Christmas markets are one of the most popular attractions during the winter month in Germany. Every larger city has one and everyone has their own little perks. One of the most charming markets has to be the medieval Christmas market in Esslingen. The market is located right in the old center of town and surrounded by medieval half-timbered houses built anywhere from the 13th to the 16th century. The stream that heads through the town with is little bridges just adds to the feeling. Actors and performers are dressed in the era appropriate garb, making the illusion nearly perfect. The market was visited by over one million eager time travelers last year, why not join them?
You may notice a difference between the Esslingen booths and vendors, compared to the other markets that you have visited. A lot of emphasis is placed on selling local products and crafts. With over 200 booths this market is one of the largest in the region. But the booths not only sell anything from baskets to fresh baked goods, most of them have life demonstrations of how the items were made back then, so you can watch a blacksmith work the metals, or watch carpenters or bowmakers. Feel free to ask them questions too, they are eager to share their knowledge about their craft.
There are many events and staged areas going during the day, an outdoor theatre to watch actors, bards, minstrels and jesters that perform. There is a Christmas isle with a beautiful living nativity scene. And of course, the daily Charivari parade at 4pm. There is also an area set up just for children to play, with the medieval Ferris wheel, bow and arrow shooting, and fun crafts and games. Additionally, to that every Advent weekend there is a little Advent market with about 30 vendors and booths right along the Ritterstrasse. Be sure to check out the little markets with its arts and crafts there.
As with every Christmas market, once you enter the market you are hit with all the smells of the delicious food and drink of the markets. But this market offers some specialties that you can’t find at the regular markets. One of them being Hypocras an old fashion traditional mulled wine, or Glühwein as it’s called here. Of course, they also offer honey mead, hot spiced beer and many other particular beverages. There is plenty to choose from for the foodies too. The medieval delicacies like roasted meats, soups and stews, fresh baked cakes and honey loaded deserts. If you prefer the modern foods, do not despair, curry wurst and fries are also found at this market.
Once the sun goes down the atmosphere in the market begins to change, torches and candles are lit and the houses are illuminated. It gives the whole market an even more romantic feeling. The market crier will announce the different events during the day and the evening, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for him.
One of the unique things about the Esslingen Christmas market are the private wash tubs that you can soak in, yes you heard that right, public hot tubs to watch people from!! You can rent yourself and a group of 4-6 friends one of those hot tubs to sit in drink mulled wine, and watch people at the Christmas market, completely naked!! Once you arrive at your hot tub, curtains will be drawn for you to get undressed and rinsed off and for you to climb in, once everyone is situated, curtains are drawn open so you can watch the crowds at the busy market. If you are up to the challenge, feel free to book your spot on their website at: www.badezuber.de. They do advice to bring your own towel, and if you insist a bathing suit, but advice against it because of the cold on the wet fabric.
The Christmas market is easily reachable by car or public transport. But we do advice you to stick you the busses and trains if you want to sample the many alcoholic beverages. You can get to the Esslingen station via the S-1 train from Stuttgart main station in around 12 minutes. It is possible to take a bus to the Marktplatz, but it also possible to walk. Finding a parking spot for your car may be a challenge, especially on the weekends.
The market is open from Tuesday, November 28 to Thursday, December 22 from 11am to 8:30pm. I hope you enjoy your trip back in time!