In case it’s passed you by, here on Grown-up Travel Guide we’ve told you all about the best Christmas markets in Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Rome, London, Amsterdam and Paris. We’ve got a couple more up our sleeve but for our money Germany is still the country to beat in terms of the overall Christmas market experience, but don’t just think Berlin, Munich, Cologne. Just as it’s often passed over (very wrongly) as a weekend destination a lot of people ignore the attractions of Hamburg when it comes to festive shopping. We found it to be an excellent place for a pre-Christmas weekend – and here are the city’s best markets…
Hamburg, Germany – Don’t overlook Germany’s second-largest city
Town Hall Christmas Market
The most famous Christmas Market in the Hanseatic harbour city is, as the name suggests, set against the imposing backdrop of the town hall. In the square you’ll find a large number of wooden stall selling handicrafts and festive treats – and a lot of food and drink. This market even has its very own Glühwein (mulled wine) but be warned – it’s strong stuff. You pay a 2 Euro deposit for the mug which you can then keep as a souvenir or return for your money back. The main focus of this market is high quality craftmanship and the stalls are arranged on ‘streets’ with specific themes – ‘toy street’ being one example, complete with a model train running around the roofs. You’ll be able to find products from other areas of Germany including distinctive wood carvings from Tyrol. Santa Claus flies over the market on his sleigh to delight visitors every evening and on each Saturday in Advent a Christmas parade takes place.
Open 25 November 2013 – 23 December 2013
Jungfernstieg Christmas Market
One of the latest additions to Hamburg Christmas Market scene can be found on the waterfront of the Binnenalster lake. It’s a colourful affair with an attractive light show and has become a very popular place to while away a few hours. There are plenty of events taking place and naturally the popular combination of handicrafts (it’s a good place for jewelry), great food and mulled wine.
Open 25 November 2012 – 6 January 2014 (closed 24 and 24 December)
The “Santa Pauli” Christmas Market
This being Hamburg you’d perhaps expect something a little adult-oriented, and the city doesn’t disappoint. Santa Pauli is an interesting fusion of a traditional Christmas atmosphere and bawdy St. Pauli entertainment. Those over 18 years old can explore the pine forest which offers strip shows and ‘lighthearted readings’ with none too subtle sexual overtones. The Adult Tent allows visitors to browse for sensual gift ideas for Christmas presents. The market is also open at night and has a daily live music schedule, an open-air art gallery, and – believe it or not – even a Sunday children’s programme.
Open 22 November 2013 – 23 December 2013
St. Petri Church Christmas Market
Taking place around the festively decorated St. Petri church, this Christmas market is very picturesque with its wooden huts adorned with firs. There’s a variety of crafts on sale here and lots of great food from gingerbread to freshly grilled Bratwurst. Children will love the old-fashioned carousel and adults can watch misty-eyed while sipping Glühwein.
Open 26 November 2013 – 30 December 2013 (closed 25 and 26 December)
Gänsemarkt Christmas Market
Gänsemarkt is probably Hamburg’s most charming Christmas market, with traditional carol singers adding to the classic yuletide atmosphere. There are thirty stalls near the Lessing monument decorated in powder blue and white, with handicrafts, mulled wine, punch and foodie favourites from roasted sweet almonds to juicy Bratwurst. Here too children can ride the old-school carousel and the market has a large Christmas tree of its own to complete the picture. Oh and if you were wondering, the name means goose market.
Open 25 November 2013 – 23 December 2013
Fleetinsel Christmas Market
Located just five minutes from the main Town Hall square, this Christmas market used to be a bit of a Hamburg secret but the word has got out – yet it’s still far less crowded than others in the city. Surrounded by buildings between Rödingsmarkt and Stadthausbrücke you’ll come across Fleetinsel Christmas Market – once of the best in Hamburg and a great place to stop after a wander along Neuer Wall. There are only a handful of stands but the quality of crafts is high – we found some fabulous carved candles here.
Open 26 November 2013 – 23 December 2013