It is probably one of the most famous Christmas markets in the world, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. There are actually three markets that take place at the same time, the Christkindlesmarkt, the Kinderweihnacht and the Markt der Partnerstädte.
The special feature of the market is that it is a market of the city of Nuremberg and not, as is often the case, an association of traders holding a Christmas market to promote sales. As a result, the market is not overloaded with junk, but a compilation of finely selected stalls and a good balance of Christmas items, gifts, food and drink.
The opening takes place every year on the Friday before the first Advent. And every year many thousands of people are gathered to witness this festive opening. It is said that the people of Nuremberg avoid this event, the people are too crowded, but when I am there as a Nuremberg resident, I hear many Franconians and believe that many do not want to be deprived of this wonderful event.
At 5:30 pm the Nuremberg Christ Child opens the market with a prologue. Before that, the market is already quite crowded and the stalls are already selling their goods, food and drinks. But when it gets closer to 5:30 p.m., the hustle and bustle suddenly stops and everyone stands spellbound, waiting for the Christ Child. The little ones in particular are very attentive and when the trumpets announce the arrival of the Christ Child, their eyes sparkle. The Christ Child stands on the balcony of the Frauenkirche, on the main market square in Nuremberg, and speaks the traditional prologue there for about 5 minutes, which is the same every year.
Officially, the Nuremberg Christ Child opens the market every year with the sentence: “The Christ Child invites you to his market and whoever comes shall be welcome. For those who can’t wait, here is the prologue from 2019
The Nuremberg Christ Child
What city has its own Christ Child? Nuremberg very much does. Since 1948, the Nuremberg Christ Child has been opening the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt in a garb very reminiscent of a tinsel angel.
The robe, wig and crown are part of the Christ Child’s permanent wardrobe when he makes one of his more than 100 appearances in December. She can be seen four times a week at his own market and also visits schools, kindergartens, retirement homes and other events. The Christkind is chosen by a jury in a real selection process, which always has many applicants, and is awarded as an honorary position to a schoolgirl for two years
Food and drink
For a long time in history, Franconia flourished as a trading point for many goods from distant countries. At the time, rare spices were also traded in Nuremberg alongside fabrics. Many recipes that are still associated with Nuremberg today originate from this time. The influences can also be found in the typical dishes that can be bought at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt.
Gingerbread and fruit bread
The famous Nuremberg gingerbread can be found all over the world. Even American visitors are specifically looking for the “gingerbread” that can only be bought so well here. As early as August, some corners of the city smell the unmistakable scent that is created when gingerbread is baked. The traditional Nuremberg Elisenlebkuchen is baked entirely without flour and is round rather than square. Only the wafer contains flour.
Fruit bread is also sold at numerous stalls in the “City also of Wood and Cloth”, as the market is often called. Fruit bread is made from dried fruits and nuts, which are also not cut into small pieces. The mixture is shaped into a loaf and tastes great with butter. Of course, it is also particularly nutritious, with all the good ingredients.
Nuremberg without bratwurst is unthinkable! And so, of course, the Christkindlesmarkt also has numerous bratwurst stalls. The Nuremberg bratwurst has a special taste, which comes from the marjoram and the typical spice mixture. They are also made from coarse minced meat, so they are not finely ground. In addition, the Nuremberg Bratwurst is only about as long as a finger, 7-9 cm and about 25 grams light. And because they are so small, the Nuremberg bratwursts, we also fit three in a Weckla – that is, in a roll with three bratwursts, and that’s exactly how the call is when ordering, “Three in a Weckla” or “once (twice, three times, …) Three!”, as needed.
In the meantime, the bratwursts also have their own protective association, which looks after the stories surrounding the Nuremberg Bratwurst and also unites the manufacturers who are only allowed to produce in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesglühwein is served at numerous stalls and is also a real export hit for the city’s two major producers. Every year, the companies Gerstacker and Vollrath compete for the favour of customers with their various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In addition to the classic Christkindles mulled wine, there is blueberry mulled wine, light mulled wine, mulled punch and children’s punch, or children’s mulled wine.
Mulled wine mug
And there is something else special at the Christkindlesmarkt: every year, visitors can take a mulled wine cup with them. Officially, these cups are subject to a deposit and are supposed to be returned. But many of the visitors pack them away as souvenirs and so whole collections of the cups are created. Mine goes back to 1991.
Okay, that’s probably already the insider tip, because not everyone automatically associates shashlik with a Christkindlesmarkt. For as long as I can remember, there has been a stand in the front row and every year the softly cooked meat in the red sauce is to die for. A must for me – at least once at Christmas time.
Nuremberg Feuerzangenbowle (Fire punch)
For several years now, a separate party zone has been established at the Fleischbrücke in Nuremberg between 1 Advent and New Year.
Nuremberg’s Feuerzangenbowle (interestingly, initiated by someone from Munich) is a separate collection of stalls selling food and drink not far from the main market square. Here, depending on the day of the week, you can stand comfortably together and eat rather untypical food and drinks such as a Glühcaipi (hot caipirinha) or Langos.
Of course, there is also Feuerzangenbowle and the film of the same name runs on a continuous loop on a screen above the stalls, but most visitors notice little of it because of the noise and the exuberant atmosphere.
Arts & Crafts and Gifts
At Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt you can actually find something for every taste. The goods on offer also range from affordable small items in the euro range to high-quality goods for several hundred euros.
For a long time, Nuremberg was the city of toys. The saying “Nuremberg trinkets all over the world” still bears witness to the fact that there were many manufacturers of trinkets who sold their toys all over the world.
The Nuremberg Toy Museum tells the story of this time. Long before plastic came into fashion, Nuremberg was the city of toys and there were tin figure manufactories and tin toy manufacturers. Tin toys, at least, can still be found frequently at Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt. But more recent times also leave their mark with a stand by Playmobil, whose main factory is located in the neighbouring town of Zirndorf. There are also stands with dolls, wooden toys and games of skill.
Christkindlesmarkt on the Main Market Square
The square in the city centre is called Hauptmarkt all year round and is thus also available as a navigation destination. At the same time, the main hustle and bustle of the Christkindlesmarkt takes place here. The main market square is flanked by the sandstone Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), on whose gallery the Christ Child holds his prologue, and the stage where numerous performances take place. Choirs and trombone choirs provide musical accompaniment to the market and some groups put on performances.
Worth a visit
Admittedly, an enthusiast for her own city’s market is writing here. Most Nurembergers are not said to be, but I believe that all Nurembergers love the market in one way or another.
For me, the market has a wonderful atmosphere all of its own. At the weekend, crowds push their way through the narrow streets, so of course it’s not quite as homely. But when the weekend tourists aren’t there and visitors can stroll through the alleys on Monday to Thursday, they have a view of the shiny city of stalls, the wonderfully glittering and fragrant displays and can let the stage programme put them in a fabulous Christmas mood.
But the most beautiful moment at the market is when it has freshly snowed, the lights are shining and a hushed silence lies over the market.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt opens daily from the Friday before the first Advent until Christmas Eve.
Monday – Sunday 10 – 21 h
On Friday, before the first Advent, the official opening takes place at 5:30 pm, with the prologue of the Christ Child. However, the market already opens at 10:00 am. On 24 December, the market closes at 14:00.
The market is suitable for prams to a limited extent. On weekends or busy evenings, it can easily happen that there is no way through. In the morning or afternoon it is usually quieter and much more pleasant for the children to visit the market. Those who are out and about at the Kinderweihnacht naturally have the company of other pram chauffeurs. Here, the pram is more or less basic equipment.
Here, a very clear NO can be pronounced.
If you love your four-legged friend, you leave him at home. If there is no other way, dog owners should choose the early opening hours from 10:00 am. In the evening, the dog will certainly not like it when it sees no sky between hundreds of legs and master or mistress are in constant fear for the poor animal. Even on the arm or in the basket it is difficult.
Nuremberg is easily accessible by train, car and plane. The main station is only one underground station away (Lorenzkirche), so the train is the perfect vehicle to get there. From the airport, you can reach the city centre by taking the U2 to the main station and then change again to the U1 to Lorenzkirche underground station.
Those arriving by car can reach Nuremberg via the A7 from the north, the A9 from the south or Berlin and the A6 from Stuttgart. The city centre is signposted and numerous car parks are available for the rush of visitors.
The nearest are:
– Hauptmarkt multi-storey car park, Schustergasse 1, 90403 Nuremberg, approx. 2 minutes’ walk.
– Hans-Sachs-Platz multi-storey car park, Hans-Sachs-Platz 1, 90402, Nuremberg, approx. 4 minutes to the Hauptmarkt, directly at the Kinderweihnacht, limited parking spaces
– Findelgasse multi-storey car park, Findelgasse 4, 90402 Nuremberg, approx. 4 minutes on foot
– Jakobsmarkt multi-storey car park, Zirkelschmiedsgasse 9, 90403 Nuremberg, approx. 11 minutes on foot
– Multi-storey car park Sebalder Höfe, Laufertormauer 8, 90403 Nuremberg, approx. 14 minutes on foot
At the time of the Christkindlesmarkt, there are also mulled wine rides on the historic tram and stagecoach rides directly from the main market square.
Guest article: This article was penned by Stefanie Thielmann from Nuremberg.