A few years ago, my husband Kevin and I took my mom, aka Oma, to Munich and Nuremberg for the Christmas markets. It was as magical as everyone says.
Nuremberg hosts one of the oldest markets in the country, dating back to the mid-16th century. Germans love their traditions, so don’t expect LED lights and sparkling displays. Simple wood stalls tented with candy cane-striped fabric, gussied up with evergreens and white lights is about as elaborate as it gets. Most of the crafts sold at the market are made by traditional regional manufacturers. Even the stalls are made of the local spruce. I don’t think the look of these markets has changed much in decades (maybe even more), and that’s what makes them so special.
There’s a few gifts to look for. I love traditional German incense smokers — wooden figurines (typically old men with beards and a pipe) that blow fragrant plumes out of their mouths. You’ll also find nutcrackers, beeswax candles, tons of ornaments and those spinning Christmas pyramids whose fan blades always seem to fall off as soon as you touch them. Oh well, they’re fun to look at!
The market is as much about the goods as it is about food. Try the traditional rotbratwurst, a skinny sausage served in a roll and topped with loads of mustard. They’re delicious! Nuremburg is the home of the pretzel, so if there were any ideal time to embrace the carbs, this is it. Stay warm with a mug of glühwein, a traditional sweet, spiced wine. They’re quite potent, but the good news is the sweetness will probably make your tummy hurt before you drink too much.
On weekends, you’ll hear concerts and choirs make music all day at the main stage, adding to an overflowing sense of Christmas cheer.