christmas markets in munich
christmas markets in munich

Nearly every neighborhood in Munich hosts a Christmas market, and each has its own look and feel. Markets generally open the last weekend of November and remain open until December 23.

Munich Christkindlmarkt, Marienplatz

The most well-known market in Munich is in the heart of the city, Marienplatz. It sprawls over several blocks and is always crowded and festive. Around 160 stalls sell everything from locally-crafted jewelry, toys, ornaments, knits and other goods to factory-produced, imported gift ware and tschotskes.

The highlights of this market are the Manger Market (Kripperlmarkt), a special area of stalls selling nativity scenes, and the giant Christmas tree in the center of Marienplatz. Each year, a different town in Bavaria donates a tree — often reaching 75 feet — which is cut, painstakingly transported, hoisted into place with cranes and then draped with 3,000 lights.

The food stands offer perennial German favorites: bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, hot waffles, filled crepes, chocolate-covered fruit, mulled wine, hot cider and a powerful stuff called “fire-tongs punch” (Feuerzangebowle), in which a rum-soaked sugar cone is placed atop a punch bowl of mulled wine and set on fire so that caramelized sugar drips into the punch.

The Christkindlmarkt is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on Sundays).

Weihnachtsdorf at the Residenz

Just a short stroll away from the crowds at Marienplatz is a different kind of market, the Christmas Village (Weihnachtsdorf), at the Residence in Odeonsplatz. The Residence (Residenz), the former city palace of the Bavarian kings, is today a museum open to the public.

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The Christmas Village is set up outside in one of the Residence’s courtyards and consists of food and craft stalls, a bandstand and an Enchanted Forest for children. Bavarian artisans come here to sell their wares — everything from homemade schnapps to traditional Bavarian hats and clothing — at the craft stalls. Music performances, including brass bands, rock bands and choirs, are held daily at 4 p.m. in the bandstand.

The Enchanted Forest (Märchenwald) is a favorite among families. Animal and angel figures move and speak, and children are welcome to sit in Santa’s 200-year-old sled, complete with a team of reindeer figures.

The Christmas Village is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Chinese Tower Christmas Market

One of Munich’s smallest but most charming markets is in the middle of the Englischer Garten park at the Chinese Tower (Chineschischer Turm). It is a favorite spot for locals, especially families, in the Schwabing district.

The market features a merry-go-round with antique cars and a large wooden manger scene. The best time to visit is at night when the lights decorating the market sparkle in the dark woods.

Visitors can also enjoy a ride through the park in a horse-drawn wagon, complete with jingling bells. Wagons leave from the grounds of the Christmas market, just opposite the merry-go-round.

The Chinese Tower Christmas Market is open daily from noon to 8:30 p.m.

Middle Ages Market at Wittelsbacherplatz

For some historical flavor, head to the Middle Ages Christmas Market (Mittelaltermarkt) at Wittelsbacherplatz, just a couple of blocks west of Odeonsplatz. The stalls and their vendors are decked out in period style and sell handmade crafts — candles, liquor, leather and woolen goods, swords and armor, jewelry, soap, calligraphy supplies — that evoke medieval times.

Even the food is authentic: skewered meat roasted on an open fire and mead (honeyed wine) are among the offers. Jesters, jugglers, “wizards” and Renaissance musicians entertain regularly.

The Middle Ages Market is open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. (later on weekends)

Pink Christmas

The organizers call this the “somewhat different Christmas market” for those who’ve had their fill of the greenery-themed markets everywhere else. Decked out in pink trees and lights, Pink Christmas takes place in the Glockenbachviertal neighborhood of Munich, near Sendlinger Tor.

Although most popular with Munich’s gay and lesbian community, Pink Christmas welcomes all, and the crowd is a diverse mix of locals and tourists.

The market features original (sometimes quirky) gifts and refreshment stands. The big attraction, however, is the daily entertainment starting at 7 p.m. The colorful program includes drag and cabaret shows, pop singers and DJs.

Pink Christmas is open daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (weekends starting a noon).

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