Dresden is said to be Germany’s Christmas capital. Boasting beautiful architecture and a picture-perfect setting, in the colder months the city is lit up by lanterns and fairy lights as the sounds of choirs and the smells of Christstollen fill the air. Inspired to do some gift shopping? Then check out our pick of the best Christmas markets in town.
Germany’s oldest Christmas market is taking place for the 583rd time this year. The wooden huts sell traditional products manufactured in the region alongside Saxon folk art, both of which make the Striezelmarkt so popular. Weekly events, music, a Ferris wheel, an enchanted forest and a puppet theatre keeps both kids and adults entertained.
The Mittelalter-Weihnacht medieval market draws crowds with the unique atmosphere of the courtyard of Dresden’s Royal Palace. Artists slip into the roles of minstrels and jesters to entertain visitors, and if mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate don’t warm you up, a dip into one of the enormous wooden tubs in the public bathhouse might do the job.
At the other end of the Royal Palace, the Weihnachtsmarkt romantic Christmas market is a quiet alternative to the medieval extravaganza, while the backdrop is just as grand. Wooden stalls and huts and fairly lights create a romantic atmosphere in which you can sip on your Glühwein unhurried. For more romance, go for a spin on the ice rink in the courtyard of the baroque Hotel Kempinski next door.
Right in front of Dresden’s Frauenkirche and next to the traditional Christmas market, the Advent market celebrates historic guild crafts and goods, such as engravers, sign writers and chocolatiers. Traditional food and music top off the experience.
This small traditional market is perfect for shopping for craft objects – vendors sell glass art, pottery and lace, while one of the highlights is the eight-metre (26-feet)-high wooden pyramid ornate with carved figures. You can even climb up for views over the market.
Hundreds of colourful lights illuminate the Winterlichter Markt on Dresden’s main shopping street during the Advent season. The 12-metre (39-feet) Christmas tree is a real eyecatcher, but it’s not the only reason to visit – the market stalls on Prager Strasse sell the best of traditional Saxon arts and craft and local food.
The Augustusmarkt on the right side of the Elbe has a tempting array of traditional German goods and local crafts, as well as international treats from Danish Glögg and Dijon mustard through to Swiss chocolate and oriental spices. Eat, drink and shop your way along Hauptstrasse and walk down to the riverfront for picturesque views over Dresden.