Munich has become the first major city in Germany to announce it will cancel its beloved Christmas market for 2021, following a stark rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

The Munich Christkindlmarkt dates back to the 14th century and is considered one of the oldest markets in the country. The main market, held in front of the neo-Gothic town hall in Marienplatz, had been scheduled to open on November 22 and continue through January 9, 2022. 

The Munich market is one of over 2000 Christmas markets held througout Germany.  It is viewed as a 'destination market', with visitors flying in from other countries to enjoy the festive atmosphere.  It is famous for its wooden stalls adorned with green-and-white striped cloths filled with traditional gingerbread, grilled sausages, mulled wine and hand-painted trinkets. 

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter said he made the difficult decision to cancel for this year, after meeting with pandemic officers from the Bavarian city’s hospitals. He said they “unanimously warned against holding the market."

Read more: Traveling to Europe? What to know about new COVID-19 rules as infection rates climb

Munich cancels its beloved Christmas market for 2021​​​​​ ©Romrodphoto/Shutterstock

"The Chistkindlmarkt would of course have been a nice pre-Christmas sign of more normality, but unfortunately, despite the possibility of vaccinations, we are currently far from this normality, partly because still not enough people have had themselves vaccinated," Reiter, Munich’s mayor, said in a statement posted on the Christkindlmarkt website. At present, just over 67% of Germans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Germany's 2G Health Pass System

Reiter said holding the market, even under Munich's 2G rules which allows markets to limit entry to those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from the virus, would send the wrong signal. 

“The Chistkindlmarkt is out in the fresh air, but the Munich Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz and the surrounding squares in particular cannot be fenced off and the number of guests and compliance with the 2G rule would therefore be impossible to control,” Reiter explained.

No annoucements have been made as yet around other markets scheduled to take place throughout Germany, including  arguably the most famous, the Nuremberg Christmas Market, or the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, in Bavaria, which attracts about two million visitors each year.

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