I adored the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market when I visited last year. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture any images of the market in full swing when I was there because my old point-and-shoot camera was acting up and my cell phone camera was on the fritz. I’m so glad I could take some photos this time because this market is a real gem!
This past week, I went on an epic Christmas market tour with my Mom (who was visiting me from Canada) and my husband with the goal of fitting in as many as possible. No crowd was too daunting, no train or car trip was too long – we were ambitious in our quest for German (and French!) pre-Christmas loveliness. It was a great excuse to visit some new markets (Dresden! Strasbourg!) and check out my old favourites (like the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market).
My Mom and I kicked off Market Week 2015 in Tübingen at the Tübingen chocolART Chocolate Festival. Though not technically a Christmas market, it definitely got us in the market mood. We set out the next day for the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market located in Esslingen am Neckar, a beautiful city 14 km southeast of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg. We made the mistake of driving to Esslingen via Stuttgart during rush hour – it took much longer to get there than we’d anticipated. Tip: Take the S-Bahn to Esslingen if you want to avoid traffic and parking.
All of our traffic stress was forgotten as soon as we arrived – the lit up alleyways leading toward the festival bolstered our spirits. We approached the Marktplatz first and walked around the Christmas market. Here you can find your regular Christmas goods like ornaments, scarves, candles and the like, as well as typical festival food (Bratwurst, roasted nuts, and I even spotted raclette). I barely spent any time at the Esslingen Christmas market last year because I was so fixated on seeing the Medieval market, but do stop through the regular Christmas market at the Marktplatz as it’s quite lovely and lit up with lights everywhere.
Even though the Christmas market would be enough of a draw for visitors, the main attraction is definitely the Medieval market. The beautifully-preserved half-timbered buildings surrounding the Rathausplatz are the perfect backdrop for the market’s medieval flags, torches and banners. Craftspeople, blacksmiths, basket-makers and glass-blowers display their goods, while jugglers, stilt-walkers and entertainers perform to the visitors’ amusement.
A photo posted by Kaffee und Kuchen (@kaffeeundkuchenblog) on
To quell our hunger, we feasted on sweet waffles, hearty potato soup, apple-fried donuts and savoury oven-baked bread on a stick. All items are whimsically priced in Taler, the former medieval form of currency in the region (though you pay for items in Euros).
We sipped on some flavoured Glühwein in crest-stamped clay mugs while we watched small children ride the wooden hand-cranked ferris wheel at an alarming speed.
We also played a round of Mäuseroulette (aka mouse roulette). We tried to play last year but the mouse was on break when we tried to play ! After paying a small fee to play, you get to select a polished stone from a basket (yours to keep). You then place your stone on a section of the arena, the section where you think the mouse will run into when she’s placed in the centre of the arena. Our mouse was called Paula and she almost picked our section – S gasped as she almost went in which I think startled her and maybe scared her away….oh well. The adorable toddler next to us won so all was well.
The Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market is a fantastic one to visit (and one I recommend on my list of 5 German Christmas Markets to Visit!). It does get extremely busy, especially during the evenings and on weekends. Tip: Aim to go on a weekday afternoon when it’s less crowded.
The Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market runs from November 24 – December 22, 2015 and is open from 11am – 8:30pm daily. For more information about the market as well as the daily cultural program, please visit the Esslingen website.
Have you been to a Medieval market before? What did you think? Did your hair smell like campfire too afterward?