Did you know that in certain parts of Saxony and Thuringia Christmas lasts all year long? Go on our Christmas road trip to find out more!
Eisenach – Erfurt – Seitenroda/Leuchtenburg – Annaberg-Buchholz – Freiberg – Leipzig – Dresden – Herrnhut
At Eisenach’s Wartburg Castle, a historical Christmas markets brings medieval crafts and trades back to life: Meet candlemakers and glassblowers, musicians and magicians at his highly atmospheric event, set against the backdrop of UNESCO World Heritage site Wartburg Castle. Also on the agenda: lots of food, drink plus various concerts and performances! (Market open on first, second and third Advent weekend)
Next stop on your festive route is Thuringia’s state capital Erfurt (approx. 1 hr drive) where the main Christmas market on Cathedral Square is picturesquely set against the backdrop of two splendid gothic churches. Alongside a multitude of crafts, food and drink stalls, there’s also a giant ferris wheel and vintage merry-go-rounds to keep you entertained. Don’t miss exploring the historic old town on the Christmas market trail to enjoy a number of smaller markets, e.g., on Fischmarkt square, Wenigemarkt square, Anger and at Kaufmannskirche church.
Christmas market in Cathedral Square
The Erfurt Christmas market is among the most popular in Germany. It is set in the middle of the well-preserved oldtown, with the imposing Erfurt Cathedral as a backdrop.
How about some time for Christmas shopping? Erfurt’s lovely historical city centre provides a great blend of high street and independent retail options (tip: the small shops on Merchants’ Bridge!). Then it’s on to Leuchtenburg Castle in Seitenroda an hour from Erfurt for another castle market. Stalls here sell special porcelain items from Thuringian producers, or stock up on honey made in the castle. Then, try the “Skywalk of Wishes”. It’s said that if you follow a certain procedure, your wishes will come true. Handy for Christmas …
(Market open on second and third Advent weekend)
Moving further east to Saxony, Annaberg-Buchholz in the Ore Mountains (approx. 1 hr 50 min drive) is one of those place where it’s always Christmas: If you ever wondered where festive decorations and tree ornaments such as wooden animals, nutcrackers or little angels are from, you found the place. The Ore Mountains have a tradition of wooden Christmas ornaments and toy making that goes back many centuries. Explore it all at the “Manufaktur der Träume“ (Factory of Dreams), a museum and Christmas wonderland full of colourful decorations and wooden toys. Of course, there’s also a picture-perfect Christmas market and if you make it for the fourth Advent Sunday, you will also be able to witness a miners’ parade as a special festive tradition reminding of the region’s ore mining past.
Another approx. 1 hr 10 min further north, Freiberg’s Christmas market has been voted as one of Germany’s most beautiful. It whole-heartedly embraces the region’s former mining tradition with a unique historical backdrop and lots of traditional wooden handicrafts and decorations all round. We bet you’ll be impressed by the giant version of the typical wooden Christmas pyramids of the region!
Next stop: Leipzig (approx. 1 hr 30 min drive), a city that is all glitter and sparkling during the festive season. Things revolve around the truly splendid Christmas market right in the historical city centre. It dates back to the 15th century and features more than 250 stalls. Marvel at its famous giant spruce tree and try some delicacies in the market’s special Scandinavian section.
On to the “daddy” of all Christmas markets in Dresden (approx. 1 hr 30 min drive): Known as “Striezelmarkt“, it is Germany’s oldest and a spectactular sight and delight for the senses. If you time your visit with the stollen festival on the second Advent weekend, you can marvel at a giant version of this special Christmas cake that was invented in Dresden. The many smaller markets, including a medieval one in the city’s Stallhof courtyard add to the experience.
Something truly unique at the end in Herrnhut (approx. 1 hr 20 min drive) where the so-called “Moravian Stars” – known as “Herrnhuter Sterne“ in German – have been handmade since the 19th century. As a unique Christmas decoration, they originated in Saxony within the Moravian Church community. They are produced in this small town all year round and, of course, are on sale at the local Christmas market in December.