Nuremberg Holiday Market
December 19th, 2020
After yesterday’s festivities in Strasbourg, today we’re making the fifth and final stop on our European holiday market tour. Of the markets I’ve been to, I saved the best for last. Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt has vintage charm, hand-crafted beauty and that something extra that vaults it straight into your heart. Oh, Nuremberg, you are everything we miss about life in 2020… good times, great food, holiday cheer and togetherness.
Enjoy the market and hope for its return in 2021.
Repost of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.
Click on any photo in the gallery to view the images as a slideshow.
It’s time to fill your mug of gluhwein and get ready for the grandmother of all holiday markets. Few, if any, can rival the history and handmade nature of Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt. The market has existed in some form since the mid-1600s and, as a result, conveys a strong feeling of tradition and the true meaning of Christmas. Nearly everything sold at the market is made by hand so there’s a special quality to the gifts and souvenirs found here.
My husband J spent many years of his childhood in Nuremberg, so returning here was a chance for him to reconnect with the city while also enjoying the market… and lots of Nuremberger sausages, too! I have heard about these Nuremberger sausages for years. They are lore in his family, and have even been hand-carried by his mother all the way back to the U.S. as precious cargo to be consumed and savored from abroad. Part of my market experience was to eat one (at least) and see what all the hullabaloo was about.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt starts on the Friday before Advent and lasts through Christmas Eve. It was pouring rain and very cold on the first night of the market but we waited it out, heard the opening night speeches and songs, and watched as the lights turned on.
We stayed in Nuremberg for five days, visiting the market every day and night – sometimes just to eat and other times to walk the rows and rows of market stalls and side streets all dressed up for the holidays. We strolled with gluhwein and marveled at the craftsmanship of everything on display. Frauenkirche Nürnberg (Church of Our Lady) looks over the market from the east side. We climbed the stairs to the deck late one afternoon to see the Christkindlesmarkt from above, in all its bustling splendor.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt really is a sea of Christmas! The stalls overflow with color and light, and nearly every inch of space holds a trinket or ornament or character.
The vendors are sometimes hard to see amidst the effusive display of everything holiday. To see and appreciate everything takes time, and staying primed with food and drink is crucial to any foray into this spectacle!
Among the handmade items of the Christkindlesmarkt, you’ll find painted cookies made into ornaments, edible cookies and various kinds of lebkuchen, stacks of dark and dense fruitcake, and shelves full of painted Santas and nutcrackers. If you desire some kind of heirloom, start a collection with a miniature painted house and build a village over the coming seasons. Or maybe a painted glass ornament with the town and the year is the perfect small token to box up, slip into your suitcase and hang on your tree at home.
By the end of our days in Nuremberg, I had eaten my fair share of Nuremberger sausages. Verdict? They are delicious. With so many grills full of them at the market, and options to eat them sliced or stuffed into buns with hot mustard (only a few Euros!) it was futile to resist. They are uniquely spiced and pair perfectly with mulled wine and a sweet dampfnudel for dessert.
We ended our stay in Nuremberg with a wonderful meal at the historic Heilig-Geist-Spital restaurant, tucked away in an old stone building overlooking the River Pegnitz. The restaurant has been here for decades – J’s family dined here when he was a teenager. The place oozes German character with its heavy interior, communal tables and menu filled with Bavarian classics. Plates are heaped with steaks, schnitzels, knuckles, potatoes, spätzle and more. The atmosphere gets livelier as the day goes on – you can linger over a late afternoon lunch or prost with your neighboring diners during the evening hours when every seat is filled. This is the kind of place that every city needs, where people go to share great food with friends, old and new.
If you love the holidays then Europe’s magical markets really are something to experience at least once in your life. Skip the holiday shopping and splurge on travel instead. You’ll have stories to tell, photos to share and memories to keep forever. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!