Ah, Christmastime. There’s nothing quite like it. I’ve always enjoyed this time of the year, but living in Australia always meant that the ‘typical’ white Christmasses enjoyed by characters like Kevin in Home Alone were only to be enjoyed through the tv screen. Australian Christmasses consisted of hot (very hot) weather, bbqs and the beach.
Nowadays, living in Europe I am enjoying the ‘real’ Christmas according to all the films I used to watch as a kid. White rooftops, Christmas markets! Oh, the joy!
Christmas markets are really reason enough to travel to a colder climate during this time of year, because although snow is still a nice novelty for me, it can get rather annoying when your shoes get drenched or your bus can’t make it up the hill to pick you up. Christmas markets are a huge part of winter and Christmastime in Europe. Unfortunately they run for only about 3 weeks before Christmas and close up on Dec 23-24 so if you’re planning to hit up a few, plan well! The traditional markets started in Germany, and many other European cities now have their own versions. Back in 2008 when I was studying at Loughborough University in the UK, I even visited a German Christmas Market in Nottingham! Paris had a few smaller ones too.
So you see, they’re really something special and have been adopted all over. I’ve tried to make it to a few different markets since I’ve been here. My very first one in Germany was of course, in Stuttgart which happens to be the second largest in the country. Not far from here, Esslingen, also has a very special market because it is created with a Middle-Age theme. Ludwigsburg is pretty and full of castles and also offers a Baroque market which is smaller, but also a good experience.
There are lots of trinkets, warm scarves and gloves and household products to buy, including handmade candles and wooden ornaments, but you don’t even have to buy any of these things. Just go, enjoy the vibes and the atmosphere. If it snows, take in the magical feel of the markets, and otherwise, have a Glühwein (Glow wine? Like mulled wine, really) a warm snack, and smile!
A lot of people avoid Europe in winter and I can understand why. I wouldn’t want to be stranded at an airport with thousands of antsy travellers because of a snowstorm either, but if you think you can handle it (or just not travel too frequently during your stay), then it is a must. At least once, and then you can decide for yourself how much of this article is misplaced positivity and excitement or the plain, brilliant truth. Let me know how it goes!