Xmas in Baden-Wurtt.

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Home Page > Features > Germany > Baden-Wuerttemberg > Christmas Markets (Swabia and Tauber Valley)

Christmas Markets in Baden-Württemberg

This page covers the Christmas Markets in Baden-Württemberg not in the general Heidelberg/northern Neckar Valley region.  Those Christmas Markets can be found in the Heidelberg Area page.

Baden-Württemberg's Christmas Markets are run a little different than their counterparts in Bavaria.  The Bavarian markets usually begin on the first weekend of Advent, whereas many B-W markets begin smartly on the 25th of November, precisely 30 days before Christmas.  B-W markets also tend to very big in the cities, running the full 30 days, while the smaller cities and towns may only have it running on a single weekend (where Bavarian towns might run them on all weekends of Advent).  However, the ones in the larger cities like Stuttgart, are large and decorative enough to rival those in Bavaria.

Stuttgart -- The city of Stuttgart puts on a big show.  Gorgeous lighting, beautiful shops and all the gorgeous architecture as a backdrop make it one of the popular Christmas Markets in the German southwest.  The Christmas Market was divided somewhat into three separate zones, each with its own character. (The Stuttgart travelogue is located here)

Munchies:  Schupfnudeln (dumplings) with bacon and sauerkraut

Tom toured the Winterfest in '02 at dusk.  He began at the Schlosspark, just outside the train station.  The Schlosspark Market was where the ice rink lay, with lots of traditional German food stands nearby and a circle of market huts that specialized in Christmas candles (all sorts of varieties).  

The primary market went from the city museum to the Old Market Square.  It began around where this picture was taken with a alley of huts selling international foods (we remembered a lot of Meditteranean).  

We went there together in 2003, and again started at the Schlosspark.  The best part was watching this kiddie ride -- the conductor is sitting on a real coal-fired model train that takes the kids on a long figure-8 track.  Pretty incredible, it must be a hundred years old.

The Rathaus Square is the third zone of the Market.  Admittedly this not the best photos but none of our photos of it came out well.  In this huge square, the huts were lined in long rows and topped with huge Christmas decorations.  Near the square, a separate road of huts leads to the Nativity filled with live goats and sheep.

Schwäbisch Gmünd -- The steeply-roofed half-timber houses of Swabia beg to be covered in Christmas lights, as evidenced in the first photo below.  Schwäbisch Gmünd is a small canal town NE of Stuttgart and was once (and perhaps still is) a popular town where American soldiers were stationed during the Cold War.  I found a number of American flags still flying among the cafés.  (The Schwäbisch Gmünd travelogue is located here)

Munchies:  Italian pizza with salami.

This was the best example of the half-timber houses and how they brighten up under the light.  The buildings themselves almost look like Christmas Trees!  The market itself was very beautiful, with a wide variety of goods -- I detected a lot of Eastern influence among the locals.  It was a shame that my visit was during a driving rainstorm, which kept the crowds away.

But those that did come were mostly interested in the Weihnachtscirkus, which took place under this red and yellow tent outside the main square.  I believe they advertised nightly performances during Advent, two-a-day on weekends.  Weihnachtscirkuses (sp?) were common among German cities, many hosting them during the 12 days of Christmas after the Markets closed for the season.

Ulm -- Ulm was Tom's last stop on his 2002 Christmas Market tour.  This one was perched directly underneath the Cathedral and its 176-meter tall spire, which Tom felt compelled to climb.  (The Ulm travelogue is available here)

Munchies:  Belgian waffle with cinnamon-sugar and coffee

This picture was taken moments after the Sunday Christmas Market opened, so the crowds were only beginning to form.  I took a similar picture later with denser crowds, but unfortunately it had begun to rain.  Believe me, by the time I left, it was elbow-to-elbow people (and umbrellas)!

But the best part of going to Ulm's market was getting the view from above.  I made it a point to climb to the top of the Cathedral so I could get shots of it from the top.  768 steps is a long ways up as you can see.  Plus it built up my appetite so the waffle tasted really good when I got down to the bottom!

Bad Mergentheim -- The small Tauber River town of Bad Mergentheim only hosts its Christmas Market on one weekend per year, but it's a lovely and active one, drawing visitors from all across the state's northeast.  The four-day program is packed with music and activities, and the booths were lovely.  

This is the main market square where the market is held.  It's a small one, with about twenty booths, but because it's only one weekend it was pretty crowded with people.  Bad Mergentheim's colorful downtown square made for a gorgeous setting.

The Saturday morning Christmas band performance brightened up the mood despite the building dark clouds.  This shot shows the decor of the main street, with the nativity calendar at upper center and the Deutschordens Museum in the distance.

Tauberbischofsheim -- This Tauber River town is the district capital and a famous stop on Germany's Romantic Road.  Its Christmas Market sits at the base of the town's beautiful palace tower.  It also runs only a limited time.

The name of the town was twice the size of its market, consisting of about twenty booths in a circle around the palace courtyard.  The simple wooden booths were very well decorated.

This stage is set in the background of the first photograph.  It was always filled with music despite that this was the Market's closing day when we visited.

Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2004 Tom Galvin



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