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
We start at at Eisenach’s Wartburg Castle which provides the romantic backdrop for a medieval Christmas market. Get ready to time travel …
Wartburg Castle, Eisenach
Each year, the UNESCO-listed Wartburg Castle hosts a historical Christmas market bringing 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. (Market open on first, second and third Advent weekend)
Next destination on your festive route is Erfurt’s christmas market (approx. 1 hr drive). Its setting on Cathedral Square is hard to beat. Cameras at the ready!
Erfurt Christmas market
This Christmas market has it all: Picturesquely set against the backdrop of two splendid gothic churches in Erfurt’s old town, there are not only a multitude of crafts, food and drink stalls, but also a giant ferris wheel and vintage merry-go-rounds to keep you entertained. Check out additional smaller markets in the vicinity, e.g., on Fischmarkt square, Wenigemarkt square or Anger.
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)
Leuchtenburg in the Saale valley is a perfect example of a German hill-top castle and houses a porcelain exhibition, showcasing the fine porcelain that is produced in the region.
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. 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. And another approx. 1 hr 10 min further north, Freiberg’s Christmas market has been voted as one of Germany’s most beautiful.
The Ore Mountains have a tradition of wooden Christmas ornaments and toy making that goes back many centuries which can best be explored in Annaberg-Buchholz’s “Manufaktur der Träume“ (Factory of Dreams), a museum and Christmas wonderland full of colourful decorations and wooden toys.
Certain places are made for Christmas market. With its historic houses and quaint look, former silver mining town Freiberg is certainly one of them. The Christmas market features a giant version of the typical wooden Christmas pyramids made in the Ore Mountains and offers plenty of opportunity to buy traditional wooden handicrafts and decorations.
Our next stop Leipzig (approx. 1 hr 30 min drive) is a city that is all glitter and sparkling during the festive season – and, of course, things revolve around a truly splendid Christmas market right in the historical city centre.
Christmas market in Leipzig
It might date back to the 15th century but it certainly shows no signs of slowing down. Leipzig’s Christmas market features more than 250 stalls and is famous for its giant spruce tree. 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 truly pectactular sight and delight for the senses.
Apart from the big “Striezelmarkt” the many smaller markets, including a medieval one in the city’s Stallhof courtyard, add to your festive experience in Saxony’s capital. Tip: If you time your seasonal visit to coincide 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 being paraded across town.
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. Stock up to give your home a special festive touch!
“Moravian Stars” are a unique Christmas decoration that originated in Saxony within the Moravian Church community. They are produced in Herrnhut all year round and, of course, are on sale at the local Christmas market in December.