In Canada, we don’t start seeing Christmas decorations or yuletide merchandise until November 1 (after all the Halloween costumes and candy are off the shelves). In Germany, I’ve seen Christmas trees and lights in big stores as early as mid-October. I suppose this is because Halloween isn’t very popular in Germany, so there is no holiday standing in the way of getting into the Christmas spirit a little early. After all, Christmas is the main event in terms of holidays in Germany!
This year, the Stuttgart Christmas Market runs from November 26 – December 23 and can be located in the Marktplatz, Schillerplatz and around the Altes Schloss. There will be over 280 stalls selling local culinary specialties (Bratwurst, candied nuts, Swabian dishes, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts come to mind) and Christmas gifts and decorations. There are concerts held in the courtyard of the Altes Schloss and even a small outdoor ice rink for those inclined to strap on some skates.
The heart of the market happens to be just steps away from my German school in downtown Stuttgart. Imagine my delight when I came across a few stalls already set up early this week selling Glühwein, candied nuts, chocolate-dipped fruit on a stick and other tasty treats. Today I bought S some candied almonds and milk chocolate-covered pineapple (his favourites) to ring in the start of the Christmas market season.
I’d love to visit as many markets as possible since this will be my first full Christmas season living in Germany (S and I went to Canada last year over the holidays). Some of the best ones are in smaller towns – I find that they are a little less crowded and often a little cheaper than the bigger markets while still offering the same goods. I am really looking forward to checking out the Esslingen Medieval Market and Christmas Market which I didn’t get the chance to visit last year but have heard is amazing. I’ll certainly let you all know how it is when we visit!