Christmas markets are an age-old tradition that date back to the Middle Ages. Historically, these seasonal street markets were occasions for villagers and traders to peddle their wares. Over time, winter markets throughout Europe adopted a more festive atmosphere, becoming a celebration of the holiday season. Some of the earliest mentions of Christmas markets date back to the early 1300s, in Munich, Germany. The city has upped its holiday celebrations every year, making Munich a top winter destination with some of the most iconic Christmas markets.
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Celebrate The Season At These Christmas Markets In Munich
1. Marienplatz Square
Marienplatz Square (St. Mary’s Square) in the center of Munich will hold its traditional Christmas market from November 25 to December 24 in 2016. It'll feel like a celebration every evening, with live performances of Advent music at 5:30 p.m. on the balcony of the Town Hall. Just a few steps from Marienplatz Square is one of Germany's largest manger markets, at Neuhauser Strasse. You'll find bits and bobbles to decorate your own nativity scene, and holiday treats for the whole family.
Schwabing Christmas Market is known for its artisans, unique handicrafts and bohemian flair. This market is located in the city's former Bohemian quarter, just next to the Münchener Freiheit U-Bahn station. The market has an Art Tent, where works of art are displayed, and over a hundred one-person stands where vendors sell handcrafted works. With musical performances and even cuisines from around the world, the Schwabing Christmas market is open for festivities November 26 to December 24.
3. Chinesischer Turm
The Christmas market at the Chinese tower, or Chinesischer Turm, is perfect for families with kids. The festival holds special "children's days" where jolly Saint Nick hands out gifts to the little ones. The market, held at the Englischer Garten, is open from November 29 to December 22, with the "children's days" falling on December 7 and 14.
Munich's second biggest Christmas market is called Weinaachtsdorf, located inside the Kaiserhof courtyard of the Munich Residenz. At this Christmas Village, you'll find a variety of goods for sale, from Bavarian and traditional German Christmas tree decorations, to Bavarian-style culinary specialties. Open every day 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from November 25 to December 23, Christmas Village will up your mood with live music and performances.
5. Mittelaltermarkt Munchen
At the medieval Christmas market, you'll find Renaissance characters, fire shows, displays of wizardry and perhaps a prince in disguise. Known locally as Mittelaltermarkt Munchen, this market is a throwback to the markets of ages past. It's held at Wittlesbacherplatz square, near Odeons Platz. You might find a few modern items here and there, but Mittelaltermarkt Munchenlargely largely reflects the earliest markets of the middle ages. The medieval Christmas market opens November 25 and runs daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. until December 23.
A smaller Christmas market that still has its share of crafts and entertainment, Praterinsel is on an island in the Isar River. Close to the major Maximilian Strasse shopping mile, Praterinsel is open November 25 to December 23. It runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends.
7. Tollwood Winter Festival
Tollwood Winter Festival is technically not a Christmas market. However, it's often recommended for those who enjoy the holidays, because it's a seasonal celebration of festivities just the same. In addition to the Christmas goods you might find, the festival offers organic, "alternative" goods as well, from international food to one-of-a-kind knickknacks. In true festival spirit, Tollwood adds exhibitions, live music and theater shows into the mix. The Tollwood Winter Festival runs until December 23, but a final shebang is held on December 31 in light of New Year's Eve.
This article was written by Hanna Choi.