Christmas markets had been described to me like somewhat of a fairytale.Endless supplies of treats, a variety of meat options every few steps, and a lingering smell of cinnamon and cloves. Throw in a bit of shimmering lights and tiny little wooden stalls, and it is all of a sudden magical.
Most European towns will have one at some point during November or December, but the best ones last the whole season and occupy (at the least) the entire town square.
For my first Christmas market experience, Braunschweig surely delivered.
Every year, the areas around St. Blasii Cathedral are filled with artisans and vendors, decorating their stalls and offering various gifts, toys, or other creations. On from November 23 – December 29, the 500 year tradition is actually one of the more popular markets in Germany.
Immediately, I saw the shimmering lights of vendor stalls, and smelled the sweet scent of Gluhwein.
Each wooden house was decorated to its finest, with strings of twinkling lights, wreaths, nativity scenes, and hand carved signs. Each one enticing you to stop by for a moment or two.
Groups of friends and families stood around tables, enjoying each other’s company, as well as the fruits of the market, while littles went round and round on the carousel.
I, myself, did a bit of taste tasting and grabbed a hot chocolate in a traditional mug. For you other first timers, a deposit for the mug is typically included in the price of the drink – so, as long as you’re willing to forego the odd 2 Euros, you’ll be left with the perfect souvenir.
My favourite of all, however, was the larger than life Christmas pyramid.
You can spend all day at the market, and after talking to a few locals, they tend to do just that.
But if you thought the daytime version was splendid, just wait for the evening. That is when the real show begins.
It’s an experience I won’t forget, and one I highly recommend. Even if it means a flight overseas. Back in Canada, we just don’t have Christmas like this, so it was something truly special to experience. And, well, I think I might just be addicted!
Braunschweig, you stole the show!