Friday, December 14, 2012

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Munich, Germany

A few years ago Bernhard could not come home  from Iraq for Christmas. I decided to distract myself with taking a Christmas Market tour not only in Germany, but in Switzerland and France as well. I wrote all about the 40 plus markets  I visited in eight cities on another expat blog I wrote then. In looking back over these posts recently, I fell in love with the magic of European Christmas Markets all over again and decided to share a few of them with you. 

the first up is Munich, Germany. there are so many lovely different themed Christmas markets in this wonderful city. I visited most of them in this post.

Christmas Market Roundup - Munich, Germany

There is so much I could write about this wonderful city. München is the city of my heart. It's where I made my dream of living in Europe come true. It's where my husband and I fell in love. It's where I met lifelong friends. I spent happy years living and working here, loving my job and my colleagues. I have never felt so at home in a city as I do in elegant Munich and it seems every time I return, I am always rediscovering it's beauty.

The lifestyle in Munich is unparalleled. It's place where you can surf in the Isar. Jump in your car, motorcycle or hop a train and in less than an hour you are in the splendor of the alps. The museums are incredible. Munich has the fourth leading art gallery in the world. It's the home of the Blue Rider school and the Lenbach house houses these incredible paintings. Besides all the wonderful art museums, you could spend a week just visiting the palaces and royal Bavarian jewels or tracing WW II history. The Englisher Garten is a wonder and bigger than Central Park. It's home to the world famous Oktoberfest and there is no better place to spend an afternoon in the summer than in one of Munich's biergartens. I could go on and on..

Christmas time here is especially magical. There are Christmas markets all over town Walking between them feels like one big festive event. I didn't get to all of them in the short 4 days I was there this trip but made an effort to visit some markets I have never seen before.

The Lufthansa terminal at Munich Airport is flat out gorgeous. Sparkling clean with lovely stores and conveniences, it almost makes flying a pleasurable experience. A lovely Christmas market is set up (with a skating rink!) for new arrivals or travelers who are killing time between planes.

My first evening I had dinner plans with my girlfriends but I managed to hit two more Christmas Markets, one before dinner and one after.

First was the market at Sendlinger Tor, a beautiful location in front of one of the remaining old gates of the city.

After dinner the girls and I headed over to Pink Christmas located in Glockenbachviertel (GBV), a trendy section of town populated by gays and creatives. This is Munich's gay Christmas market. I found it last year when I was headed over to a friend for dinner who lives in the neighborhood. When I got off the tram, I heard a drag queen singing "The Love Boat". Being the fag hag that I am, I practically mowed down Christmas shoppers as I ran to the market. With disco balls, great music and pink Christmas trees, it's just adorable. I had fun there this year with the girls.

The Girls: With Erin and Margeaux

The booths are adorned with large pink ribbons and inside were fabulous, PINK trinkets to buy.

Of course a booth featuring and AIDS support service where we all bought AIDS bears from a leather queen.

Loved this Tussi on Tour Santa cap. It means Tart on Tour

The next day I headed over to meet a friend at the Christmas market in my old hood, Münchener Freiheit in Schwabing. My husband and I had a great apartment on this street (reddish pink building on the right, second floor), a five minute walk from the Englischer Garten.

Our balcony overlooked the Christmas market at Münchener Freiheit. This market is full of local artists displaying their wares. I loved this sign (bottom right)  at the roasted chestnut stand. It's a little rhyme meaning if you get a bad chestnut when you buy a bag, you can exchange it.

You can see our old apartment between the buildings in the last shot on the right.

Flower shop at Münchener Freiheit.

Then we headed off into the Englischer Garten to visit the Christmas market at the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower). With it's location in the heart of the park, this is one of the prettiest markets in Munich.

The entrance.

A number of the booths are set up like little stores you can walk into


Takin' a break.

Nice scene in the dusk on our way out..

The following day the plan was to visit the Christmas market on the Fraueninsel. This is an island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee (Bavarian Sea), about an hour outside of Munich. I have been there before but never at Christmas time. Fraueninsel hosts a beautiful old Abbey and Herrenisnel, the other inhabited island on the lake is home to a spectacular palace built by (mad) King Ludwig II and built to resemble Versailles.

I've heard great things over the years about this market on Fraueninsel so I hopped on the train to Prien am Chiemsee which is where you catch the ferry to the islands. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way the market is only on for the first two weeks of the month I was disappointed but took the opportunity to visit this sweet little Christmas market in lovely Prien clustered around a beautiful church.

Memorial to people who died in WW II

Munich train station and Santa handing out candy at the UBahn station

When I arrived back in Munich I headed over to Marienplatz to visit the main Christmas market in the center of town at the Marienplatz the location of town hall. On the way I passed Karlsplatz where a skating rink was set up in front of the Karlstor, another of the remaining old city gates. It was snowing.

The walk from Karlsplatz to Marienplatz was magical...

Musicians making merry..

Munich's beautiful Rathaus (town hall) is located at the Marienplatz

A stand with a replica of Munich's famous Frauenkirche on top.

Delicious or "lekker" in German

Cookie cutter heaven

Traditional Bavarian ornaments

There is a extention of the market in the courtyard of the Rathaus (Town Hall)

This is another section of the main market off of Marienplatz

After Marienplatz I wandered over to Isator, another of the city's old gates where a small but funky market was set up.

Old German movies were projected on the walls of the gate.

A little pink truck selling homemade chocolates.

Love the Chandelier

On my last full day in Munich I visited three Christmas markets I had never been to before.

The first was on the Praterinsel, an island in the middle of the Isar where I met my friend Alisa and her daughter Anou. This market was mostly indoors, only the food vendors were outside.

Alisa and Anou by the Isar

Inside the market

On the way out we met this penguin who was distributing heart and fish shaped ice cubes out of a big gold purse.

From the Praterinsel we walked over to Odeonsplatz to the Medieval Christmas market, highly recommended by Alisa and Anou. They were so right. This market was fantastic. bigger and better than the medieval one in Cologne.

Sword fighting demo

No medieval experience is complete without drinking Met, hot honey wine with a shot of whiskey.

There were several falcons to admire. The handlers were very friendly and answered tons of questions we pelted at them.

Best Shopping finds

This man made whimsical wearable items out of felt. Love the banana slippers

Reindeer pelts from Finland. Not my thing, but we were assured the Reindeer was eaten for it's meat, not killed for it's fur. Period clothing for sale.

Alisa bought one of these beautiful knives from the Czech Republic.

Anou loved these fairies made of wool

Handmade bows and arrows

After I said goodbye to Alisa and Anou, I backtracked to the main Christmas market to meet up with some more friends for some Glüwein. Before I called it a night, I stopped by the Christmas market in the courtyard of The Residence, the city's royal palace. I had passed by earlier and snapped a pix of the entrance when it was still daylight. When I came back after dark, it was a pleasant surprise to see the beautiful artistic lighting.

A special section for children with dolls depicting of Christmas and fairy tales

Best shopping buys:

Tracht or traditional Bavarian clothing (lederhosen, dirndl, etc.)

Turkish delights

Some more scenes from the Residence Christmas market

So that's was my Munich report. Stay tuned for Christmas Market tours of other cities in the next days!


  1. I've always wanted to visit some German Christmas markets, but I had no idea there were so many just in Munich! Paul and I are hoping to make it to Germany and Austria sometime next year or in 2014. That gives me plenty of time to sit down with the Rosetta Stone and bring my high-school German up to scratch. Hopefully. :-)

  2. Phew...I'm exhausted from this beautiful tour! I'm glad that you were able to get together with friends and do this last year to help pass the season but I'm really happy that you and Dr. B are together this year :)

  3. This is fabulous! Just saw my first German Christmas markets in Berlin last year and I loved it. But clearly the Munich ones put even those to shame. So fun! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I've always wanted to go to a Christmas market! These look like so much fun!

  5. i spent a few years in germany as an army brat. my younger sister was born in Munich. this post brought back memories of the christmas mart held in Stuttgart, complete with smells. thank you so much.

    1. You're welcome Susan. Germany is so magical at Christmas. Happy New Year!


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