Xmas in Heidelberg Area

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Home Page > Features > Germany > Baden-Wuerttemberg > Christmas Markets (Heidelberg and Rhein-Neckar region)

Christmas Markets in the Heidelberg Area

Outside Bavaria, some of the most interesting and beautiful Christmas markets can be found in the Heidelberg area. Germany's third-most visited city hosts a huge one that's spread across the whole downtown.  Nearby Mannheim's market is also huge.  The small towns have great markets as well -- including Schwetzingen, Bad Wimpfen, and Ladenburg (not shown here) -- that range from truly medieval to totally modern.

Heidelberg -- With Heidelberg being a significant tourist destination, it is not surprising that it has a very big and very busy Christmas Market.  In fact, this market extends along the entire one-kilometer long Hauptstrasse, beginning with a collection of huts at the Bismarckplatz at the west, and populating each nook and cranny until the Kornmarkt below the Heidelberg Castle!  (The Heidelberg travelogue is available here)

Munchies:  Candy covered almonds and roasted chestnuts

There are five squares along Heidelberg's main street that housed its annual Weihnachtsmarkt.  The city's main market square is shown here, with the Rathaus in the background.  In previous years, there was a large Christmas tree here, but in 2004 they elected to place a large windwheel similar to those in other markets.

This is a shot of the Kornmarkt, the square furthest to the east, directly below the Heidelberg Castle (which you can partly see).  The barn at the left is a petting zoo (Streichelzoo), which held three donkeys.  The Heidelberg Castle hosted its usual large number of visitors, especially foreign tour groups who gladly came down after the climb for a good warm dose of mulled wine!

The largest and usually most crowded of the five squares is the Universitatplatz, in the middle of the main street, and that one has carousels and a performance stage.  This shot is taken from the back of the platz toward to the University building.

The Schillerplatz and Bismarckplatz (shown here) host a handful of huts each.  Bismarckplatz has the advantage of being at the city's largest bus and streetcar station and its largest downtown department store. 

Mannheim -- The Mannheim Christmas Market is also pretty large, surrounding the famous Wasserturm at the entrance to the old city.  We paid this one a brief visit on the way to the downtown itself for some hardcore Christmas gift shopping.  Mannheim is a great place to shop!  (The Mannheim travelogue is located here)

Munchies:  Deep-fried calamari rings with horseradish sauce

The market is pretty well organized.  The rides and kiddie zone were at the southwest side of the square, long rows of food zones at the opposite end and the base of the Wasserturm is wrapped around by huts selling specialty and craft items.  Roasted chestnut booths like this train were also common.

The Wasserturm square was the perfect place to have it, a very big open square near the heaviest traffic leading to the downtown and near several of the largest parking lots.  The Wasserturm made a nice landmark.

Bad Wimpfen -- The Altdeutscher Christmas Market is the single most beautiful small-town Christmas market that we have visited.  Snaking through just about the entire downtown, this market has everything available at the bigger markets, but also has much more character due to its medieval setting.  Not well known among expats and travelers, but very well known among the home town crowd.  Only runs on a few weekends in Advent.  (The Bad Wimpfen travelogue is located here)

By itself, this picture gives a telling story of the city's rather vertical character.  The huts follow Bad Wimpfen's narrow and steep cobblestone streets to the famous Stauferplatz at the top.

This shot was taken from the Stadtkirche, Bad Wimpfen's famous city church with the 15th century calvary at the back.  Each of Bad Wimpfen's squares has booths in it, no space was wasted.

This shot gives a grand view of how wonderfully the Christmas Market embraces the beauty of this tiny town.  Not far from this point was a small meeting hall that hosted the town's Nativity-making contest.  Contestants from the town competed in different age groups and the results ranged from traditional to artistic to totally abstract.

Bad Wimpfen also hosted a separate hidden market in honor of its partner city in Finland.  This gentleman is smoking fresh salmon the old fashioned way -- fastened to wooden boards before an open fire.  Other Finnish delicacies (esp. alcoholic) were available, but not cheap.

Schwetzingen -- The Schwetzingen Christmas Market is the youngest of any market we've visited, celebrating only its 12th year in 2004.  This is a very modern setting, eschewing the traditional wooden huts for larger and cheaper canvas tents.  Nonetheless it accommodates large crowds pretty nicely.  (The Schwetzingen travelogue is located here)

Schwetzingen's market had an international flavor to it, with tents reserved for various ethnic groups and cultures to peddle traditional wares.  Of course, German wares were plentiful.

Although one of the smaller markets, this one had plenty of entertainment -- from the kiddie train shown here to rock-n-roll concerts and street musicians.

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



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