Bamberg in Germany’s Upper Franconia has wowed visitors with its picturesque Old Town for centuries. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the city twinkles with lights when several Christmas markets move onto the town squares and spread a festive flair. Cities nearby also join in for the Christmas fun. Here are seven Christmas markets in and around Bamberg that are not to be missed.
Bamberg’s largest Christmas market takes up the 2.000 square metres of Maxplatz at the heart of the Old Town. The air smells of freshly baked gingerbread and mulled wine, and exhibitors honour the tradition that dates back to the 19th century with a display of traditional handcrafted goods. For more festive flair, venture out into the Old Town alley and browse the local shops and boutiques.
Bamberg, im Sand
On the first weekend in December, the Christmas market around the Elisabeth Church attracts fans of handmade products. Set at the foot of the medieval church, the market has been praised for its snug and homely atmosphere. Less than 30 vendors gather to present traditional arts and crafts from the region, a highlight being the blacksmith’s show that allows you to peek over his the shoulder.
The Lichtenfels Christmas market is an event for the whole family. Traditional German foods and handicrafts are a given, but the events hold some fun entertainment for the little ones as well, including a fairytale forest with a toy train. An evening of Christmassy feasting and shopping is accompanied by Christmas carols, choirs and bands that take over the stage.
In the Advent season, the Schweinfurt town square transforms into a jovial Christmas market. Wooden huts form a festive village in the midst of the historic townhouses, all illuminated by Christmas lights. The Renaissance-style City Hall delivers the perfect backdrop for an evening of browsing for ceramics, jewellery, glass art, Christmas décor and gifts for friends and family. If all that makes you hungry, treat yourself to some Franconian culinary specialities from sausages to Glühwein.
Bayreuth is a 90-minute drive east of Bamberg, but worth the journey if you’re a Christmas market fan. The historic town is decorated with fairy lights, evergreen garlands and ornaments, and the charming Christmas market sell goodies that will put you in a festive mood. From sweet to savoury treats, hot chocolate and mulled wine to handcrafted trinkets and Christmassy décor, the market is the perfect set-up for a night of Christmas shopping.
Fifty kilometres north of Bamberg, Coburg adds its share of festive vibes to the Advent season. The old town market square is encircled by pretty half-timbered houses which create the perfect setting for the annual Christmas market. Wooden and festively decorated huts set up shop and offer a vast array of German Christmas food and drink as well as gift, souvenirs and trinkets to take home.
More half-timbered houses and Old Town charm wait for you in Forchheim, which is located halfway between Bamberg and Nuremberg. A cosy and tranquil atmosphere distinguishes the annual Christmas market from larger ones in the surrounding cities, but visitors from across the region also flock to Forchheim to get a glimpse of what’s said to be the most beautiful Advent calendar – and maybe even win a prize. The window shutters of the Old Town hall close at the end of November, each holding a prize, and every day one of them is revealed and raffled off to the crowd.