The grandaddy of all Christmas markets in Munich, the Marienplatz market is right in the centre of town. The enormous Christmas tree festooned with lights makes it hard to miss. In addition to all the usual Christmas market accoutrements, there is live music every evening at 5.30pm on the balcony of the town hall.
Circus tents set up between the walls of an old slaughterhouse give the Märchenbazaar (‘fairy tale bazaar’) a special vibe. There are lots of food options here: you can get burritos alongside the traditional raclette and Reibkuchen. For presents, look for handmade leather goods, ponchos, elegant jewellery and wood carvings.
Right near the Marienplatz, you will find probably the largest nativity market in all of Germany. If you are looking for a representation of the birth of Christ’s birth in wood, with an inordinate amount of detail depicted, this is the place to go.
For most Germans, Christmas markets are social events. People meet colleagues after work for a Glühwein or two or use the market as a way to catch up with friends they don’t see so often. The Wintertollwood market on the Theresienwise is a market where people go to party, eat food from other countries, buy crafts and take in some live music.
The market at Sendlinger Tor is decorated in a traditional way, but has wares on offer from all over the world. Tea, spices and fragrant oils sit alongside jewellery made from semi-precious stones. Nativity scenes from Tyrol, Peru and the Andes and crystal glass from Russia await you, as well as handmade ceramics from Latvia and soap carved into the shape of any animal you could imagine.
Most importantly, the Christmas market at the Chinese tower inside the English Garden has two curling rinks. Grab your zaniest trousers and give the world’s best old-man sport a try. If throwing rocks down a sheet of ice and then sweeping furiously is not your thing, there is also a chance to procure the usual Christmas market items. There are plenty of wandering carollers and bratwurst to enjoy.
Head back to the time of knights, damsels and peasants at the Middle Ages Market and Advent Spectacle. Jugglers wander around hand-carved wooden stalls and the goldsmith, lantern-builder and glass-blower show how their crafts are done as well as selling their wares. Falconers and acrobats are also on hand.
If your interest in Christmas markets revolves chiefly around hanging out with friends and necking warming drinks without being outside in the cold too much, a ride in the Christkindl tram might be just the thing. It leaves daily on the hour and half hour from Sendlinger Tor, from 3.30pm to 7pm on weekdays and from 11am to 7.30pm at weekends.