If you are spending the holiday season in Munich, you are in for a real treat. Atmospheric weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) spring up all over Munich’s Old Town, churches and cathedrals are filled with holiday singing and organ recitals, and Munich’s shopping streets are decked out in sparkling lights. And all that with the romantic backdrop of the snow-capped Alps.
Munich’s famous Münchner Christkindlmarkt rund um den Marienplatz (Christmas Market on Marienplatz) dates back to 1642. It is celebrated in the heart of the altstadt (Old Town) with a 100-feet high Christmas tree that towers over traditionally decorated booths.
What’s the holiday season without Christmas carols? One of the best spots to listen to German Christmas music is the impressive Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Its twin towers are a landmark of Munich's impressive skyline.
Throughout December, Bavarian choirs and musicians herald the season with classical concerts, organ recitals, and music-filled church services. Note that church services free, but tickets are required for concerts.
The Tollwood Winter Festival is held on the same fairgrounds as Oktoberfest and feature an international Christmas market. Here you can hunt for treasures from around the world and sample organic ethnic food. Locals love this festival for its colorful cultural program, which is famous for its world music, art workshops, plus theater and circus performances.
The market is held from late November til end of December. Entrance is free, but some performances require tickets. If you arrive after Christmas, take part in the legendary Silvester (New Year’s Eve) party.
It is set-up every November through January in Munich’s famous shopping district at Karlspatz Square. Bring the kids during the day or come here with a date to glide under the stars at night with chill music and a light show. You can treat yourself to a warm mug of heiße schokolade (hot chocolate) from the booths surrounding the ice rink to warm up.
Entrance costs 5 - 8.50 euros (depending on time of day; discounts for children) and skates are available for rental.
Kripperlmarkt is Munich’s manger market and focuses on the holiday's religious roots. It is walking distance to the city’s central christkindlmarkt and dates back to 1757.
The market is devoted to the biblical manger and nativity figures made in Germany. From baby Jesus and the Christmas angel, to animals, lanterns for the barn, and the gifts of the three Magi, the manger market offers wonderful souvenirs and everything you’ll need to create your own nativity scene.
In the center of Munich’s grandiose Royal Residence, you’ll find a quaint Christmas village. Small wooden huts are dwarfed by the palace, complete with a little chapel and a life-seized nativity scene.
Watch traditional toy makers, goldsmiths, wood carvers, glassblowers, and knife grinders at work, while the kids take a ride on historic carousels or meet Nikolaus, the German Santa Claus. There is also a stage with daily live music and entertainment.
Munich is one of the more conservative places in Germany, but that doesn't mean their largest festivals don't cater to the LGBT community. If you had your share of traditional German Christmas markets, visit Pink Christmas for a gay and lesbian market.
There are white pagoda tents and delightfully tacky pink plastic Christmas trees. Everything is softly lit as market-goers enjoy the handcrafted wares from local designers and delicious market food. Pink Christmas is free, beloved for its live entertainment, and it’s a fun place for the whole family.