The capital of Bavaria sparkles in the run-up to Christmas, with more than 20 markets dotted across the city dedicated to festive shopping and Yuletide cheer. The Christmas markets here – known as Christkindlmarkt in German – have hundreds of years of history. Stalls sell all manner of arts and crafts, from local and handmade to imported from around the world; and there’s a delicious range of seasonal German food and drink on offer.
Whether you’re heading to Munich to do some Christmas shopping or just to soak up the festive spirit, these are our favourite Christmas markets in the city – some within walking distance of IHG hotels.
Munich Christmas Market
The traditional Munich Christmas Market on Marienplatz is one of the oldest markets in Germany, with its little booths and stalls spreading across 20,000 square metres. The location – in a pedestrian-friendly location beside the Gothic town hall (Neues Rathaus) – is fantastic and there’s a giant Christmas tree covered in 3,000 fairy lights. This market is typically Bavarian, and a large number of stalls sell handcrafted goods, hot chestnuts and almonds, snowball cakes, and stollen and fruit cake. Advent music is performed live every evening at 5.30pm from the balcony of the town hall. There’s a ‘market of the holy manger’ featuring displays of handicraft figures portraying scenes from the nativity.
Schwabing Christmas Market
Located in Munich’s funky Schwabing neighbourhood, this market features dozens of artists from all over Germany. As well as individual stalls, there’s also an art marquee which allows artists to show larger works as they would in a gallery. There’s even a ‘sculpture path’ which meanders its way around 35 different works made from various materials such as stone, metal and plastic. The food has an international flavor as well as Bavarian cuisine.
Christmas Village at the Munich Residenz
This beautiful market is in the courtyard of a palace and is modelled on an Alpine village. While it’s the second largest market in the city, it tries to ensure an element of ‘exclusivity’ – choosing traders who are artisans creating their own products, and offering special showcases to those that give on-site craft demonstrations. You’ll find old-style Bavarian Christmas tree decorations and some of the best food from any of the markets. Live music is traditional, with alphorn players, choirs and clarinet trios, and there are puppet shows for kids.
Christmas Market at the Chinese Tower
Munich is famous for beer gardens and this Christmas Market is located in one, at the base of the lovely Chinese Tower in the English Gardens, one of the largest public parks in the world. There’s a wonderful range of things on offer for the whole family: including a curling rink, horse carriage rides, a traditional carousel and a treasure hunt for children.
The Medieval Market
This market takes the Middle Ages as its theme, trying to recreate the atmosphere of what a Christmas market might have been like at that time. Amidst the regular crafts and gingerbread stalls, you’ll find stallholders dressed in medieval costume: some selling bows and arrow, others offering hats and other traditional styles of clothing from the Renaissance era.
Christmas Market at Sendlinger Tor
There are 40 stalls at this market located around the Sendlinger Gate in Munich’s old town. Between 1886 and 1936 there was a Christmas market here, with its current incarnation beginning in 1995. The narrow streets and cobblestones around the gate add to the romantic atmosphere. As well as German crafts, there’s ceramics from Lithuania and handmade gifts from Russia.
Billing itself a ‘market of ideas’, this market features international as well as German exhibitors and prides itself on focusing on ‘handcrafts and organic delicacies’. Part of the Tollwood Winter Festival, located on Theresienwiese, there are various tents with themes such as ‘market’ and ‘bazaar’, as well as food tents with tables and seating 50 food stalls, all organic, and there’s a good variety of vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Pink Christmas Market
This market is organized by Munich’s gay and lesbian community and is a welcoming place for everyone. Located in the heart of the predominantly gay neighbourhood around Glochenbach, the centrepoint of which is Stephansplatz, its Christmas trees are fluffy and pink, just like its fairy lights. The market features typical Christmas stalls as well as those selling Christmas baubles of ‘mermen’ and other quirky items. There are drag queen shows, DJs and cabaret acts.