How and where Christmas markets will take place in Germany

Many Christmas market have been cancelled in 2020. Yet throughout Germany, a handful of 'Weihnachtsmärkte' are still taking place, with restrictions in place. Here's an overview.

How and where Christmas markets will take place in Germany
A woman holds the typical Christmas market drink, Glühwein.

Strolling between decorated huts, sipping Glühwein (mulled wine) wrapped up in thick layers or admiring nativity plays – for many people, the colourful hustle and bustle at Christmas markets is part of the countdown to December 25th. 

Yet 2020 will look a little different, with one-way streets instead of an unorganised rush of visitors, food to-go replacing social gatherings around a tiny table, and a face mask in addition to a scarf and cap.

 Yet for some markets, even this has become too risky amid Germany's recent spike in coronavirus infections, leading to a number of recent cancellations.

For example, the world-famous Nuremberg Christmas Market was cancelled on Monday, following a string of other recent cancellations in Frankfurt, Berlin and Cologne.

READ ALSO: World famous Nuremberg Christmas market cancelled over Covid-19 concerns

So where are Christmas markets still happening?

Many parts of Germany are still hosting the markets – which normally attract millions of guests around Germany and the world. But there will be strict social distancing and hygiene restrictions in place.

In Munich, for example, where the market is scheduled to start on November 23rd, masks will be compulsory at the stands. The same goes for Bayreuth, which starts earlier this year, on November 16th.

To stop visitors from getting too close, the stalls will be spread out at intervals of five to ten metres. Alcohol may only be drunk following a registration and only in catering areas.

Many smaller markets in Bavaria, such as those in Fürth or Coburg, have, however, been shelved.

Several Christmas markets in North Rhine-Westphalia are also falling victim to the pandemic. Cologne's popular market at the foot of its Dom was one of the first to be axed in 2020. There will be no Christmas market in Düsseldorf’s city centre either, nor in AachenDuisburg or Münster.

People in Essen, on the other hand, can still look forward to their traditional Christmas market in the city centre, scheduled to start on November 13th. Instead of leisurely strolling around with cup in hand, people are planning with Glühweingärten, or “mulled wine gardens”, reported the Essen Marketing Gesellschaft. 

The Nuremberg Christmas market, which was cancelled for 2020. Photo: DPA

In this way, the market is to become safe and yet still festive. Masks, as with most open-Christmas markets, must be worn at the stands.

The typical Christmas market is still taking place in the centre of Leipzig, but Glühwein and other gastronomic offerings have been prohibited. 

Mayor Burkhard Jung of the Social Democrats (SPD) said the move was not an easy decision. But he said that the aim was to protect the health of the citizens. “And we want them to be able to visit their families at Christmas,” Jung said.

Preparations are also underway in Magdeburg, the capital of the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt. As in many other cities, the area for the stalls has been significantly expanded, so that the Christmas market now extends through other parts of the city centre.

Erfurt, on the other hand, will not be hosting the largest Christmas market in Thuringia this year. The health and economic risks have become incalculable in view of the increasing number of new infections.

“This is no longer justifiable,” said organiser Helmut Russ, who made the decision “with a heavy heart”.

Berlin already cancelled its famous Christmas market at Gendarmenmarket, but the market at Breitscheidplatz is to take place. Significantly fewer stands, more space allotted for passersby, and plastic tarpaulins as protection are planned, among other things, explained spokeswoman Angelika Grüttner.

Alternatives in southwest Germany

Further south in Baden-Württemberg, Christmas markets in Heilbronn, Freiburg and Karlsruhe have already been cancelled, while in Stuttgart and Mannheim they are also likely to be shelved for this year. Nevertheless, city centres are trying to make up for the lack of markets through a typical cosy Christmas atmosphere.

“More festive lighting should instead put people in the Christmas mood”, said a spokeswoman for the city of Heilbronn, for example.

In Hesse, too, there have already been cancellations – including for the Christmas market in Frankfurt.

Wiesbaden, on the other hand, is planning to go ahead with markets, spread over a larger area. The same applies to Mainz, the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate.

READ ALSO: Frankfurt cancels Christmas market as infections rise

Still up in the air

While many cities have already decided for or against a Christmas market, others have not yet reached a decision – for example in the northwest city-state of Bremen.

The decision will probably be made by the Senate this week, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced. In Lower Saxony, too, many Christmas markets still remain a big question mark for 2020.

It is also clear that increasing numbers of infections are more likely to lead to further cancellations through Germany, hitting artisans especially hard.


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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant