Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 20, 2012 3:55 PM Last Post By: marcopolko
Nov 18, 2012 2:17 AM
Christmas marketsIt's that time of year again and there are lots of posts about Christmas markets, particularly in Germany.
For those of you who go to them or who have been at least once, what is the attraction? I went once to one here where I live (southwestern France) and found it full of little booths selling food and artsy-type gifts. My husband went to one in Strasbourg and found it completely over-priced for what kind of little cookies or whatever they were selling. There is a big one in Paris nowadays, but from the pictures I have seen, it's more of the same.
So, are the German ones much better? Why? Is it ever worth going to several or are they quite similar?
Nov 18, 2012 4:22 AM
1'full of little booths selling food and artsy-type gifts' & (usually) 'over priced' - it ain't that much different over here - though I'd add 'can be extremely crowded, bring your steel-capped boots & be aware of pickpockets' to round it off.
those markets generate an atmosphere that can be alluring, especially after sunset and when located in a nice surrounding (oldtown, small village etc. - the one I visited in France was in La Défense and somewhat lacked these qualities). they can be fun when going with friends after work for a cup of mulled wine - perhaps that justifies the large number of food/drink stalls. there are occassionally stalls that indeed sell unique stuff, but their number is minuscule. big christmas markets never held much thrill for me and I cannot see I'll take an effort visiting one again anytime soon. there's however a rising number of smaller, 'independent' christmas markets with good arts and crafts that can be worth checking out...
it's a bit different in the countryside, where these markets are often held just for a weekend and where it's more of a social event for locals, local societies etc. - a bit like a church fair where you will meet people and folks you've sometimes barely seen that year.
if the concept hasn't grasped you yet, I doubt it'll do in the future :-)
Nov 18, 2012 6:37 AM
2I hadn't thought about how much the sellers have to pay.
Just found that in Lille, a chalet for 6 weeks costs between 3200 and 6400€. They get 1 million visitors. From the few bits of information I found, they get their money back quite quickly, but especially in larger cities with a lot of customers.
You're right, Nautiker. The idea of pushing my way through crowds to look at overpriced stuff doesn't excite me.
Nov 18, 2012 7:21 AM
3in a small town I know the rent is 120,- for friday afternoon-sunday evening, including the hut itself, general decoration, illumination, security, waste disposal, scavengery, advertising etc. - mind you, it's mainly local societies and individuals taking these spaces, thus you cannot charge too much (and if I recall correctly, the food stalls have a higher fee, since they're the ones actually making money)... :-)
Nov 18, 2012 9:25 AM
Nov 18, 2012 9:32 AM
Nov 18, 2012 12:22 PM
6Here's Kerouac2's take on the Lille market...
I imagine there are more postings on anyport...I know Kerouac2 has posted Paris Christmas pages before..
(for those who haven't seen photos of Christmas markets)
Nov 18, 2012 1:28 PM
Nov 18, 2012 1:28 PM
Nov 18, 2012 2:15 PM
Nov 18, 2012 10:56 PM
10I have to admit that I've never seen the attraction of Christmas markets. I live in Cologne which is well-known for its Christmas markets and I avoid them like the plague. Not interested in elbowing my way through crowds to buy overpriced candles and the like and I'd rather sit in a pub than drink glühwein standing outside in the cold. I'm always surprised at all the people willing to travel long distances just to see them. But then I'm not a lover of Christmas either - Bah Hambug :-)
Nov 20, 2012 3:23 PM
11Having lived for eight years a few blocks away from one of Europe's largest and most visited Christmas markets in Stuttgart I have made numerous observations while enjoying visiting it and frequently doing so.
First, if you want to actually shop and buy things at a Christmas market, visit when they first open at 10 or 11 in the morning. Besides the people working there, you will be one of the few other people present. Although the Stuttgart market gets over 4 million visitors, it is even true for it.
Christmas markets aren't only for foreign visitors, but also for the local population. How many Santa smokers, Christmas pyramids or other such things can you buy??? Those non-Christmas items are what the local population may want to buy, such as a small stuffed bear wearing Lederhosen wearing a knapsack for one of my young grandsons, perhaps a vegetable slicing, chopping, etc. implement for ourselves, or some special house slippers. I always appreciate the two stands selling brushes of all types, and if I have a real cleaning problem I can get excellent advice.
The markets are at the most atmospheric at night when crowded with people eating and drinking and the lights add to the atmosphere. Of course, they are also most crowded then.
Food can vary greatly, it should not be only sausage. The Stuttgart market offers a very wide range of food (similar to the variety in different types of restaurants) of which I particularly like the mackerel cooked on a stick and salmon cooked on boards in front of a wood fire. I always eagerly awaited the arrival of the Finns and their salmon!!!!
Christmas markets are all over, and I've visited quite a few in various settings such as large cities to villages, palaces, castles, and farms. All have their attractions.
There are also themed Christmas Markets such as the Esslingen Medieval and Christmas Market, just lovely set in the midst of the medieval oldtown of one of Germany's largest undestroyed towns (particularly nice in the evening when lit by torches), and the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market set on the town square between the Protestant and Catholic churches of this Baroque town which is particularly nice at night when the large angels are lit up.
Some Christmas markets are a joy to visit in themselves, others aren't worth crossing the road for them. Although many sell similar items, there should be some stalls that have more unique ones.
The degree of decoration of the stalls can vary highly, with some places having basically no decoration and others such as Stuttgart where the roofs of the booths are highly decorated, probably the best of anywhere in Germany.
But what I enjoy most about the Christmas markets are seeing little children enjoying themselves and the smiles on their faces. I always enjoy the young children at the Stuttgart market pushing penguins or dwarfs around the ice skating rink to balance themselves, or the very young children riding the small real steam engine pulled train.
Oh, markets in small places may be more crowded than more highly visited ones in big cities. We've had several friends turn back from visiting the excellent weekend market in Bad Wimpfen because of traffic jams near the town well before they even reached it. The Stuttgart market has taken great pains to avoid overcrowding, and now I've visited it on weekends during the afternoon and evening without getting that trapped feeling of gridlock being trapped in its center.
I really can't see someone wanting to spend all their time in Christmas markets. Go to places where you can sight see during the day, and enjoy the market's atmosphere in the evening which will also give you something to do. But Christmas markets are an excellent chance for locals to perhaps visit places that are only open to the public at this time.
Nov 20, 2012 3:55 PM
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