Following my last post about events in September/October, here is the next installment of my attempt to share some upcoming culinary happenings in and around Stuttgart.
Winter is a busy time for Germany as all of the Christmas markets roll out in full pomp. I know that the stereotype is to visit Germany (and specifically Munich) for the Oktoberfest, but really the Christmas markets with their candied nuts, wooden toys and nutcrackers, and glühwein (mulled wine) are really what you should visit for.
So get ready for the Christmas season and look forward to these events coming up in November and December:
- September 5th-November 2nd Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg -- This is your last weekend to check out the pumpkin festival on the Ludwigsburg castle grounds. The pumpkin sculptures, pumpkin carving, pumpkin races, pumpkin foods, and pumpkin-related gifts in this year's theme of Kürbis Royal is truly a unique experience that will help round out your autumn.
- November 25th-December 21st Der Esslinger Mittelaltermarkt & Weihnachtsmarkt -- Esslingen takes a different spin on the traditional Christmas market by also hosting a Middle Ages market at the same time in the oldest part of town. It reminds me a lot of the Renaissance Fairs that I used to go to as a child in Maryland and Pennsylvania. You can find some neat hand-crafted jewelry, play some Medieval games, purchase Medieval clothing, and enjoy hot soup in bread bowls and your mulled wine in rough crockery. To get there, just follow the people dressed as if they're doubles on an episode of Game of Thrones. Don't miss the Hungarian Kürtöskalács (a kind of sweet bread wrapped onto a stick and rolled in sugar, chocolate, or nuts) on the way in.
- November 25th-December 22nd Barock-Weihnachtsmarkt (Ludwigsburg) -- Ludwigsburg's market has about 170 stalls spread out in the main plaza in the city center. It's a bit less crowded than the Stuttgart market, though just as lovely.
- November 26th-December 23rd Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt -- Despite the crowds, the Stuttgart Christmas market is still my favorite. It's the largest market in the area with over 280 stalls selling everything from kitchen utensils and soaps to handcrafted jewelry and toys. It's a great place to stock up on specialty Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers for your friends and family. Just be sure to go hungry, because you won't be able to resist the typical festival sausages, spätzle, maultaschen, gingerbread, candied nuts, roasted chestnuts, and glühwein at the various stalls. Go to the front of the Neues Schloss (new castle) if you have little ones in tow; they will enjoy the mini-Ferris wheel and train ride. I also recommend stopping by the courtyard of the Alte Schloss (old castle) as the city schedules daily concerts (both choirs and orchestras) playing Christmas music throughout the season.
- December 2nd-7th ChocolART Chocolate Festival (Tübingen) -- The chocolate festival is a neat event that takes place every year in Tübingen's downtown area. You can watch chocolate masters make some gorgeous creations or learn how to make a tasty sweet of your own at a cooking class. Other stalls include less obvious choices like chocolate massages and cocoa painting. And of course, don't forget to taste and buy some chocolate while you're there; I can especially recommend the piping hot cups of real hot chocolate if it's particularly chilly outside.
- December 12th-14th Weihnachtsmarkt Tübingen -- Following the chocolate festival, Tübingen has its own Christmas market, though for one weekend only. It's much smaller than Stuttgart's market and you get much of the same food and goods, however, you can find some more interesting local craft stalls. The town is also beautiful no matter what time of year, especially the old parts, so definitely go if you're up for a Weihnachtsmarkt tour of the area.
Note that most every major city and some of the smaller towns in Germany will have a Christmas market sometime in December. I've only listed the bigger ones close to us that I've been to, though I'm sure you can find another closer one in your area.
Do you know of any big events coming up in the next couple of months? Let me know in the comments section below.