The Best Christmas Markets in and Around Frankfurt

Explore the best of Frankfurts Christmas Markets, then warm up with a hot glühwein
Explore the best of Frankfurt's Christmas Markets, then warm up with a hot glühwein | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Marion Kutter

Each Christmas, the air of Frankfurt – which has been home to Christmas markets for 600 years – fills with the scent of gingerbread and the sound of carolling choirs.

German markets are renowned worldwide for a reason. Trees glitter, carousels spin and decked-up stalls sell traditional yuletide goodies, from bratwurst and glühwein to handcrafted wooden toys. There’s a celebration for all in and around the city – whether it’s Cologne’s DJ-spinning Heavenue, charity-led Gondsrother at Hasselroth, or the twinkling Ingelheim market within fortified castle walls. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets in the area.

1. Frankfurt Christmas Market


FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY-NOVEMBER 30, 2018: Colorful crowds at the traditional (since 1393) Christmas market in historic center of Frankfurt
© Moskwa / Alamy Stock Photo

Frankfurt is aglow throughout December thanks to the sparkling, sprawling market – home of Germany’s biggest Christmas tree – at central Römerberg square, the Mainkai and Paulsplatz. Over 200 wooden cabins sell endless crafts and gifts with a backdrop of St Paul’s and St Nicholas’ churches, where you’ll hear choirs and joyous trumpet fanfare. Savour a mug of mulled wine or cider at an atmospheric glühwein hut, or take a guided tour with plenty of history – organised through the Frankfurt Tourist Office.

2. Gondsrother Christmas Market


Remember the true meaning of Christmas in Hasselroth – a 40-minute drive from Frankfurt – where Gondsrother street’s festive market gives profits to charities. Since 1991, it’s raised tens of thousands for those in need. The charming festive fundraiser sells crafts handmade by locals and fabulous festive food – while your kids will love the small rides and daily Santa visits. Stalls are surrounded by fairy light-strung streets and picturesque architecture: it’s a must to soak up the traditional town during your visit here.

3. Heavenue Cologne


Heavenue, otherwise known as Cologne’s Gay Christmas Market, is a big glittering party on the grounds of KölnBonn near Rudolfplatz. Each pre-Christmas December weekend, DJs spin, drag artists perform and food trucks line up to serve yummy treats and an endless stream of hot alcoholic beverages – including a specially mulled wine combining red and white. Expect Pop-art style stalls featuring angels and sparkling clouds, and impressive LED light shows in the buzzing main square. It’s a fun-filled celebration, welcoming to all.

4. Domplatz Square Historic Christmas Market, Erfurt


Christmas market on the Domplatz with Dom and Severikirche, dusk, Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

This grand market in historic Domplatz Square – founded in 742 – is worth the three-hour journey from Frankfurt. Marvel at the 25m (82ft)-high Christmas tree flickering with hundreds of candles, the intricate nativity scene with hand-carved figures set in a fairytale forest and the 200 huts selling crafts and decorations – plus regional speciality dishes like spicy Thuringian sausage. The market opens with a ceremony in late November on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral: a dramatic backdrop to the festivities.

5. Fechenheim Christmas Market


The market in Frankfurt’s Fechenheim has more surprises than a Christmas morning stocking. Dance your novelty socks off at the three-day music event, featuring concerts from rocking and swinging Christmas to trombone-led classic carols. Bid for prezzies at the American auction, vote in the Most Beautiful Christmas Tree competition, listen to Santa’s storytelling, marvel at ice sculpting and watch your kids decorate cupcakes with a fairy. All this is rounded off with hog roasts, roasted almonds, potato pancakes and hot cherry juice.

6. Ingelheim Christmas Market at the Castle Church


For an enchanting Noel, visit Ingelheim – one hour from Frankfurt – where an atmospheric market dazzles within the fortified walls of the Castle Church (Burgkirche). Amongst the glittering stalls and decor, visit the open-air stage for performances by local bands, choirs and schools. Tuck into meaty or vegan dishes and sip mulled wine from local winemakers in the cosy huts. There’s a magic wand workshop and carousel for children, along with a fairy light-strung rose garden for romantic wintry walks and lantern-lit castle wall tours.

7. Mannheim Christmas Market


Christmas fair / Mannheim
© Courtesy of Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo

Over 200 bustling craft, gift and food stalls surround Mannheim’s historic water tower and gardens. Devour freshly-based Christmas cookies and Feuerzangenbowle – mulled wine with drippings from lit, rum-soaked sugarloaf. Make sure you check out the charity stalls, antique carousels, concerts by local choirs and dance groups, plus the 18m (59ft)-tall Christmas pyramid with a high-up cafe. At the market – 30 minutes from Frankfurt by train – there’s colourful candle making for kids, while Santa and his angels pose for pics and dish out surprises.

8. Hanau Christmas Market


Germany, Hesse, Hanau, Deutschland, Hanau, Hessen,Weihnachtsmarkt, Marktplatz
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Hanau, home of Brothers Grimm, becomes a living fairytale at Christmas. The ornate town hall is transformed into a giant advent calendar, with each window a homage to one of the famous fairytales. Catch a 30-minute train from Frankfurt to Hanau to witness the magical daily unveiling – then wander the atmospheric market where carols colour the air, concerts light up your Christmas spirit like a tree and a mini Ferris wheel spins to delight young and old.

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Marion Kutter.

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