A trip to Hamburg’s Christmas markets does not need much planning. During the Advent season, the city centre transforms into a festive strolling promenade with plenty of opportunities to buy gifts, snack on delicious food and enjoy one or two Glühwein. The various events will keep you entertained whichever of the markets you choose. Here are seven of the best.
Historical Christmas Market at the Town Hall
Hamburg’s historical Christmas Market charms visitors with the grand town hall as a backdrop, the best of German craftsmanship and a signature Glühwein recipe. The stalls and huts are elaborately decorated with lights and garlands and sell handmade artsy things rather than plastic toys. Shop around the individually themed alleys for wood carvings, glass art, beeswax candles, amber jewellery and lanterns. Culinary treats range from Nuremberg gingerbread to Hamburg’s speciality Schmalzkuchen. Look above and watch out for Santa zipping across the market in a reindeer sleigh.
Fairytale ships on the Inner Alster
If you have kids with you, the fairytale ships near Jungfernstieg are an unmissable experience. Each of the lovingly decorated boats offers a list of events for children older than three years. The entertainment programme is colourful and varied, and kids can join in with face painting, a puppet theatre, magic shows, story-time and baking workshops. Tickets can be booked in advance.
The Santa Pauli market in Hamburg’s red-light district St Pauli brings you the Christmas spirit with a difference. Like the Kietz itself, the market is loud, frivolous and extravagant. The stage hosts varieté shows and live music, while stalls sell classic Christmas gifts and erotic toys all towered over by a giant disco ball. A lounge room with fireplace is where people come to for a break from the jarring activities and sip on a mulled wine or hot punch.
Christmas Market at the Gänsemarkt
The quaint Gänsemarkt market focuses on traditional Christmas market experiences. The smell of roast almonds and Glühwein hovers over the square; vendors sell hand-crafted goods made from wood, glass, wax and wool and Christmas songs qently hum in the background. A highlight for kids is the Advent Sundays when Santa Claus hands out presents.
White Magic at the Jungfernstieg
The White Magic Christmas market at the Jungfernstieg swaps the traditional wooden huts for white pagoda tents illuminated by silver, gold and blue lights. It’s a perfect place to shop for arts and crafts, children’s toys and Christmas gifts. Culinary classics such as roast almonds, Bratwurst hot dogs and waffles are available, and if you’ve grown tired of mulled wine, you can treat yourself to a hot Caipirinha instead. For the best views over the Alster river, take a ride on the old Ferris wheel.
Christmas Village in Ottensen
The cosy Christmas market in Ottensen is one of Hamburg’s most authentic and an excellent choice if you’re visiting with kids. The wooden huts have been designed with great attention to detail, evergreen garlands and lights decorate the market square, while vendors sell crafts, trinkets and international foods, from Italian pesto to Swiss raclette cheese.
Around the corner from Hamburg central station, pink gates open up to the city’s gay and lesbian Christmas market Winter Pride. Organised by the local LGBTQ community, the alternative market baits even Christmas grinches with indie and electro DJ sets instead of choirs singing Christmas carols. Other events include fun games such as ‘Homo Sweetheart’ and ‘Rubbish Secret Santa’. The profits go towards charitable projects of the queer community.