The Christmas season is a special time in Munich. All the decorations and opportunities to get out and meet friends help ease the transition to winter. There really is something for almost everyone – shopping, hot beverages, food, and live entertainment. Whether you go for a Glühwein after work with colleagues, start off a date night with a walk around the markets, or go during the day with your children, you’ll be sure to feel the holiday spirit! Here’s some information on how to find the markets and a little overview of some of our favorites…
Traditionally, the markets are meant to be open during Advent. These days, they usually open the Monday or Tuesday before the first Sunday of Advent and close around midday on Christmas Eve. For exact dates each year, the City of Munich publishes the opening times for the main markets (in English) and all markets (in German).
The majority of the markets are in the center of the city, but you’ll find them all over Munich and its suburbs. To get an idea of locations, there’s an easy public transportation map of the larger Christmas markets. There’s also a special Christkindltram that takes about half an hour to drive around the city during advent. It leaves from Sendlinger Tor and has hot drinks, cookies, and Christmas music on board.
Our favorite Munich markets
There are some common aspects of almost all the markets, but each one also has a different feel and some different food and shopping options. While you’ll always find Glühwein, hot chocolate, grilled sausages, Christmas cookies, and Christmas ornaments, there are little specialties that make the markets unique.
Münchner Christkindlmarkt – This is the official Munich Christmas market, located at Marienplatz. It’s one of the largest, stretching from Karlsplatz to Marienplatz and down to the Rindermarkt. You’ll find a little bit of everything here as well as many activities taking place throughout the month. For example, on two Sundays, you can see the Krampus Run; a tradition unique to the Alpine region. The market has smaller sections, including the Kripperlmarkt, where you can buy everything you need for a manger scene.
Rindermarkt –This little market behind Marienplatz is a local favorite. It’s a lovely little market centered around a life-sized Weihnachtspyramide, but it has a few unique food and drink options. In addition to Glühwein, there’s also a Feuerzangebowle stand, a fish stand that serves prosecco, fried fish and woodfire-grilled fish, and a Kaiserschmarrn stand. This is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat if you want something other than the usual fare. Be warned: the Feuerzangebowle is very strong!!!
Schwabinger Christmas Market – Located at Münchner Freiheit, this market is more focused on art. In addition to the food booths, you’ll find a wide variety of artists selling their products. It’s an excellent place to pick up a unique gift.
Residenz – The Christmas Village in the courtyard of the Residenz is a must-see at night when it’s lit up and sparkling. It’s a great place to buy beautiful ornaments and the kids will enjoy the fairy tale displays with talking figures. Be sure to check the website for the weekly program – there are puppet shows and a St. Nikolaus for free photos with kids. Many evenings also have live music for adults.
Something a little different
Märchen Bazar – This is a charming little alternative Christmas Bazar for all ages. It’s in the Viehhofgelände, near Poccistrasse. In addition to outdoor seating, it also has three small circus-style tents. Inside the (heated!!!) tents are vendors, seats, and live music. The vendors sell products from around the world, ethically-sourced goods, handcrafted liquors, crystals, and jewelry. There’s a wide variety of food – from burgers and bratwurst to falafel and Indian curries, as well as an excellent coffee stand and vegan döner. If you’re looking for vegan and vegetarian options, this is the market for you! There’s also a small kids’ play area in one of the tents and activities scheduled for kids. It’s a great option on weekends with children or weekdays with girlfriends.
Mittelalter Market – For something totally different, check out the Middle Ages Market at Wittelsbacher Platz. The vendors here focus on more medieval handcrafts including jewelry, soap, candles, costumes, and many handmade products. In addition to the usual fare, you’ll find hot mead, smoked fish, roast suckling pig, and Baumstriezel (a bread that’s rolled in strips around a tube, dusted with sugar and cooked over a fire). This market closes early (at 20:00) with a night watchman making the rounds.
Pink Christmas – Located in the Glockenbachviertel, this brightly-colored modern market is put on by the LGBTQ community. It’s a perfect stop on a night out, with beautiful lights and daily live music and DJs.
Best with Children
Chinese Tower – For a Christmas market experience for the entire family, the Chinese Tower market is an excellent bet – day or night. You can buy various handmade products from wood, felt, ceramic and metal, as well as food and drinks. For the kids, there are many options: a woodworking shop where you can make small projects, Christmas story readings (in German), visits from St. Nikolaus and a wooden carousel. You can also rent the two Eisstock lanes (similar to curling) or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the English Garden.
Bogenhauser Weihnachtszauberwald – This market located near Cosimabad, is targeted towards families with children. In addition to the usual food and drink, there’s a train ride, a carousel, ceramic painting, and a variety of special entertainment throughout the month. For the adults, there is a good variety of food and one of the largest varieties of hot beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). If you’re bringing a large group, it is possible to reserve tables in advance for groups of more than ten people!
Open Past Christmas
If you don’t get your fill of the season before Christmas, there are a few options that stay open longer:
Tollwood – Located on the Oktoberfest grounds at Theresienwiese, this is more of a winter arts festival that has beer tents with a Christmas market on-site. The Christmas market is only open during Advent, but the festival itself begins a few days earlier and runs through to New Year’s Eve. In addition to handmade items for sale, there are concerts, shows, and other entertainment daily. Some shows will require you to buy tickets in advance.
Münchner Eiszauber – From late November to late January, Karlsplatz is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink. You can rent skates on the spot and there also are daily music themes and parties…and of course an Alpine hut where you can have a Glühwein and a snack.
Die Münchner Feuerzangenbowle – From the first of December through to the sixth of January, you can get Feuerzangebowle at this cozy area under the gate at Isartor, as well as French fries, sandwiches, and sausages.
Enjoy the season!
Anne Frazier Ahrens came to Munich as a single gal from Texas with a successful career in finance. A decade later, she’s still here… now a married, full-time mom to a daughter with Down Syndrome and a very full social calendar. Since trading investor meetings for coffee dates, she’s enjoying having more time to explore all that Munich has to offer – and continues her quest to visit all of Munich’s beer gardens.