also lanterns, candle holders, and many other souvenirs
Also lanterns, candle holders, and many other souvenirs

Christmas fairs in Bavaria are very spectacular, not only in the big cities but also in small towns with a medieval atmosphere. The must-visit points at the fair are to buy a Christmas tree, ride the carousel, drink hot mulled wine and eat Bavarian sausages.

What you need to know about the Christmas period in Bavaria

  • Almost all cafes, bars and stores, including grocery stores, are closed on December 24 and 25. The only places to eat are Turkish kebab shops. If you don’t want to be hungry and disappointed, come a little earlier or stock up on food in advance.
  • The weather in November-December in Bavaria stays at +5°C during the day and -5°C at night.
  • The easiest way to start your Christmas trip is from Munich — there are direct flights from Russia.
  • It is convenient to travel between cities by train.

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