It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas. Especially if you're in Hamburg. As the year winds down, this harbor city becomes a delight for all ages with its magical Christmas lights. Not to mention the aroma of roasted almonds and special Christmas stories. Here's our tips for visiting Hamburg's various Christmas markets.
Warm up with some mulled wine at the Gänsemarkt
Just a few feet from Rathausplatz square, you'll find a cozy, inviting Christmas market where the stands are decorated with sayings by Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. To complete the scene, choirs perform songs on a stage where readings, concerts and even religious services are also hosted. Watch the children riding the merry-go-round, marvel at the Christmas tree decked out with LED lights, or wind through the wooden kiosks on a shopping expedition and buy a few handmade presents to take home. When you need a break, warm up with mulled wine or the classic Feuerzangenbowle punch. They have practically become standard fare at German Christmas markets.
Rathausmarkt, the most famous of Christmas markets
This market, probably the most famous in Hamburg, has it all. Everything from homemade gifts to pottery, cookies and a weekly parade await you. When you visit, be prepared to return home with your stomach full and your wallet empty. At the market you will find bakers from Aachen and Nuremberg selling their gingerbread, the famous “Lebkuchen.” Dealers from across the country will also be selling their local handicrafts. The stands are organized into several alleys based on themes, making it easier to find your way. In the mood for something sweet? Then pay a visit to the snack alley. Handicraft enthusiasts will find ideal inspiration for gifts in the handicraft alley. Visiting with children? It's worth taking a turn down the toy alley. Here, traditional toys such as mangers, wooden soldiers or Russian nesting dolls will make the little ones jump for joy. Make sure not to miss the flying Santa Claus, who tells his Christmas stories from a different stand every night.
Winterwald, a winter wonderland in Hamburg
Beautifully decorated Christmas trees and a fairytale atmosphere are the hallmarks of this Christmas market. Adorned with wintery trees and lights, the market creates an aura of magic which instantly transports you away from everyday life and into a Christmas wonderland. Formerly called “Traditions in the Winter Forest,” this market offers a vast array of shopping opportunities along the central streets of the city. But don't venture too deep into the forests of the Winterwald - a big bad wolf might be waiting for you.
Jungfernstieg, a luxury Christmas market
Situated next to the upscale shopping streets of the Hansa district, this market is one of a kind with its white lights and white pagodas. If you still need to find the perfect Christmas gifts for your loved ones, this is the right place to be. From there it's just a quick walk to the Apple store and the Alster arcades, where you will find almost everything from Godiva chocolate to Tumi leather products or Arka tea. On New Year's Eve, there is a special fireworks display and a party that goes on until 2 in the morning. Book your stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Hamburg, just seven minutes away from the Jungfernstieg.