Christmastime is almost here again! It's a magical season in Germany when the Christmas stalls fill the streets and Glühwein appears in everyone's mugs (not really, but that would be nice). Living in a city as large as Stuttgart, there are many opportunities to attend not only Stuttgart's four-week market, but also many of the other smaller markets around the area.
So get ready for the Christmas season and look forward to these events coming up in November and December:
Now-November 8th Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg -- If you still haven't made it to this year's pumpkin festival, then you still have time! (We went just last week so that I could finally get my fill of pumpkin fries.) The pumpkin sculptures, pumpkin carving, pumpkin races, pumpkin foods, and pumpkin-related gifts in this year's theme of Fliegen (flight) is not to be missed. See my full review here.
Now to November 12th Street Food Market Stuttgart -- There are just three weeks left of the Street Food Market, and while the crowds may have thinned out a bit thanks to the cold, gray weather, there are still plenty of new trucks in the mix. For example, last week I had a great pork and cheese quesadilla at the La Jefa food truck. You can see my blog post for my review, but for more updated food offerings, check out my Facebook page where I've been posting pics from my Thursday outings.
November 24th-December 22nd 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. Check out my review and photos from last year's market before you go.
November 24th-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...or so I hear. To be honest, I've never been. That's why it's one of my goals to make it there this year.
November 25th-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 Altes Schloss (old castle) as the city schedules daily concerts (both choirs and orchestras) playing Christmas music throughout the season. Be sure to check out the special antiques market and Finnish village in the Karlsplatz for the best smoked salmon and some Glögi (the Finnish version of mulled wine). See my review of last year's market here.
December 1st-6th 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 11th-12th 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.
I'll be venturing out to several of my favorite markets this season, of course, but I've also made plans to visit the one in Strasbourg just over the border in France. I hear it's one of the best in Europe, and I'm eager to take another trip to Strasbourg so I can blog about my favorite restaurants there. You can check back in on my blog for full posts about my travels, or stay up to date with my Facebook page for more recent food photos over the coming months.
As always, if you know of any big events coming up in the next couple of months that I missed, let me know in the comments section below.