The Christmas lights have been up around the columns of the Königsbau Passagen for over a week now. My weather app is forecasting a chance of (gasp!) snow this week. Our grocery store has a full display of Lindt Christmas chocolate and rows upon rows of Speculoos cookies and Lebkuchen. And just yesterday, I watched as they began erecting the ice skating rink and Christmas village in front of the New Castle.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Christmas is fast approaching.
To get yourself in the holiday spirit, check out some of the events coming up in November and December and enjoy this magical time of year in Southern Germany:
Now-November 6th Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg -- If you haven't made it to this year's pumpkin festival, then you still have time! The pumpkin sculptures, pumpkin carving, pumpkin races, pumpkin foods, and pumpkin-related gifts in this year's theme of The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town! are still going on through today. See my full review here.
November 18th-20th Veggie & Frei and eat&STYLE (Stuttgart Messe) -- Stuttgart's Messe hosts a number of fairs and large conferences throughout the year. On the third weekend in November, they'll have two food-related events that I thought I should mention. The Veggie & Frei fair will cater to vegetarian and vegan products, while the eat&STYLE festival promises to have food trucks and workshops featuring cuisines from around the world. For an idea of what these kinds of events are about, check out my blog post on this year's Markt des Guten Geschmacks at the Messe.
November 22nd-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 the market before you go.
November 22nd-December 22nd Barock-Weihnachtsmarkt (Ludwigsburg) -- Ludwigsburg's market has about 170 stalls spread out in the main plaza in the city center. I finally made it there last year when my mother was visiting, and we enjoyed seeing the works of local crafts(wo)men and eating all the tasty cakes and savory dishes. It's a bit less crowded than the Stuttgart market, though just as lovely. Don't miss the moment when the angels set up throughout the square light up their "wings" after the sun goes down.
November 23rd-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 the market here.
November 29th-December 4th 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. Before you go, check out my review of last year's market here.
December 9th-11th 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.
December 16th-18th Gaumenfreude's Grosser Foodtruck Weihnachtsmarkt (Zuffenhausen) -- The same company that hosts the Streetfood Thursdays in the Karlsplatz downtown is putting on their second annual Foodtruck Weihnactsmarkt. You'll likely see a lot of the same food trucks from the Thursday event, selling everything from burgers to pulled pork and burritos. What I liked about the market last year was that they made it festive by setting up Christmas trees and fire pits and by selling hot Glühbier in a bottle. Make sure you go early, though, as last year the market got very crowded around dinner time.
While these markets are all the local ones, I want to also say that last year I made it to the Strasbourg Christmas Market just over the border in France and only a bit over an hour direct from Stuttgart by train. While you'll find much of the same food items and kitschy Christmas gifts, there are several areas of the market where you can purchase delicious food items like wine, sausages, and cookies from the Alsace region. And of course, Strasbourg itself is a fabulous city to visit on any occasion! See my review of the market from last year if you think you might be interested in visiting.
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.