Yuletide traditions, time-honoured markets and old world charm

Christmas in Frankfurt and the surrounding regions

Yuletide traditions, time-honoured markets and old world charm

Christmas in Frankfurt and the surrounding regions

Whether in front of the traditional timber-frame houses of Frankfurt’s Römerberg, along the romantic River Rhine in Rüdesheim or around Erbach Palace in the picturesque Odenwald, the Christmas markets in Frankfurt and the surrounding regions bring out the very best in the holiday season, filling the crisp winter air with the scent of mulled wine, roast chestnuts, baked apples and pine needles. What’s more, this is also the perfect time to discover unique Christmas gift ideas and become acquainted with some of the region’s many ancient customs.

The Frankfurt Christmas Market, one of the oldest and most beautiful in all of Germany, stretches from the Hauptwache across St Paul’s Square and the Römerberg all the way down to the banks of the River Main. It is here that one finds Germany’s largest Christmas tree, set scenically in front of the Römer, Frankfurt’s time-honoured town hall. Stretching majestically towards the skies, it illuminates the old town centre with thousands of fairy lights. Frankfurt’s Christmas market is in fact famous for many things. Regional Christmas products like “Bethmännchen”, a delicate almond and marzipan biscuit, hot apple wine and “Quetschemännchen”, small figurines made of dried plums, allhave a long tradition in Frankfurt and also make for a tasty souvenir for friends and loved ones back home. Modern interpretations of old classics, like “Green Sauce” crêpes served with brisket of beef or delicious “Handkäs” fondue, have also gained in popularity over the years. The best place to enjoy these local culinary specialities is in one of the warm and cosy taverns situated all around the market.

The best way to become better acquainted with some of Frankfurt’s yuletide traditions and holiday delicacies is by taking part in the guided Christmas market tour, “Stories, Sweets& Savouries”. Highlights of the tour include a ride on the market’s historical merry-go-round and a visit of the rooftop gallery of St Nicholas Church, from where participants have wonderful views of the Christmas market, set festively before the imposing backdrop of the Frankfurt skyline. The Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board (TCF) offers these guided tours on all four Advent weekends. What’s more, an additional Christmas market tour specially conceived for the blind and vision-impaired is scheduled to be held on Sunday, 11th December. Please note that the tours are also bookable for groups in a variety of different languages.

Another historical gem of the Frankfurt Christmas Market is the 300-year-old timber-frame “honey house”, which is erected on St Paul’s Square every year for the duration of the market. Here, market visitors will find a wide variety of gift ideas made of natural honey and beeswax. Even better, many of the products on sale are available for sampling on the first floor of this time-honoured venue.

Every Wednesday and Saturday of the market, traditional Christmas sounds fill the air above the Römerberg. It is on these days at precisely 6:00 pm that the tower horns sound from the balcony of St Nicholas Church. On weekends, international Christmas carols are sung on the Römerberg stage. A life-size nativity scene, an essential component of every Christmas market, adorns the area next to the stage.

The Frankfurt Christmas Market features a truly superb selection of products. Traditional articles like Christmas ornaments, folk art from the Ore Mountains and handmade candles are as much part of the offer range as modern arts and crafts, the very typical “Dippe” pottery and homemade earthenware products. Local Frankfurt artists annually come together at an arts and crafts market held at the Römerhallen (“Roman Halls”) and St Paul’s Church to sell their latest creations. Here, visitors have the opportunity of securing a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas present. Those looking for a typical Frankfurt-style gift, meanwhile, are urged to drop by the TCF’s very own sales booth, situated directly beneath the Christmas tree on the Römerberg. Apple wine mustard, Frankfurt Crown Cake liqueur and this year’s version of the popular Christmas market mug are just some of the excellent gift ideas on sale here. Even those who have Christmas cards or other holiday mail to send will find a little bit of Frankfurt tradition to meet their needs with the special Christmas market stamp.

 

A more recent addition to the traditional Frankfurt Christmas Market is the so-called “Pink Christmas” at Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, a popular meeting place of the city’s LGBT community and friends. This offshoot market’s rustic wooden stalls sell old favourites as well as more modern concoctions, including hot cocktails, homemade soups and freshly made gingerbread. The entire market is lovingly decorated with much attention to detail yet also with a certain “pink” touch.

This year’s Frankfurt Christmas Market will be taking place from 23rd November to 22nd December 2016. Official opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00 am till 9:00 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am till 9:00 pm.

The Christmas market held in the Frankfurt city district of Höchst provides a similarly memorable experience. Höchst Castle with its Gothic-style keep is in fact well worth a visit on its own. It is in front of this picturesque setting that the Höchst Christmas Market will be taking place from 26th to 27th November. Here, local clubs, businesses and associations will be offering their wares at some 50 ornately decorated booths. A number of regional artists will also be there, presenting an array of beautifully handcrafted items. The so-called Höchst Design Parcours, meanwhile, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with regional designers showing their wares at various locations throughout the Höchst town centre.

There are of course also countless traditional Christmas markets held all throughout the region and inviting visitors for a leisurely stroll.

The Christmas markets of the idyllic Odenwald, for example, exude a cosy, old world charm of their very own. The Michelstadt Christmas Market (25th November to 18th December) is known far and wide for its scenic setting, setting up all around the historical town hall with its famous gabled roof and bay turrets. There’s a great deal to discover here amidst the town’s winding alleyways, with more than 100 traditional booths attracting visitors from all around. At the Erbach Palace Christmas, held on all four Advent weekends (26th/27th November, 03rd/04th, 10th/11th, 17th/18th December) visitors stroll across the beautiful marketplace, through the picturesque castle courtyard and along historical laneways. However, the best-known Christmas market along the mighty River Rhine takes place in the time-honoured town of Rüdesheim. Here, at the Rüdesheim Christmas Market of the Nations (24th November to 23rd December), exhibitors from more than a dozen countries present international gift articles and unique culinary specialities from their respective homelands. Last but not least, the traditional Hanau Christmas Market, held in the hometown of the famous Brothers Grimm (25th November to 22nd December), is known far and wide for its fairy-tale Christmas ambiance. The façade of Hanau’s town hall is transformed into a gigantic Advent calendar, illuminated by a sea of lights, together with countless, beautifully decorated wooden stalls creating an atmosphere that is truly second to none.

Further information:

Frankfurt Christmas Market

Frankfurt Christmas Market

21 November – 22 December 2022

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