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While Germany is probably best known for its beer and castles, Christmas Markets aren’t far behind on that list. While planning a winter holiday in Europe, it is highly unlikely that a visit to at least one German Market isn’t a top priority on your list of things to do. Markets big and small, spread across the country during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, and Leipzig is one of the most popular.
Just an hour and a half train ride away from the capital of Berlin, Leipzig is the most populated city in the state of Saxony. The market gets quite busy at times, but doesn’t quite compare to the business of close by Dresden. Leipzig may have a large population, but it is a smaller and very walkable city.
Saxony is a great region in general for visiting Christmas markets as you can hit up a few of them upon short train rides. Leipzig is full of Christmas spirit as all of the shops are decked top to bottom with decorations while there are food and souvenir stalls in every direction you look. Being in Saxony, you are sure to find some of Germany’s most popular foods and souvenirs.
November 28th, 2020 – December 23rd, 2020
Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and Friday to Saturday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
There are multiple locations through out Leipzig, but the biggest and most popular market is the Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt located in the Zentrum at Marktplatz. This specific market has been around since the 15th century and is home to over 300 different stalls offering German specialties including plenty of foods and gifts. Weihnachtsmarkt offers the best market views throughout the city.
While Weihnachtsmarkt in Marktplatz is loaded with Christmas spirit, the market in Augustusplatz is all about the kids. This area is built up to be as a fairytale forest and home to rides such as a ferris wheel. Here, you can play games, win prizes, buy some toys and drink a hot wine to help rid of the stress your children cause you while screaming for cotton candy.
German specialties are the name of the game here. If you love German food, then these stalls are right up your alley. You will find bratwurst in every direction as well as some different kinds of sausages. The amount of people walking around with a brat in one hand and hot wine in the other actually becomes kind of comical.
For traditional foods from the Saxony region, you will find a lot of Dresden Handbrot. This pastry is baked in a brick fire oven, like a mini calzone. You can watch as they make them all across the food stalls. The bread is handmade, then stuffed with meat and cheese before being covered in a bit of cream.
Another popular option during the holiday season that you cannot pass by is Dresdner Christollen . This bread is very popular to this region and is stuffed with nuts and raisins that have been soaking for days in rum. The thick and heavy bread is covered with a dusting of powdered sugar on top. It goes perfect in the morning with a cup of coffee or for dessert with some Gluhwein.
Mushrooms, or champignons, are very popular through out the German Markets. The mushrooms are fried in a lot of garlic and butter in massive pans or cauldrons, on an open flame. They are then served with a gigantic dollop of a heavy, garlic cream with a piece of bread or meat. They smell delicious and will only cost you about 4 euros in every direction.
You will also find plenty of other Christmas specialties such as gingerbread and chestnuts. Chestnuts truly do roast on open fires in Germany, that is not just a song. The Germans also love their chocolates, so if you’re a chocoholic, this is a good place to be. These markets are about snacking, not having a meal, so it is best to not explore them on an empty stomach.
The Christmas Tree sits big and tall in Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt, easy for everyone to see. The tree makes a good reference point for finding your way out of the market. Once within the market stalls, it feels like a maze at times. However, you can always look up to find the tree, surrounded by beautiful architecture, as a way to figure out where you are.
If there is one thing that the Germans excel in with their markets, it is handmade souvenirs. Each market has their own specialty, but the Germans truly do it the best. You will find everything handmade from wooden toys, to glass orbs and even ceramic mugs being cooked before your eyes. The souvenir stalls are a bit overwhelming, which makes it difficult to find the exact item that you want, but the expedition of a gift is always fun.
When in Germany, it is hard to go wrong with a handmade, wooden Santa, creature or troll. There are thousands of different varieties, each awesome in their own manner. Have an idea in your head before going in or you might leave without anything at all. The most common themes around the season include nutcrackers, snowmen and Santas, but the traditional German figures are awesome as well.
One of the most unique items that you will find in every German Market is a Rauchmannherstellung (good luck saying that). These are handmade people, trolls and creatures created from German wood. They come apart at the waste, where there is a spot for incense. They are commonly seen with their mouths wide open to allow the smoke to escape. Some may only have an open mouth while others have a pipe in hand to add to the release of smoke. They are all fun to look at, have fun choosing the perfect one for you.
Other items that are often seen throughout Germany whether it is during the holiday season or not are cuckoo clocks and Wiehnachtspyramide (Christmas Pyramid). These items are priceless and absolutely stunning. The woodcarvings are an absolute work of art and the movement of each is unique on their own. However, these items are very delicate and may not be the best thing to take home on a plane. Shipping is always an option for anything too delicate. The last thing you want to do is break your one-of-a-kind souvenir on your journey back home to your own Christmas Tree.
A Glühwein mug collection is another great option for a souvenir. You can find many different mugs through out the different markets, each providing the name of the market in which you bought and drank the wine at. A wine, including the mug, goes for about 6 euros on average. If you just want the wine, you can return the mug after to receive euros back, or you can just continue recycling the mug while using it again and again for each wine you purchase.
There is no doubt, the German souvenirs are a bit pricey. However, you can definitely budget yourself and get something small like a wooden star for 2 euros, but where is the fun in that? Most items range anywhere from 20 to 150 euros, depending on size and overall quality. A 30 euro purchase is a good budget as anything in this price range will have very good quality. Remember, these souvenirs will last for life, so don’t be too stingy, you are in Germany after all.
The atmosphere of any German market is incredible, and Leipzig has no problem following suit. However, you need to be prepared for crowds to grow at times. It is not always easy to walk around, but it is nothing compared to nearby Dresden. The walkways between the market stalls are very small which can make it hard to navigate, but the views are fantastic. Have the expectation that you won’t be moving anywhere too fast while exploring the Leipzig Markets. If you feel at all overwhelmed, pull over, grab a beer or hot wine, and enjoy a German Christmas tradition.
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