It’s (almost) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The Christmas market booths have started going up, Stuttgart’s outdoor ice-skating rink, the Wintertraum (winter dream), is up and fully operating, and there are already a couple of stands selling Glühwein.

I’m so excited, I can barely stand it.

The Christmas season is almost upon us – which means the European towns will dress up in lights, booths, and spirits in a way that has sadly not translated in the States. I love each season here for various reasons, but the Christmas season is without a doubt when Europe is at its finest. Each town – large and small – embraces the season in ways that are so inviting it is impossible NOT to get into the holiday spirit. And the wait is almost over!!

My mom will be boarding a plane is less than a week to join me in exploring all of these wonderful markets…and when I say all, our itinerary is packed full – including a trip to Roma! – with nothing but Christmas market after Christmas market. (I feel John is excited she is coming to..mostly because it means I won’t be dragging him to all of these markets with me!)

When I started figuring out where my mom and I had to go, I started with the ones I visited last year and went from there. My top favorites (and ones we will be visiting) are:

1. Esslingen Medieval Market

Esslingen is a cute little town about 20 minutes outside of Stuttgart, and is home to some of my favorite festivals! In the spring, there is a wine walk through vineyards. In the summer, there is a strawberry festival, and in the winter is the Medieval Market! Throughout the old town, the theme of Medieval is stretched from the old-fashioned ferris wheel, the ability to buy all the period clothing you could want, and food cooked over open fires. It is awesome.

The Rathaus - location of the main market.

The Rathaus – location of the main market.

The Ferris Wheel for kids.

The Ferris Wheel for kids.

Period dresses anyone?

Period dresses anyone?

2. Stuttgart Christmas Market

It’s so nice having a cool market right in our backyard! Stuttgart is stretched throughout the main pedestrian area and multiple squares. There is the ice-skating rink, rides for kids, including a choo-choo train, and booths that take hours to walk through. This is where my mom and I will start our Christmas market tour!

Where the magic begins!

Where the magic begins!

Ice skating anyone?

Ice skating anyone?

Kids are so lucky...another cool ferris wheel!

Kids are so lucky…another cool ferris wheel!

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

3. Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg = best display of Christmas lights I have ever seen. Each street is lined with lights, and it seems like each one is different. I spent pretty much the whole time looking up! Another bonus is the sister-city section of the Christmas market – last year, a group from Croatia set up shop and I bought cute Croatian ornaments for my grandmas!

This sign doesn't lie - Strasbourg is the Capital of Christmas...at least the lights part!

This sign doesn’t lie – Strasbourg is the Capital of Christmas…at least the lights part!

The gorgeous cathedral is even prettier with the lights!

The gorgeous cathedral is even prettier with the lights!

So pretty!

So pretty!

Another street, more decorations!

Another street, more decorations!

4. Nuremburg Christmas Market

Nuremburg has made multiple lists of Christmas markets to visit, and with good reason. Nuremburg is home to the original bratwurst, and is famous for its lebkuchen (gingerbread) and the Christkind – who has been a symbol since Martin Luther and the reformation. The entire city is dressed up, and there are a variety of markets to visit – one for children, and one for all of Nuremburg’s sister cities, including Atlanta, Georgia.

Last year, this was the last market I visited...good to go out with a bang!

Last year, this was the last market I visited…good to go out with a bang!

The Christkind handing out presents to the children.

The Christkind handing out presents to the children.

The famous gingerbread!

The famous gingerbread!

The Nuremburg Bratwurst!

The Nuremburg Bratwurst!

Rows and rows of cute stalls underneath the striped tents!

Rows and rows of cute stalls underneath the striped tents!

5. Heidelberg Christmas Market

Heidelberg’s market isn’t really that big, but it is in the shadow of one of the coolest castles in Germany, and equal time is spent exploring the markets and the town.

The Heidelberg castle

The Heidelberg castle

Love the decorated booths!

Love the decorated booths!

View from the Castle!

View from the Castle!

Like I said, my mom and I’s schedule is jam-packed! Each day will be filled with at least two different markets! This year, we will hit a few markets I didn’t get to last year, including the one in Zurich, Switzerland, Colmar, France, and towns along the Rhine. And of course, we can’t miss Rothenburg ob der Tauber, where the Kathe Wolfart Christmas ornaments are made! Not to mention, enjoying Piazza Navona in Roma in all it’s Christmas glory! Expect a full report to follow! 🙂

 

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