Bavaria’s Munich offers some of the most traditional Christmas markets in Germany – and so much more.
Here, you’ll find classic markets in former royal palace courtyards, Medieval-themed markets where you’ll drink from goblets – and dance to ancient rock – pink-coloured festivals, circus-themed bazaars and even celebrations on an old ship. Spend your December in these quintessentially quirky markets, feasting on festive Bratwurst and shopping for handcrafted gifts amongst decked-up trees and glittering lights.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a former cruise ship on a disused Munich railway bridge, transformed into a glittering hull of festive celebration. Trendy Alte Utting hosts Sternenflotte (Starfleet) Christmas Market is complete with art stalls, food trucks featuring great vegan options and lively performances from bands and DJs. Find an outdoor firepit-side spot overlooking Munich – or snuggle up in one of the indoor nooks and crannies. It’s in the Sendling district near Grossmarkt and well worth the journey.
Inject some romance into your Christmas at the intimate Sendlinger Tor market – where vintage-style carousels spin and stalls warmly glow in front of the medieval city wall gates. Pair freshly baked cookies and roasted almonds with hot chocolate made from real cocoa and buy unique international gifts like cribs from Tyrol and Peru, handicrafts from India, Venetian glassware and a plethora of exotic teas. Oh, and you’ll love the impressive glassblower demonstrations or hand-painted Christmas decorations to hang on your tree back home.
Christmas Market at the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower)
In the shadow of the iconic Chinese Tower, you’ll find this magical Christmas market. Gather the family to ride horse-drawn carriages and tuck into fluffy kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancakes) as live bands fill the air with Christmas classics. Visit Lese-Oma’s cosy story barn where your kids can perch on wool-covered chairs to hear fairytales and Schreiner-Opa’s hut to craft wooden toys. The English Garden’s glittering tree is almost as tall as the tower: a truly magical sight to behold.
The ornate, former royal Munich City Palace – the Residenz – overlooks this courtyard-based Christmas market that’s designed as a cosy Alpine village. There’s plenty for festive foodies, craft stalls selling traditional Bavarian tree ornaments and workshops with goldsmiths and glass blowers. Best of all is the children’s enchanting entertainment, including storytelling at the puppet theatre and Hansel and Gretel’s magical forest. Top tip: tour the palace, which is the biggest city palace in Germany with incredible decor – including the renowned Hall of Antiques.
Throw tradition to the dogs – or should we say reindeer? – at alternative, fairground-style Fairytale Bazaar where circus tents lined with colourful lights sprawl between the walls of a former slaughterhouse. The Leonrodplatz-based extravaganza promises a festive knees-up with Christmas cocktails, street art stalls, daily live music and unusual yuletide food offerings like vegan doner and Indian dishes. Meat lover? Visit on a weekend for Weisswurst breakfasts: regional white sausage made from spiced minced veal and pork back bacon.
When the trees and fountain at Weissenburger Platz are draped with hundreds of twinkling lights, the magic truly begins. This small market in the French Quarter is a local favourite – thanks to the moving Christmas concerts, special hand carved Tyrolean nativity scene and unique treats including raspberry and cherry-flavoured gluhwein and specially-brewed ‘Christmator’ beer. Balloon artists, face painters, puppet shows and Santa himself are all on hand to keep the kids entertained as you water your Christmas spirit.
Get transported to another century at Wittelsbacherplatz near Odeonsplatz, where the Mittelaltermarkt serves up all things Medieval. Sellers in hand-carved wooden huts wear historic costumes, craftsmen demonstrate ancient work and performers – think jugglers, knights and even medieval rock bands – dazzle at weekends. Tuck into bread and bratwursts smoked over open beechwood fires and sip ancient recipe, cauldron-brewed mulled wine – called Drachenglut or dragon’s blood – from a goblet. Why not buy a drinking horn to take home with you? A rather memorable stocking filler, indeed.
Small but spectacular Pink Christmas Market is a festive celebration for all, offering something a little different in the heart of Bavaria. And yes, it’s very pink. Adorned pagodas surrounded by glowing lights and lanterns sell the usual decorations, delicious grub and mulled bevs. Best is the nightly entertainment: drag queens, bands and some famous names hit the stage to dazzle happy crowds at this fun-filled, inclusive festive party. Stick around Glockenbachviertel to enjoy the trendy clubs and diverse culture through the night.