Holiday advertisements can be challenging to live up to. Tons of perfect people with a backdrop of Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and untouched snow. People holding warm drinks, going about their gift shopping, and finding the perfect gift. There’s usually a soundtrack of Christmas carols and jingle bells to go along with it.
It’s challenging to find this kind of backdrop in real life. Unless you are in Munich around the holidays.
The Munich Christmas Market – or Munchner Christkindlmarkt in German – has been in place for hundreds of years. It takes place at Marienplatz square in the center of the city, which already looks a bit like Christmas, even in July. Just walking into the Market itself is like walking into a holiday TV commercial.
Some of the Market’s highlights include:
1. Christmas Carolers: Each night during the market, on the balcony of the town hall building, you’ll hear beautiful Christmas carols sung by real professionals. It sounds like heaven, if heaven could speak German. This is a remarkable holiday event, and can by itself replace the Nutcracker, Charlie Brown Christmas, and It’s A Wonderful Life for a complete holiday experience.
2. Gluhwien: In the U.S., you’ll see the red Starbucks cups filled with steaming coffee around Christmas. At the Christmas Market, the steaming cups are filled with Gluhwien – which is basically red wine mixed with various spices. You’ll taste cinnamon, cloves, and sugar in the mix. Gluhwien warms your shopping spree with the best of them. There are several stands selling Gluhwien scattered throughout the Market.
3. Authentic Christmas Gifts: This is the main purpose of the market. Dozens of artisan’s stands selling colorful handmade ornaments, wood carvings, glassware and candles. This is a totally different experience than buying an iPad, because you know you picked up something original. These are the authentic gifts that can stay in your family for generations. And, all of the items available will cost far less than a new iPad.
4. Children’s Workshop: Another part of the perfect Christmas backdrop is happy children baking and decorating Christmas cookies. You can check that box, too, at the Munich Market, at the Children’s workshop at Town Hall. Kids age six to twelve will get to make Christmas cookies, arts, and crafts at the workshop – just like the cute little elves they are.
5. The Normal Christmas Gift Opportunities: If you wander off of Marienplatz square just a bit, you’ll find some high-end commercial shops to help complete your shopping. The Market itself splinters off into a few streets around Marienplatz and merges with the traditional shopping experience.
This year’s Market starts on Thursday, November 27, which is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.. It continues until Christmas Eve, when it closes at 2:00 PM.