Heidelberg is easily among Germany’s most beautiful cities, but to see the picturesque old town and the castle illuminated by fairy lights during the Christmas season is the icing on the cake. Wooden huts are scattered across most old town squares and enchant visitors with their festive flair. Mulled wine and delicious food fuel the pleasant atmosphere, and if you’re more the sporty kind, head to Karlsplatz for a spot of ice skating with dramatic views of Heidelberg castle.
On the other riverside of Heidelberg’s imposing castle sits the Benedictine monastery Neuburg atop of a hill overlooking the city. From Fridays to Sundays during the Advent season, the monastery opens its gates for a unique Christmas market. Local artists and artisans take the opportunity to showcase their work, while the residing monks offer food, drink and goods produced by themselves, including punch and mulled wine, and organic craft beer from the on-site brewery.
More than 200 vendors gather for Mannheim’s Christmas market at Friesenplatz. The historic water reservoir tower serves as an eye-catching backdrop for the festive activities. As far as shopping goes, nothing is left to be desired, whether you’re looking for traditional Christmas tree ornaments, handmade candles, wooden toys, handicrafts made from timber, ceramics or leather, clothes or exotic trinkets from Asia and Latin America.
Schwetzingen border the western side of Heidelberg city and is known for its baroque castle and its beautiful parks and gardens. The 18th-century residence stages several events throughout the year, including the Schwetzingen Christmas market, which has a unique atmosphere. For the Advent season, white pagoda tents are pitched, decorated and decked out with decor, trinkets and products from artisans. On one of the weekends, vendors from Schwetzingen’s partner cities in Hungary, France and Italy bring typical foods and goods from their own regions to the table.
The city of Speyer has more than 2,000 years of history under its belt and is home to the world’s largest preserved Roman church. Set in the midst of all this historic charm, the annual Christmas market spreads a festive atmosphere with evergreen garlands, lights and Christmassy food. On Advents weekends, a craft market opens in the town hall courtyard, where you can shop for gifts and souvenirs or peek over the shoulders of the artisans as they work.
Ludwigshafen is a quick train ride from Heidelberg and celebrates the time before Christmas with a festive market at Berliner Platz. Some 60 vendors sell Christmas decor and souvenirs and provide visitors with culinary specialities and international foods and drinks. At the same time as the market, the whole city is illuminated by light installations.
The city of Worms is usually associated with three things: its status as one of Germany’s oldest cities, its Roman church and its mention in Wagner’s world-famous Song of the Nibelungs. The Worms Christmas market brings together all elements of its history, with red-painted huts setting up shop on the cobblestone market square in front of the church. Aspects of the heroic epic are also reflected in the drinks and food available and in the entertainment programme.