After missing out last year, I finally got the chance to visit the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market last week! S and I made plans to go with some friends on a Wednesday evening thinking we might be able to avoid the weekend crowds. We arrived at about 7pm and were a little surprised to see how packed it was even on a weekday! The Esslingen Christmas Market, and especially the adjoining Medieval Market, are hugely popular during the Christmas season. I’m sure if we’d gone on a Saturday or Sunday it would have been even busier.
I wish I had more photos of the market to share in this post but it was already dark when we arrived and I struggled to get clear shots of the market. (Side note: I was fumbling around with my 10 year old point-and-shoot camera for the first half hour of our visit, switching between the nighttime setting and automatic setting, trying flash and no flash, and even giving the ill-attempted fireworks setting a go. It was blursville. Sorry everyone, I tried! I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it that’s it’s an awesome market worth visiting).
Since I don’t have photos to share, I thought I’d list some of my favourite elements and notes about the market:
- The Christmas Market and the Medieval Market close promptly at 8:30pm to respect the neighbours living around the market square. Therefore, I suggest arriving earlier in the day so you won’t feel rushed to see and experience everything at the market. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after arriving too late to the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market, but I guess I didn’t! I bet arriving about an hour before dusk would be ideal so you can see the market in the daytime (and therefore get some good photos) but also experience the market at night, which is pretty magical.
- The Christmas Market has all the usual German market elements (candied nuts, Glühwein, Bratwurst, ornaments, etc.), while the Medieval Market is filled with unique stands selling old-timey drinking horns, Met (an alcoholic drink made from honey), medieval clothing, pottery, and more.
- The staff are all dressed in period clothing and we saw a few visitors in medieval garb, too! The staff working in the games section of the market (ax throwing, archery, knock the egg off the stump, etc.) really liven up the atmosphere so if you’re inclined to play, definitely have a go!
- Instead of Euros, the cost of food and games at the Medieval Market is listed in Taler, a silver coin previously used in Europe for 400 years. (Fun fact: the word ‘dollar’ comes from Taler). You can pay for things in Euros, though!
- Come hungry! There are all kinds of yummy things to eat; waffles, wild boar, and hearty soups were notable favourites in our group. I had a bowl of potato soup that warmed up my hands and stomach.
- The Pfand (aka deposit) for the medieval clay mugs and bowls is 5 Taler (aka Euro). They are different from your typical German Christmas Market mugs with the local cityscape and city name on them, so it would make a fun keepsake. Don’t drop them if you want your Pfand back!
We only had a short time at the market before it closed and I really wish we could have stayed longer. There’s always next year!For more detailed information about the market (and lovely photos!), I highly recommend checking out the following blog posts from my fellow expat bloggers:
- Traveling Hopefully: Experiencing Christmas Past at the Esslingen Mittelaltermarkt
- Ami in Schwabenland: Esslingen’s Christmas Market and Medieval Market
- Traveling Igloo: In Photos: The Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market
Have you been to a medieval market?