It’s that time of the year again – where some parts of the world await a white blanket, others see expats pack their bags and get on the plane to home, and then some where gluhwein is all the rage. The latter would be Germany, with its infamous Christmas Markets and local favourites on display, for merrily buzzed men and women.

I had my first taste of Christmas Markets in 2014, and didn’t quite understand them then. Also, the smell of mulled wine was new for me, and frankly, I couldn’t stand it. So N and I escaped to a strip show, in Hamburg. That story deserves a separate post, and too much courage. Maybe some other time.

Anyway. Back to Christmas Markets. If you are a newbie, here’s what you should know, expect and indulge in:

  • A christmas market is an open fair, with lots of stalls selling food, wine and local craft. The bigger ones also have an entertainment section, which can have ferris wheel, ice skating rink, live band or adult only zones. It depends on how lucky you are.
  • There are likely a handful of christmas markets in every major Germany city. Legend has it that they are the same every single year – including the placement of most stalls.
  • If you want to sample German cuisine, this could be a great place to start. There are small plates, made fresh, alongside the usual culprits (crepes and potatoes). I gave sauerkraut a go, and won’t be able to do it again. But you know what was delicious? Sugar and cinnamon coated dry fruits. There is some anise there too, and the aroma will beckon you to it. It’s like grandma’s kitchen on a cold winter night. Hmmm.
  • As far as drinks go, christmas markets are known for mulled wine (glühwein) – it’s made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins. There are non-alcoholic versions as well – hot punch and hot chocolate are some of the most popular options.
  • What can you buy at christmas markets? It depends on whether you are a tourist or live in Germany. If you are former, go crazy. There are handmade glass jewellery station, locals selling wooden craft, russian matryoshkas, pottery – all sorts of beautiful (albeit random) things that you will fall in love with.

It might be too late this year, but mark the following locations on Google maps and make sure to check them out in December 2017 for twinkling weihnachtsmarkts:

Merry Christmas everybody!