We are in the middle of the time when the day turns dark and winter has set in. All over the world, people fight back the murky darkness with Christmas lights, candles and torches. Winter blues is overcome with merrymaking, Christmas carolling and punch.
In Germany, especially, they mix all the above thing together – throw in some “Mutzen”, “Bratwürstchen” and “Lebkuchen” and make the world’s best Christmas markets.
While the Christmas markets in Berlin are definitely worth a visit, they don’t have the same historical gravitas as those in Lübeck in northern Germany. The Christmas markets in Lübeck date back to 1648, where the market by the Rathaus, City Hall, was first mentioned in official documents. Today, more than two million guests visit the nine different Christmas markets in the small UNESCO heritage awarded old town island. From more than 200 stalls you can buy decorations for the Christmas tree, toys and maybe the Christmas presents for your family? All while inhaling the smell of roasted almonds, “glühwein”, crepes and “bratwürstchen”.
Christmas Wonderland at Obertrave
Entering Lübeck at the famous Holstentor, we turn right after Hostenbrücke and head for the Christmas Wonderland at Obertrave. This cosy, narrow Christmas market has tents with ideas for presents, a stall that sells all kinds of hot drinks – with or without alcohol. Green coniferous trees create small oases for enjoying that mulled wine, torches are lit in the evening and benches are ready to relieve the tired legs. A “Wunschbaum”, a wish tree, and a “Kussbogen”, a kissing arch, contributes to the good spirit. One of the tents even has a baking class for children and we saw 10 youngsters pressing star shaped moulds into their flattened dough.
Handicraft Christmas market St. Petri
We head east from here to St. Petri church, where the indoor Handicraft Christmas market St. Petri is held inside the white, airy church. Here you’ll find a special selection of handicraft artworks such as ceramics, woodworks and textiles to jewelry, glassware and amber. The St. Petri café makes sure you don’t lack food or beverages. The entrance fee of 2,5€ includes entrance to the 50 metre high church tower, from where you can enjoy wonderful views of the Christmas capital.
The Christmas Market at Markt
From the church, we steer towards the mothership of Christmas markets in Lübeck: The Christmas Market at Markt, in front of the Rathaus. With a scenic medieval backdrop and Christmas light garlands crowning this historic market, you can spend hours here enjoying the ambiance, tasting “Glühwein”, Lumumba, “Feuerzangenbowle” or punch and savor “Mutzen”, Crepes, “Bratwurst”, “Currywurst”, crab meat sandwich, gingerbread and roasted almonds.
This market is both the heart and stomach of Lübeck. There are plenty of stalls to buy Christmas presents as well, whether is handmade leather bags, a warm muff, delicious jams and spices, kitchen utilities in olive wood or beeswax candles.
Historical Christmas Market
North of Markt, at the feet of Marienkirche, the Historical Christmas Market takes place in the old cemetery. This market is filled with medieval ambiance and transports you back to ancient times. Copper- and silver-smiths show their craft at work and the outcome, musicians in historical dresses play fitting tunes and the many stalls sell all kinds of items with historical features such as jewellery, clothes, woodworks, leatherworks and fleeces. In the evening, when fires are lit, the yellow flames cast light and shadows on the red brick walls of the church and on the faces of people warming themselves by the fire.
Fairytale Forest at Marienkirche
On the other side of Marienkirche, childhood stories come to life in the Fairytale Forest at Marienkirche. Puss in boots, Snow White and the seven dwarfs and Cinderella and all of your other childhood heroes and heroines are waiting to take you and your family to the wonderful world of fairytales. Twenty Christmas stalls and a Postal office for your letters to Santa is found here! Because it’s primarily for the kiddies, this market closes a bit before the other – at 7 o’clock.
Schrangen Christmas Market
East of Marienkirche, the pedestrian street of the same name is converted to the Schrangen Christmas Market. This relaxed and quiet market with its temporary evergreen woodland offers a mulled wine bar and rustic gastronomy. Evocative Christmas carols and German horn concerts make perfect audile contributions to the angelic atmosphere.
Lübeck’s pedestrianized street is called Breite Strasse, which translates to Wide Street. However, the street is somewhat narrower during the Christmas season, as lots of stalls flank the road towards other Christmassy adventures and provide hot beverages for cold hands and thirsty throats.
We continue north on this boulevard to St. Jakobi church, where the signpost Wunschpunsch, wish punch, lures us inside the church. We open the door to find the whitewashed vestibule lit with Christmas lights. To the right they’re serving punch, to the left you can either stand by the huge oak barrels or sit on the old, wooden bench while absorbing the ambiance. Further inside the church, the ceiling of the nave is lit up with projections of photographs of the popular local photographer Thomas Radbruch.
Wunschpunsch is held from 4 to 8 o’clock and if you arrive at 5 o’clock, you can enjoy the 20 minute long organ concert.
Maritime Christmas Market
The last stop of our Christmas-market-crawl is the Maritime Christmas Market just north of St. Jakobi. With a huge ferris wheel, this northernmost Christmas market in Lübeck is hard to miss and is a festive end to the tour. Old wooden barrels, nets and a stranded shipwreck offer visitors a maritime milieu. Historic buildings surround the square, which gives the market a very beautiful setting.
Read all about the Christmas Markets of Lübeck at www.luebeck-weihnachtsmarkt.de or our article about other Christmas markets in Germany.