One of the most exciting parts of coming to Germany for my year abroad was the German Christmas – or more specifically, the markets. So good that Britain shamelessly copies them year after year, the opportunity to see as many as humanly possible and eat as much as humanly possible was too good to miss.
Weihnachtsdorf im Kaiserhof der Residenz – 9/10
I started off my tour of the Christmas markets in Munich with the Residenz Christmas Market, unsurprisingly found in the Residenz courtyard itself. The entrance is immediately beautiful, with glittering trees framing the tinsel-crowned gateway. The first two stalls are also the most inviting ones: curry-covered chips and chocolate-covered fruits. Because Christmas is all about yummy things covered in more yummy things.
The stalls only got better and better, with a musical carousel of nativity scenes revolving over head and quaint wooden huts dripping with sparkling ornaments creating the perfect Christmas scene.
Completing the village theme, at the back there were a series of huts housing the nation’s favourite fairytales: Rotkaeppchen (Red Riding Hood), Hansel und Gretel (I’m sure you can guess the translation), and generic festive scenes of singing angels and comic Santas. Although mildly creepy, they did make for some amazing face-swaps on Snapchat.
Weihnactsmarkt am Sendlinger Tor – 6/10
This market is one of the typical smaller markets that can be found at the end of virtually every major street in the city, and they are all fairly similar, so I’m grouping the lot of them within this. Although smaller than most, they are packed full of delicious food, of course, but also a few homemade gifts and trinkets that I have yet to find elsewhere in Munich, like tiny metal sculptures of everything imaginable. Despite this, I would still only really go passing through, which I do a lot as Sendlinger Tor is the easiest U-Bahn station for me to get into the central. When recommending a Christmas market, I would definitely pick one of the bigger ones.
Tollwood Winterfestival, Theresienwiese – 5/10
My highest expectations were of this mammoth festival/market, yet I was going to be sadly disappointed. Although truly enormous, taking up the same space as Oktoberfest, there was none of the traditional huts that German markets are known for. Instead, caravans and trucks filled the space, and a bizarre Christmas tree made of bikes welcomed you, framed by strange columns of light tipped onto their side. Although impressive, my first impressions were not wholly festive.
The stalls themselves feature less of the German food, but had a huge variety of cuisines, from Mexican to Ethiopian – a new foodie experience for me was a hot mojito, which surprised me by being really tasty and refreshing, as opposed to the hot mess I was expecting. The gifts were also far more varied, making me want to return with more money and more ideas for gifts for my family, but I felt like it was more of a temporary shopping centre than a market, particularly as the majority of the stalls were inside metal halls. Certainly a cool shopping experience, but not what I thought a Christmas market should be.
Christkindlmarkt, Marienplatz – 8/10
The biggest market in Munich’s centre, this is probably the most famous, ideally situated underneath the iconic Rathaus in Marienplatz. The huge market wraps all around the Rathaus, overflowing even further down Rosenstrasse and Weinstrasse. Just around the corner from the 24/7 Viktualienmarkt which has also switched into Christmas mode for the festive season, it is definitely the most convenient and traditional market in the city. From ready-to-eat food to locally-made preserves and honey, from wooden toys to creative wooden wraps for lights, throwing up landscapes and nativity scenes onto your walls, anything that you can imagine from a Christmas market can be found under these pine-adorned roofs.