Christmas Markets in and around Karlsruhe


Christmas is a magical time in Germany. Just about every town stages some sort of Christmas market — some for just a weekend, some for the whole Christmas season.

There are many names for the same thing, so keep an eye out: Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Adventsmarkt, Sternlesmarkt.

If you are looking to do serious shopping, go during the day or during the week when it is less crowded. To feel the great atmosphere, you have to go at night when the booths are lit up. Stroll with a Glühwein (mulled wine) or Kinderpunsch (warm, sweet drink without alcohol meant for children) and enjoy. The larger markets are a mixture of commercial products and local handmade goods. The smaller markets, which are just on weekends, are often an opportunity for choirs, sports groups and various clubs to earn some extra money. Special markets with high quality handmade goods are often held on weekends only.

If you buy food or beverages at the markets, the price may be higher than anticipated — this is because there is a deposit on mugs, glasses, plates and silverware. Germans use the real thing and wash up rather than use paper plates etc. After enjoying your Glühwein or Sauerkraut, take the utensils back to the booth for a refund (Pfandrückgabe).

Shortly before the beginning of the Christmas market season, the KVV (local transportation) provides two lists of markets accessible by public transportation. The list includes when which market takes place and which train/tram to take — a good idea if you plan to indulge in more than one Glühwein. Info here - look under Weihnachtsmärkte in der Region and download 23 pages of Christmas markets in the area.

As with any crowded area in the city, watch out for pickpockets. Keep your purse/wallet close to you - especially after a Glühwein or two. This is especially important when getting on and off trams/trains and throughout the markets. Prevention is better than going through the hassle of cancelling all your credit cards.

Local Christmas Markets (2019)

Karlsruhe (Nov 26 - Dec 23) :  In Karlsruhe the main Christmas market is at Friedrichsplatz spreading out to Kaiser- and Lammstrasse. For children, a special train is set up by St. Stephan church, along with dioramas. Don't miss the flying Santa on his sleigh as he soars from the roof of the ECE Center — daily at 5 and 7 p.m. A temporary ice skating rink is set up in front of the castle and is open until February 2nd, 2020.

Karlsruhe Durlach (Nov 26 - Dec 22): Medieval Christmas market in one of the oldest Karlsruhe neighborhoods.

Ettlingen (Nov 28 - Dec 29): Sternlesmartkt throughout the center of town. Closed on Christmas Day.

Rastatt (Nov 25 - Dec 23): The market is at the Marktplatz. In addition, a SchlossWeihnacht im Ehrenehof (Dec. 5 - 15) highlights food and handmade goods - just outside the castle.

Baden-Baden (Nov 28 - Jan 6): Most of the market is in front of the Casino/Kurhaus.

Heidelberg (Nov 25 - Dec 22): The old town is charming, as is the market. Outdoor ice skating rink open through January 7.

Strasbourg (Nov 22 - Dec 30): One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe and the oldest one in France. The city is worth a visit anytime, but the Marche de Noel makes it that much nicer. Because of heightened security, be prepared for lines entering into the old town and expect bags and backpacks to be inspected at one of the 18 pedestrian checkpoints.

Stuttgart (Nov 27 - Dec 23): Over 290 stands selling Christmas goodies and food. Also ChristmasGardenStuttgart - a light and laser extravaganza in the Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Garden until Jan 6, 2020.


Special Markets (2019)

Durlach - Artvent#18 in the Orgelfabrik on November 29 - December 1. More than 20 regional artists and designers sell their works on the first weekend of Advent.

Lametta — staged at Tollhaus in Karlsruhe on the 6th and 7th of December. About 60 artists and craftspeople exhibit their unique products — often only available as limited issues. Live music, food, chill zone. €3 entry fee.

Bad Herrenalb — is hosting a market on December 7th and 8th.

Kloster Maulbronn (UNESCO World Heritage Site) hosts a Christmas market on the 7th and 8th of December.

Weihnachtsmesse (December 12 - 15) — very high quality hand-made articles for purchase just in time for the holidays at the Regierungspräsdium (Rondellplatz) in Karlsruhe.

Schloss Neunbürg (southwest of Pforzheim): December 14 and 15 — Advent market with artists and artisans selling their wares.

Bad Wimpfen — it's not that close, but many consider this to be one of the most picturesque markets around. Be prepared for crowds. First three weekends of Advent (Fri-Sun). Info in German here.