Christmas in Bavaria

Germany is home to the oldest Christmas markets. The tradition is particularly alive in Bavaria where a warm atmosphere reigns.

Latest edition : 24 November 2023

Christmas, a shopping festival? You could believe it. It is also a shame that so-called Christmas markets are opening everywhere where a lot of junk imported from China is sold, very poor copies of real traditional crafts. The speakers blare sweet melodies meant to create a Christmas atmosphere. Special trains unload their human cargo which floods into the large markets made famous by publicity throughout the world. Tradition and authenticity have become empty words of any value.

But give up this beautiful tradition of the markets which precede December 24? It would be a shame, because fortunately there are many who have managed to preserve the traditions even those who have adapted them to today's times. Head to Bavaria, this German region where we do not deny our roots, where tradition easily rhymes with modernity. A region where we still know how to take the time to enjoy the good moments in life. And the Advent season, these four weeks before Christmas, are part of it.

First stop, Munich. During the weeks of Advent, a very special atmosphere reigns in the capital of Bavaria: warm, friendly and festive.

Certainly, there as elsewhere, the businesses are in tune and even at the airport there are stalls in the colors of the season. But we don’t find any trinkets from elsewhere!

The tradition of Christmas markets is strongly anchored in the Bavarian capital. In writings from 1310, there is mention of a Saint-Nicolas market as early as 1310! It still stands there, on and all around Marienplatz in the heart of the city.

Munich's oldest Christmas market is held in and around Marienplatz. © München Tourismus, photo Fritz Witzig.

On its stands you will find everything you need to decorate trees and houses, to build and arrange nurseries.

Balls and other blown glass objects to decorate the tree.
At the nativity scene market in Munich, you can find accessories for setting up Christmas nativity scenes.
At the nativity scene market in Munich, countless figures carved from wood create life scenes around the nativity scene.
At the nativity scene market in Munich, you can even find typical characters from the Alpine region to personalize your Christmas nativity scene.


Despite the influx of tourists – it is the unmissable place for any visitor to Munich – the atmosphere is warm with small live concerts from the balcony of the town hall.

Every evening, singers and musicians sing typical Christmas songs from the balcony of Munich City Hall. You won't hear White Christmas there!

After this obligatory passage for fervent crèche builders, you just have to let yourself be guided by your desires. Each district offers a Christmas market and a different atmosphere, from traditional to completely offbeat, including a medieval village or even the world of stories. It's impossible to list them all.

The Tollwood Winter Festival, another version of the Christmas market. @München Tourismus, Photo Bernd Wackerbauer
The entrance to the country of the counts which takes place in one of the courtyards of the Residenz castle in the heart of Munich.

 Almost everywhere, craftsmen and artists are working. The opportunity to find unique gifts and decorations.

Hearts that smell like Christmas.

What everyone has in common: a spirit of sharing and conviviality, live music, small shows. Without forgetting that we eat (and drink) well there. The culinary offering is just as vast as the atmospheres of the different markets!

Here we prepare potato pancakes, made from potatoes peeled and processed on site.
At the different Christmas markets everything is cooked on site. residents take the opportunity to eat after leaving the office.
There is also no shortage of famous grilled sausages.


The obligatory mulled wine even comes in 30 recipes! Do you see blue flames dancing on the surface of a cup? Then we serve the “Feuerzangenbowle”: a loaf of sugar soaked in rum placed on tongs above a pot filled with red wine with oranges and spices. When the rum ignites, the sugar melts, caramelizes and drips into the wine. Perfect for warming up!

Feuerzangenbowle, a sort of mulled wine punch.

In churches, faithful and simple passers-by stop to sing together and take a short break.

The churches open their doors to everyone for a small vigil.

It is also in Munich, at the Bavarian National Museum, that one of the largest collections of nativity scenes in the world is located. Probably also the most valuable.

An imagined representation of the city of Jerusalem. The departure of the Three Wise Men. Work of the Probst and Pendl families of sculptors approx. from 1800. Constructions by Mr. Moser de Bozen, mid-19th century.

More than 6,000 characters and animals, some 20,000 pieces (buildings, furniture and other accessories) recreate both the Nativity and life scenes.

The most “speaking” come from Naples in Italy. The characters are larger than life, the outfits and accessories are magnificent. The smallest detail is important, right down to the dish of spaghetti and cuttlefish on tiny plates!

Scenes larger than life. A Neapolitan nativity scene. Photo UL

A temporary exhibition, Crazy Christmas, presents contemporary nativity scenes made in styles ranging from cubism to surrealism to pop art.

Crazy Christmas. Here, the birth of Jesus on a construction site. Work by Rudi Bannwarth. ©Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, photo Walter Tafelmeier.


Romance in Nördlingen

Located on the Romantic Road, the old town of Nördlingen is surrounded by a completely preserved city wall and walkway. Houses from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance characterize the small town. The city is also known for the meteorite that fell 15 million years ago and which shaped the landscape, namely the crater of the Ries plain.

The tanners' district in Nördlingen.
Nördlingen is a stop on the Romantic Road.


Every Friday and Saturday, the watchman and his cat wait for visitors at the top of “Daniel”, the bell tower of Saint-Georges church. He even put up a Christmas tree there. At 10 p.m., he calls out over the rooftops, “O G’sell, so”. A tradition that dates back to the 15th century.

From up there, the view of the small medieval town is really beautiful, especially at night.

View of the Nördlingen market from the church tower.

At the end of the day, the small Christmas market brings together locals looking for quality gifts, good food, mulled wine or... hot beer! Unusual but good.

This is where the best mulled wine is served! Made from good wine, gently heated in copper vats.
At the Christmas market in Nördlingen, we warm up the beer!

Musical program every late afternoon, to really get in the Christmas spirit!

At nightfall, the Nördlingen Christmas market has a truly romantic atmosphere.


Christmas at the castle in Regensburg

In the lovely town of Regensburg, three Christmas markets stand out. The Lucrezia market in the historic center, organized by the association of craftsmen. The one in the courtyards of the Counts' Castle Thurn und Taxis with few tourists (access is chargeable) and the very intimate Counts' Christmas market in the Dörnbergpark in the heart of the city. Their particularity: there are only artisans and craftspeople from the region.

The Thurn und Taxis family castle offers its backstage to an intimate Christmas market.
Old rides for children create a fairy tale atmosphere.
In Regensburg too, the cooking is done on site.
There are even pastries for... dogs!
And finally, a cup of Feuerzangenbowle.


But Regensburg, Regensburg in French, is worth a visit even outside of Christmas. The city on the banks of the Danube is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with countless historical monuments. With its 2,000 years of history, it has incredible charm. But that will be another story!

Regensburg Cathedral.



In Munich, even the famous Viktualienmarkt market is dressed in Christmas colors.
Munich, wink from a merchant. In the background, the city's cathedral.