Ahhh the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt! (or Christmas Market). This was one of those things that we'd hear all of our coworkers getting excited about all during the autumn season. We kept thinking, what is so great about this? It's just a bunch of little huts with touristy christmas gifts. And wow, were we wrong. The Christmas market became one of our favorite things to do on a weekend night, and when we came back from the States in the New Year when it was already taken down, it felt like part of the city was missing.
In the center of the Nuremberg altstadt there is a big open clearing which is usually used for a weekend food market. But from November 25th - December 24th it is turned into a magical Christkindlesmarkt.
During this month, the city of Nuremberg is PACKED! No matter what time of day. So be prepared to have patience, especially since 80% of the people standing around you (including you) is holding a hot cup of delicious gluwein (mulled wine). Expect to get knocked into a few times, and learn how to hold onto that little mug tight so you don't spill any!
You'd be surprised with the amount of people we met that weren't from Germany. In fact, a lot of Americans traveled here just for this. And they couldn't believe that we actually lived here. (if only Nuremberg had this market up all year round)
The first thing to do once you get to the Christmas market is... get your hands on some gluwein! And that wont be difficult to do, about every 10 feet there is a stall selling it. (if you're lucky, you'll even get a cookie with it) One thing to note, it may look more expensive than you think, and thats because you pay a deposit on the mug (about 5 euros). So when you're done - bring the empty mug back to any stall selling gluwein and you'll get your deposit back.
Now that you have your warm mug of mulled wine, its time to wander up and down the stalls and shop. When it gets really crowded (friday or saturday nights), you'll end up walking through the stalls like a herd of sheep. If you see something you want to buy, you have to quickly and swiftly hop out of the herd without knocking anyone's wine. (easier said than done after you've had a few of those delicious but strong gluweins). There is also a nice little band set up in front of the church playing some festive holiday music. Its practically impossible to not be in the Christmas spirit while you're here.
The stalls are filled with all different types of Christmas themed goodies. Whether its heart shaped gingerbread, hand made ornaments, little people made of actual figs, 'make your own nativity scenes', or what looked like big mallowmars, you could easily get lost walking up and down the streets. And take our advice, if you find something you want to buy... buy it. Several times we said "ehh, we dont want to carry it all night, we'll come back later to buy it" and then we could never find it again!
And lastly... the Feuerzangenbowle. To quote wikipedia, it is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. It literally translates to "fire-tongs punch". So, as if gluwein wasn't strong enough, they add rum to it. When we saw this we looked at each other and said, well we should at least try one to see what its like! Which turned into two (which felt like 4).
If you are ever in Europe during Christmas time, I highly recommend stopping by a Christmas market. There is nothing like being bundled up, walking around a beautiful city shopping and drinking mulled wine while listening to Christmas music.