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8 of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Germany

Want to try something different from the classic German Christmas market? Here are eight unique alternatives.

Burlesque dancers from the team around drag queen Olivia Jones drink mulled wine at a stand at the St. Pauli Christmas Market at Spielbudenplatz in 2016.
Burlesque dancers from the team around drag queen Olivia Jones drink mulled wine at a stand at the St. Pauli Christmas Market at Spielbudenplatz in 2016. Photo: picture alliance / Christian Charisius/dpa | Christian Charisius

1. Erotic Christmas market – St. Pauli, Hamburg

If you want to spice up your advent this year, then head to “Hamburg’s hottest Christmas market” in the city’s Sankt Pauli district.

Alongside the typical festive offerings of Glühwein and traditional stands, this market also hosts regular strip shows and features numerous stands selling erotic gifts and sweets.

Visitors walk through the Santa Pauli Christmas Market on Spielbudenplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The Spielbudenplatz stage in the market also plays host to live music almost every evening throughout the season.

On Mondays, a special Glühwein “pharmacy” offers unicorn mulled wine – a glittery pink beverage with a choice of special flavours. 

Open from November 14th to December 23rd

2. Underground Christmas Market – Traben-Trarbach, Rhineland-Palatinate

The town of Traben-Trarbach in Rhineland-Palatinate is home to a particularly special type of Christmas market.

The Mosel Wein Nachts Markt, as it’s officially called, takes place underground in a series of former wine cellars which date back to the 18th century.

A festively decorated wine cellar in Traben-Trarbach – at the Moselle Wine Night Market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Weinkeller Traben-Trarbach | Jan-Gerrit Baumann

As the name suggests, this Christmas market has a lot to offer in terms of wine, as it is set in the heart of the Mosel region which is famous for its Riesling.

READ ALSO: 5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

There’s an emphasis on art, antiquity and culture in this market too. International and national artisans and exhibitors sell decorative items, antiques, clocks and creative fashion and jewellery.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 18th to December 18th, 2022

3. Forest Christmas market – Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia

For a fairytale festive experience, visit the forest Christmas market in Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia.

The market has been running here on the land of the Krumme family in North-Western NRW since 1999 and is well-known throughout the region for its special brand of Christmassy magic.

Huts scattered throughout the forest serve up culinary delights and homemade goods and those wanting to warm up can visit the historic farmhouse café or nestle inside one of the winter huts.

Children can ride on the nostalgic train, bake stick bread at the crackling fire or meet Santa Claus.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 25th to December 18th, 2022

4. 19th Century Christmas market – Werben, Saxony-Anhalt

The Biedermeier Christmas Market in Werben is one of the most beautiful and unusual markets in northern Germany.

The theme is the Biedermeier period from 1815 to 1848 and, accordingly, stall owners, local theatre groups, merchants and friends of the town, participate in creating this early 19th century themed market.  

The Biedermeier Christmas market in Werben an der Elbe takes visitors back in time. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Jürgen Sturtzel

The market is always bustling with men in tailcoats and top hats, and ladies in long dresses and bonnets and is full of stalls selling contemporary knickknacks. There are theatrical and musical performances and, in the evening, candle lanterns and kerosene lamps bathe the hustle and bustle in atmospheric light.

Open on December 10th and 11th, 2022

5. Ecological Christmas Market – Berlin

For those feeling bad about the excesses of Christmas already, the Ökomarkt at Kollwitzplatz in Berlin is a good place for guilt-free shopping and celebrations.

The assortment of sustainable stalls ranges from Christmas decorations to textiles, toys and jewellery from all over the world that meet social and ecological standards.

READ ALSO: Seven unmissable Christmas markets that open this week in Germany

There is also a wide range of organic and fair trade food on offer, from sweet treats such as crêpes, vegan waffles and pastries to hearty dishes such as bratwurst and pizza.

Open on November 27th, December 4th, 11th, and 18th

6. Japanese Christmas Market – Berlin

Since 2014, the Japanese community in Berlin has been laying on a colourful celebration of Japanese culture with a Japanese Christmas market.

Stalls selling paintings, photography, ceramics, illustrations and fashion cover traditional and modern designs – from kimonos to kawaii, from kokeshi to kendama. A taste of Japanese cuisine is also on offer along with hot sake.

There are workshops for those wanting to deepen their knowledge of Japanese culture and the entertainment program includes Japanese music, karaoke, dance and sumo.

Opening in December – dates not yet released (check here for updates)

7. Pink Christmas Market – Munich

The pink star amongst Munich’s Christmas markets will be back again this year on Stephansplatz in the heart of the Glockenbach district in Munich. 

The Pink Christmas on the Stephansplatz in Munich. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Pink Christmas

With its elegant white pagoda tents and atmospheric light design – and abundance of pink – this Christmas market is a special spot to enjoy the festive season. Organisers call it “the place to be” for the LGBTIQ* community, neighbours, friends and Christmas market fans from all over the world.

READ ALSO: How do Germans celebrate Christmas?

Stalls offer delicious food, drinks and gifts, while unique, nightly shows keep the bustling crowds entertained. 

Pink Christmas is open from November 21st – December 23rd. 

8. Christmas Market by boat – Spreewald, Brandenburg

Spreewald is a magical place to visit at any time of the year but at Christmas, it’s something truly special.

The Spreewald Weihnacht – zwei Märkte, eine Kahnfahrt (two markets, one boat ride) offers a very unique Christmas market experience.

Visitors wait at the port of Lübbenau (Brandenburg) to take a Spreewald barge to the Christmas market in the open-air museum of the Spreewald village Lehde. Photo: picture alliance / Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Patrick Pleul

The first port of call is the Great Spreewald Harbor, where – amongst the usual Christmas market offerings – stalls and booths sell smoked fish, Christmas plinse and hot grog. Then, market-goers are taken on a wintry boat trip to the open-air museum in Lehde through the tranquillity of the Spreewald nature in hibernation.

In the Open Air Museum Lehde visitors can taste regional delicacies at the market stalls, stroll along the craftsmen’s market and meet some ancient mythical figures who offer good wishes for the coming year.

Open on November 26th, 27th and December 3rd and 4th

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For members


10 reasons to visit Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this summer

Though it may have escaped the radar of many foreign nationals living in Germany, the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is brimming with attractions and delights for tourists during the summer season.

10 reasons to visit Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this summer

Despite being the most popular  holiday destination for domestic tourists, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is woefully under-visited by non-Germans. According to the Lonely  Planet, 97 percent of tourists who flock to the region each year are German.

If foreigners have visited, it’s most likely to have been to the seaside Stadt of Rostock and maybe to see the stunning Schloss of Schwerin, the capital.

But the whole state has a slew of attractions – from majestic lakes to historic Hanseatic towns – which will leave all visitors in awe.

Lots of sunshine

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania regularly tops the list of Germany’s sunniest states and 2022 was no different. Last year, Germany’s most northeastern state was once again the sunniest federal state with 1,648 hours of sunshine. So sun-seekers planning a trip here over the summer are unlikely to be disappointed.

An abundance of water

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is not only blessed with abundant sunshine but it also surpasses all other German states with its water resources. With over 2,000 lakes and more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the ideal destination for watersports lovers, or for those just wanting to relax near refreshing bodies of water.

Stunning historical sites

From the fairy-tale-like Schwerin Castle on Lake Schwerin to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Wismar and Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has no shortage of well-preserved historical sites to visit.

Schwerin Castle in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bernd Wüstneck

The Hanseatic cities of Wismar and Stralsund provide visitors with a glimpse into the region’s rich maritime history and feature well-preserved architecture, including Gothic brick churches and merchant houses.

READ ALSO: Weekend Wanderlust: Following Dracula’s steps along the water in Wismar

Other highlights include the Neubrandenburg city wall – a medieval fortification which dates back to the 14th century and the Renaissance castle in the town of Güstrow.

Island escapes

If you want to feel like you’ve escaped Germany without actually having to leave the country, a visit to the Baltic Sea islands is just what you need.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is home to 25 islands and peninsulas, with Rügen, Usedom, Fischland-Darß-Zingst, Poel, and Hiddensee being the most renowned. Among them, Rügen claims the title of Germany’s largest island, spanning an impressive 930 square kilometres.

Rügen is best known for its beautiful white cliffs and the Jasmund National Park and if you’re visiting the island you should also head to the Königsstuhl vantage point for a breathtaking view of the Baltic Sea coast.

Thousands of manor houses and castles

In the past, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was home to countless dukes, princes and affluent Hanseatic citizens who left behind over 2,000 castles, manor houses, and stately homes in the region. Of these, more than 1,000 are listed buildings and around a third are open to visitors.

These houses not only provide tourists with a glimpse into the region’s past but many have also been transformed into cultural institutions that contribute to the local arts scene, hosting concerts, workshops and exhibitions throughout the year. 

A great place for artists

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has long been a place of inspiration for artists and many of the region’s manor houses have been repurposed as places to host artistic projects and workshops in the region.

One place with a particularly interesting artistic history is Ahrenshoop Beach: a picturesque artists’ village on the Fischland-Darß-Zingst Peninsula. The first artists’ settlement was founded here in around 1890 and over the years more and more creative people were drawn here, inspired by the beautiful natural surroundings.

Amazing beaches

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s extensive coastline offers a rich variety of beaches, each with its own distinctive charm.

Highlights include Warnemünde Beach near the town of Rostock, which offers visitors a broad expanse of sandy shores, beachside bars, watersports activities and an iconic lighthouse.

The wide sandy beach between Binz and Prora. Photo: picture alliance / Jens Büttner/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Jens Büttner

With its long stretch of soft sand, and crystal-clear waters, Binz Beach on the island of Rügen is widely acclaimed as one of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s finest beaches. 

Zingst Beach on the Zingst Peninsula is part of the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park and is celebrated for its unspoiled beauty, vast stretches of sandy terrain, and dune landscapes.

Kühlungsborn Beach boasts one of the longest stretches of coastline in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, extending over several kilometres. The beach also offers a picturesque promenade dotted with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Fish sandwiches

Probably the best-known dish from Western Pomerania is the Fischbrötchen: a locally sourced, fresh fish – usually herring – grilled or pickled, served in a crusty roll, with toppings such as onions, lettuce, and pickles.

Fischbrötchen is a popular street food snack and can be found sold in stalls next to beaches and in coastal towns throughout the region. It may not sound like much, but it’s really worth a visit to the region all by itself. 

READ ALSO: How Germany’s Baltic coast plans to honour its humble fish sandwich

Outdoor activities

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a perfect destination for those who enjoy an active summer holiday.  

Hiking enthusiasts can find plenty of trails in Müritz National Park, Jasmund National Park, and Mecklenburg Switzerland and those who prefer exploring on two wheels can try out some of the picturesque cycling routes. The Baltic Sea Cycle Route and the Mecklenburg Lakes Cycle Route are particularly popular choices.

The Serrahn beech forest in the Müritz National Park. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Nationalparkamt Müritz

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in the region’s nature reserves and national parks, which are teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park stands out as a prime spot to witness rare bird species and other captivating wildlife.

Wellness and Spa

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is home to numerous spa towns that offer a peaceful retreat to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Bad Sülze, for example, is a small spa town known for its therapeutic peat and moor mud. Visitors can enjoy mud baths and spa treatments and explore the nature trails and parks in the area.

Another notable spa town is Bad Wilsnack, renowned for its healing thermal saltwater springs.