Christmas markets in LutherCountry: the real deal

Christmas markets in LutherCountry: the real deal

LutherCountry is offering 4 great authentic Christmas Markets!

Erfurt, Thuringia

Guarded by the towering cathedral, more than 200 wooden stalls fill the vast Domplatz (Cathedral Square). Highlights include the nativity scene, with 14 near life-size, hand-carved figures, a traditional tall wooden pyramid and the 80-foot Christmas tree, lit with hundreds of candles at night. The festive specialty here is Schittchen, a delicious version of Stollen. Made with flour, butter, candied fruits and ground almonds, it is the perfect gift to take home. And the post office has a stall where you can get your Christmas cards and postcards franked with the special Christmas market stamp!

TIP: Visit the crypt beneath the cathedral to see the 24 Advent scenes (Florales zur Weihnachtszeit), the imaginative floral tableaux that are created by local enthusiasts; book a guided tour and climb up the cathedral tower to see the 500-year-old Gloriosa, the oldest free swinging medieval bell in the world.

Dates: 23 November - 22 December 2011

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Wartburg Castle, Thuringia

Nearly 1,000 years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wartburg was a refuge for Martin Luther while he translated the New Testament into German. It was also an inspiration for Wagner’s opera, Tannhäuser. Flecked with snow, this atmospheric backdrop gives an authentic feel of the Middle Ages to the weekend Christmas markets, where candle makers, glass blowers and wooden-toy makers are dressed in medieval garb. As ever, there is glorious food, from sugared almonds to right-off-the-grill Thüringer Bratwurst, Thuringian-style sausage.

TIP: In Eisenach, the Lutherstuben Restaurant in the Eisenacher Hof hotel hosts medieval evenings, with a hearty meal, a witty master of ceremonies, even a monk doing a medieval twist and shout!

Dates: 26-27 November, 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 December

Halle (Saale), Saxony-Anhalt

As well as the usual Christmas ornaments, wood carvings and mulled wine, there are foods from Finland, Hungary, France, Austria, Russia and the Netherlands in the “European village.” But Halle is also the birthplace of composer George Frederick Handel (1685), and no work is more associated with Christmas than Messiah. As well as visiting the Christmas market, you can attend a concert in the Marktkirche or in the Händel-Haus, the house where he was born.

TIP: New this year is the 275-foot tall ‘Advent Candle’ - when the Red Tower of the Market church is lit up!

Dates: 23 November - 23 December

LutherstadtWittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt

There is nowhere more historic or atmospheric for a Christmas market. As well as half-timbered townhouses, there is the church where Luther once preached, with its famous altar triptych, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Explore little courtyards to find fun stalls: toys, decorations, roasted almonds and mulled wine.

TIP: On 18 December, the Martin Luther Nativity play is in the Church of St. Mary, where the Great Reformer preached his sermons.

Dates: 25 November - 21 December

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