Have you ever been to Thuringia (“Thüringen”)? Do you know where it is? It’s Germany’ most central state and filled with mountains, castles and scenic landscapes. And if you visit in December you have to stop by the top 10 Christmas markets in Thuringia that locals love and tourists don’t know about.
There are plenty of terribly underrated Christmas markets, too. Some on castles, other next to medieval city walls.
The thing is: if you want to make the most of them, you need to know when they are happening as some are only up for a day.
So if you want to go where the locals go, this is your ultimate guide on where you can find Thuringian Christmas markets.
And if you would actually like a local guide, you can book my photography tour services here.
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1. Wartburg Christmas Market
Wartburg in Eisenach is one of the most iconic attractions in Thuringia thanks to Martin Luther. He reformed the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, translated the Bible and campaigned against abolishing indulgences.
As a result, Protestanismwas born. Since 1999 it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was hereon the fortress Wartburg that he hid away during translating the bible and thecastle and its museum can be visited throughout the year.
In December, however,the courtyard transforms into a Christmasy wonderland with golden fairy lightsand wonderful food smells.
The Christmas market fare here is a bit different as it is rooted in tradition and history.
Instead of modern items, you will find traditional handicrafts being made in front of your eyes. Buy souvenirs from local candle makers, glassblowers, stonemasons and herbalists.
Dates: 11 December und 17/18 December 2022, 10am to 7pm
2. Leuchtenburg Christmas Market
The Leuchtenburg castle thrones high above the town of Kahla. You can see it from the highway and even as far as Jena! It isn’t particularly big but still impressive with its very striking grey tower.
The castle has its own museum, which delves into local history as well as the production of “white gold”. For good luck, you can smash porcelain down thecastle walls. Don’t worry, the shards will be picked up and recycled.
As can be expected, you will be given the opportunity to buy Kahla porcelain, which is regularly awarded for its special quality and renowned worldwide.
Other local products are on sale as well and you can cosy up in therestaurant if the chilly breeze on in the courtyard gets too much. Pro tip: Always wear thermal underwear when visiting Christmas markets in castles on hills!
You can read more about your visit to Leuchtenburg Castle here.
- Entrance: 7€ (kids free), includes entrance to visit to the Porcelain Experience
3. Erfurt Christmas Market
Did you know that there are a total of 17 Christmas sites in Erfurt, the state’s capital? But the most important Erfurt Christmas market certainly is the one in front of thegrand cathedral.
The square gets illuminated beautifully with big lettering in golden light over the entrance, a super tall live Christmas tree and an original Ore Mountain Christmas pyramid.
There are plenty of local stalls selling all kinds of warm food and beverages, locally sourced souvenirs (both food as well as handicraft) and entertainment booths.
When it comes to fun, try the colourful ferris wheel, a scooter platform or practice your aim by throwing for goodies. There are plenty of smaller Christmas markets on your way from the train station to the main Christmas market, so dress up warm and get into the festive spirit!
If you’re hitting up several European cities, it’s a good idea to get a Eurail pass. Here are the cheapest prices on Eurail passes.
Dates: 22 November to 22 December 2022
4. Jena Christmas Market
I might be biased because Jena is my birth place but I highly recommend a visit either way.
After all, Lichtstadt Jena has two Christmas markets.
The biggest one spills out from the medieval market square in itscentre to the main parking lot, boasting plenty of food and crafts stalls aswell as mini theme park attractions.
On the main Christmas market, you can witness the daily brass orchestraplaying Christmas tunes. There is a stage for other musical and dance performancesas well. Just know they are more on the German folksy side.
Follow the row of colourful houses a little in the back and you will seethe remains of the medieval city walls and gate. It is here that you find the medieval Christmas market.
Fun fact: It is Thuringia’s oldest Christmas market!
Underneath the authentic gates and patrol walks, old-fashioned stalls areselling silverware, furs and roasted meats. Get your met too while watching a live fire dance!
Dates: 25 November to 22 December 2022, 10am-9pm
- Best hiking trails around Jena
- What else to do in winter in Jena
- Ultimate things to see in Jena
- Xmas market website
5. Heidecksburg Christmas Market
Rudolstadt is a rather small town but it still as several Christmasmarkets. Down below in Old Town, you can find the “Schillers Weihnacht” market.
But for the castle, go up the slope and enter through the round gates of the grandRenaissance building.
The museum will also be open and while you’re at it, you can also getentrance to the wonderful exhibition “Rococo en miniature”, which displays an alternative universe set in a Baroque setting in the process of usurping themonarchy. (Can you tell it was createdin GDR times?)
The Palace Christmas market is small and cosy but beautifully decorated with its very own live Christmas tree and pretty stalls.
If you arrive by public transport, there is a shuttle bus availablefrom bus stops “Kaufcenter”, “Sommerstraße” and “Am Anger”. A car parking space can be found on “Bleichwiese”.
- Entrance: 2€ (+4€ museum, 2€ exhibition)
6. Schmalkalden Christmas Market
Locally known as the Herrscheklasmarkt, Schmalkalden hosts its very own small markt. Don’t expect anything big or fancy. The setting itself is simply magical. Schmalkalden has one of the prettiest and most intact medieval Old Towns in all kinds of pastel colours. It’s worth a visit anytime of the year.
Besides the market square turned Christmas Market, you also need to see the medieval Christmas market in the city palace. Fun fact: the palace has one ofthe most stunning and whitest Baroque castle churches you will ever see.
Local medievial associations are presenting authentic tunes and you can buy souvenirs, such as honey, soaps, leather, jewellery and brass products.
Must try local foods: “Thüringer Bratwurst” (Thuringian sausage), “Kloß mit Soß” (Thuringian dumplings)
Dates: 27 November 2022, 1pm to 6pm
7. Gotha Christmas Market
Gotha is a splendid city with well preserved architecture. It looks a little like a big doll house with its pastel coloured baroque houses lining the cobblestone streets. The towering palace up above the city also adds to its particular charm and its museum is well worth a visit.
Fun fact: The Christmas market in Gotha hosts Thuringia’s largest Mulled Wine Hut. So if you like “Glühwein”, what are you waiting for? Not only that but there is also the biggest “Schwibbogen”and you can enter it too!
Furthermore, this year there is not only one but two life size Christmas manger displays.
8. Altenburg Christmas Market
On the old city market square in Altenburg you can find the excessively charming and quaint Altenburg Christmas Market.
Throughout its duration expect entertainment programs and musical performance for both adults and kids alike.
On the market square you will not only find lavishly decorated huts selling all kinds of goods but a beautiful live Christmas tree as well. Get snug with mulled wine and treat yourself to lebkuchen.
9. Weimar Christmas Market
One of THE must visit cities in Thuringia is Weimar. It is strikingly beautiful with its historic Renaissance and baroque houses, the grand town hall, a castle in the centre and its 48 hectare big lush park. There are three sites for Weimar Christmas markets: the market square, Schillerstraße and Herderplatz.
Expect the cobblestone streets to be lined with wooden huts and filled with food and souvenirs. This way you can easily combine your sightseeing as you stroll through the main streets of the city.
In front of the old town hall you can find a 20 metre high Christmas tree. The tradition to put it up has been going on since 1815.
The idea back then came from a wealthy merchant who wanted to treat his poor neighours to a Christmas tree even if they couldn’t afford one. Many other cities followed suit with this charitable thinking.
In total, there are four Xmas sites all over town. Check out my handy guide for these Christmas markets in Weimar.
Must eats: Stollen and roasted almonds (“gebrannte Mandeln”)
Dates: 22 November 2022 to 5 January 2023
10. Meiningen Christmas Market
One of the prettiest Christmas markets thanks to its wonderful setting is the Christmas market in Meiningen.
It isn’t big by any means but with the historichouses and 1000 year old church providing the perfect backdrop to wooden hutsand entertainment booths, it’s positively delightful.
There even is a merry go round, a big Christmas tree and a mulled wine hut. Expect a busy event schedule, especially on advent Sundays. If you always wantedto see a performance of a German Christmas fairy tale, this could be yourchance!
If you’ve been a good human, you might be able to take a photo with Santa Clausas well. During the second advent weekend, you can enter the marble hall of the Palace Elisabethenburg to stop by the local handicraft Christmas market.
1-2 Day Castle Christmas Markets
- Neues Palais Arnstadt
- Ordensburg Liebstedt (33€ fee)
- Burg Hanstein
- Schloss Burgk (entry fee)
- Schloss Wilhelmsburg Schmalkalden
- Residenzschloss Altenburg (10€ fee)
- Sommerpalais Greiz
- Kochberg Nicolausmarkt (3€ fee)
- Neues Schloss in Steinach
- Burg Ranis
- Schloss Ponitz
- Schloss Elisabethenburg Meiningen
- Schloss Friedenstein Gotha
- Burg Posterstein
More Thuringia Christmas Markets
- Arnstadt: Bachadvent
- Gera: Märchenmarkt
- Lauscha: 29th Kugelmarkt
- Rudolstadt: Schillers Weihnacht
- Suhl: Chrisamelmart
Tell me, have you ever been to a Thuringian Christmas market?
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