Munich’s Best: Christmas Markets

Nuremberg might be home to Germany’s most famous Christmas markets, but they don’t have quite as many delightfully offbeat Christmas markets as Munich does. I’ve rounded up the creme de la creme for you – from traditionally quaint to pink and extravagant.

The oldest and most popular of Munich’s markets is at Munich’s main square – Marienplatz. The focal point is the colossal 70-year-old tree, decorated with 3,000 lights. Head there as dusk falls – Christmas carols will be performed from the town hall’s balcony at 5:30pm every evening, and there’s nothing more festive than a mug of mulled wine and some carols on a cold winter’s night.

One of the biggest Christmas attractions is the Krampus Run, which will be held on December 9 and 23 at Marienplatz (3pm-5pm). The anthropomorphic Krampus, whose name apparently derives from the German word kralle, meaning claw, is a terrifying, mangled creature who is St. Nicholas’ malevolent counterpart. Whereas plump and jolly St. Nicholas brings well-behaved children sweets, Krampus deals with the mischievous kids. On this day, dozens of German adults will dress up as Krampus and chase kids through the streets, terrifying them into good behaviour.

Just around the corner from Marienplatz is the Residenz palace. There’s a very quaint Christmas market in one of the palace’s ten courtyards – which offers shelter from biting winds when the weather’s particularly wintry.

And just a five-minute walk away from Residenz is the medieval Christmas market – a smoky, folkloric affair, where you can find stands selling drinking horns, calligraphy wares and copper bowls while sipping on mead and indulging in sausages roasted over an open fire.

Two of the most idyllic neighbourhood Christmas markets are in Haidhausen and Sendling – the atmosphere at the markets at Harras is so welcoming – everyone seems to know everyone else, and they do a rather tasty mulled beer.

Tollwood is back at the Theresienwiese in winter, along with its alternative market stands, focus on the environment and plethora of food stalls (the churros are delicious). Make sure you catch some of the exhibitions in between sipping mulled wine, and head to the cosy Tief-im-Wald bar to catch a local band.

The Märchenbazar has moved from the meatpacking district to Leonrodplatz. It’s an intimate little market with lots of local bands, activities for kids and small, independent stalls, and it’s one of my favourites.

And finally, celebrate diversity at Pink Christmas, established twelve years ago by Munich’s gay community. It’s one of the city’s most colourful markets, with performances from the likes of Whitney Houston tribute singers. It’s less packed than the Marienplatz and Residenz markets, but still very close to the shops, so you can do your Christmas shopping and reward yourself with a lovely evening there afterwards.

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