Fancy celebrating Christmas in Germany? You’re in luck because Germans take Christmas extremely seriously, decorating their streets and windows with tasteful (and only slightly cheesy) light displays and going on Christmas markets.
So if you’re around over NYE, you still get the chance to go. I’ve got some more handy first-hand tips for you. Read on!
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When is the Weimar Christmas Market open?
The Christmas market of Weimar is open from 26 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. It’s closed December 24/25 and January 1. Note that the Christmas market at Schillerstraße and Herderplatz only runs until 29 December 2019.
The opening times are:
- 10am-10pm Sundays to Thursdays
- 10am-11pm Fridays and Saturdays
- Huts are open from 10am-8pm
- Sunday shopping (regular shops and malls): 8 December 2019, 1pm-7pm (note: shops are normally closed on Sundays in Germany, so this is a big deal)
Why Visit Weimar?
First of all, you might wonder where Weimar is. The Republic of Germany is made up of 16 states and the most central one is called Thuringia.
Weimar lies pretty much in the middle of that state and in a way is the artistic centre of the state as well. (It’s where the Bauhaus movement started on April 1 1919, for instance.)
It used to attract artists, authors, painters, philosophers and more from all over Europe in the 19th century especially.
Weimar is super walkable and its centre is filled with well preserved historic houses, alleys, gardens, parks and even has a castle near the main marketplace.
How to Get to Weimar’s Christmas Market
Weimar is well connected to the trains in Germany. (Get the cheapest prices on Eurail passes here.) Get off at Bahnhof Weimar and out onto the plaza. Pro tip: If you’re staying in Jena or Erfurt, get a Hopper Ticket for 5,60 EUR one way. (It’s under VMT Ticket at the ticket machines. Validate it before boarding.)
From the train station, take bus 1, 4, 7 or 8 into the centre (stop Goetheplatz/Zentrum).
Alternatively – and what I always do because it’s a nice 20 minute walk –, just keep following the road, which goes on pretty much straight until you see a post office building to your left in front of another leafy square. To your left you can see the former city walls.
Walk along the city wall and turn into the street Wielandstraße. You will see the entrance to the Christmas Market in Weimar shortly. It’s right in front of the theatre and the statues of writers Goethe and Schiller.
How big is Weimar’s Christmas Market?
Weimar’s Christmas market sprawls out all the way from the theatre square through Schillerstraße, onto the main market place Markt with the town hall and over to the square in front of the Herder Church (HerderKirche). It’s a pretty similar setup to Weimar’s onion market in autumn.
In total, there are four Christmas market locations in Weimar: Theaterplatz, Schillerstraße and Marktplat und Herderplatz. If you follow the “trail” of Christmas stalls in Weimar, you’ll pretty much cover the entire ground for the Weimar Christmas markets.
What can you see at the Christmas Market in Weimar?
Live Christmas Tree
As is typical for many Christmas markets in the country, Weimar’s Xmas market boasts a real fir tree, which is especially grown for this purpose.
The tradition started in 1815 when local bookseller Hoffmann set up a Christmas tree for the first time on the marketplace.
He wanted to allow all children to rejoice over such a sight not just the ones in rich households. Word soon spread about this and neighbouring cities started doing it likewise.
This one isn’t a private advent calendar like you have at home.Each December the Weimar town hall turns into a giant Christmas calendar with each window being a door. Every day until 24 December, a door is opened, revealing a Christmasy picture.
Even a Santa makes an appearance and distributes presents among the crowd. There’s a special kids program in the Fairy Tale Hut (Märchenhütte).
Yes, Christmas food in Germany is a must and there are staples across markets all over Germany. BUUUUT, and I cannot stress this enough, Thuringia has amazing sausage and dumplings. So if you have never tried Thüringer Bratwurst, this is your chance.
There are a few stalls and you won’t be able to overlook them as they have a giant bratwurst sign on top.
Typical sweet German Christmas fare includes: stollen (cake-like fruit bread), Krapfen (beignets), caramelised nuts, lebkuchen, and chocolate covered fruits.
Traditional Christmas decorations
If you want to buy authentic Christmas decorations, both traditional and modern, go to a Christmas market and Weimar has such stalls as well, of course.
Think hand carved, wooden hangers, candle arches from the Ore Mountains (a German must have!) , Christmas pyramids or star-shaped paper lanterns. Furthermore, there are clothing items, lots of sweets, stationary and more.
Mulled Wine huts
Weimar has two mulled wine huts and they are run by the restaurant Sächsischer Hof. The first one is located on the marketplace and is the largest. (Look for the red mug on top of the hut.) The second one can be found at the theatre square.
Secure a standing table and hold your collectable mug tight. The weather in December is typically rather chilly. (More on what to wear/bring further down.)
Germans love to collect the mulled wine mugs. They are different from city to city and each year. You pay a deposit when you buy your Glühwein, which you get back when you return the mug. So if you kept it, it typically costs 5 EUR. An alternative alcoholic drink is Eierpunsch (“egg punch”).
Mulled wine is alcoholic so if that’s not your thing (I relate), try Kinderpunsch or hot chocolate. There usually are fruit infusion teas as well.
What is the weather like
As always: check the weather report. Temperatures are usually between 11 to 0°C (50-32°F). But don’t hope for snow. That one usually hits central Germany in January and February. It might just be chilly and windy.
But while that doesn’t sound incredibly pleasant it’s actually perfect for an Xmas market in Weimar. I once went on a pretty mild day and it’s just not the same feeling. You need that crispness and wanting to retreat into your layers and cuddle up to your friends. It’s part of the fun!
What to Wear
Never ever forget your jacket. Underneath, think layers. Wear a nice wooly jumper and long pants or skirts with warm tights.
I’ve found wearing thermal underwear makes all the difference. It also means you don’t HAVE to look like a Michellin man on icy days. Bring gloves, a hat, scarf and maybe a hand warmer if you get frosty finger tips easily like I do.
Backpacks are in the way on crowded days and while pickpocketing isn’t a big issue here, don’t be an easy target. Just be smart and don’t have anything valuable in outside pockets. There are pickpocket safe backpacks out there in case you don’t want to bring an extra smaller bag with you.
Where to Stay
Weimar has a variety hotels and guest houses both in the immediate centre and further out, but still walkable and connected to local bus lines. Christmas can get super busy, so book as soon as possible.
The most central and historically important city hotel is the Hotel Elephant overlooking the marketplace. From here, you’re right in the middle of the action. There’s free Wi-Fi in the lobby and the décor is tastefully modern with comfy beds and Bauhaus details. Have a look here.
There are also smaller guesthosues around. If you want to try something different, something hip and edgy, go with 36 Phô Cô Guesthouse. It’s super central and each rooms is uniquely decorated. It feels more like home rather than a hotel. Reserve rooms here.
If you want to be in a quieter area but still by one of the Christmas markets in Weimar, reserve a room at Goethezimmer Herderplatz. It’s a typical German guesthouse with homely design in floral tones. Rooms come with free Wi-Fi, flatscreen TV, a fridge and water kettle. Book here.
Alternatively, check out airbnb for listings. If you’ve never used it, here’s a 25 EUR voucher.
Now I wonder, to which Christmas market in Germany have you been before?
More Xmas markets
- Erfurt has 17 Christmas markets and is only 15 minutes away!
- Where to find Christmas markets in Naumburg
- Checking out Jena’s historical Christmas market
- The coolest Austrian Christmas markets
- What’s the Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg like?
- The best locations for London’s Christmas lights
- Austrian Christmas traditions to watch out for