Festive sparkle in Germany: candles, mulled wine and snow-laden woods

Dog-sledding, Christmas markets, fairy-tale castles, festive fun in the snow and much more

© Getty Images/Liliboas - GNTO

Snow covers the ground like icing sugar, church bells chime in the distance, and Christmas trees sparkle with golden lights: the whole country seems to be transformed into a magical land in the festive season.

People come together and sing traditional songs, drink Glühwein (mulled wine) by flickering candlelight, bake almond stollen cakes, make straw stars and decorate their homes with colourful baubles and fairy lights.

The 2020 Advent season will be somewhat different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for those that can still travel, the festive atmosphere beckons with peace of mind thanks to social distancing measures and hygiene rules.

Germany is rich in traditions and this is illustrated particularly impressively in the festive period. Celebrations range from the Christmas-wreath-like Jöölboom on the island of Sylt to Räuchermann incense smokers in Saxony and steam train trips with Santa Claus in Saarland.

Here are a few sample virtual journeys your clients can plan for set in a fairy-tale winter landscape in 2021 and beyond.

Christmas markets for nostalgics

Christmas market close to Alexanderplatz, Berlin | source: iStock/Vladimir Piskunov - GNTO

In total, more than 50 markets are gearing up – with new coronavirus safety rules and procedures in place – to fill the squares and streets of Berlin with festive cheer in the lead-up to Christmas. Some markets favour a traditional style, while others place the emphasis on pleasure and indulgence, or even a multicultural twist.

Visitors will be spoilt for choice. From the traditional Christmas market in Spandau to the regal backdrop of Charlottenburg Palace, the urban vibe of the Rotes Rathaus town hall or the nostalgic mood of Rixdorf…. there are too many options to list. More here.

Dashing through the snow on a dogsled

Huskies at a dog sled race | source: German National Tourist Board/Andreas Kaster

Santa Claus, as most of us know, travels round the world on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Unfortunately, this mode of transport isn’t available in North Hesse, where the fairy-tale authors the Brothers Grimm once lived. But you can experience a very similar adventure instead.

In the weeks before Christmas, Siberian huskies harnessed to sleds whisk visitors off on thrilling rides through snowy winter landscapes. If Mother Hulda hasn’t been working hard enough making snow, training carts with wheels are used instead. More here.

Festive fun in the snow

Happy Family Sledding On Snow Covered Field | source: Getty images/Robert Kneschke/EyeEm - GNTO

As well as being a time of reflection, the festive season in Germany is also a joyful period filled with things to do. For fun times in the snow, head to a ski resort such as the ‘Familien-Winterland Mitterdorf’ in the Bavarian Forest, renowned for its reliable snow from Christmas through to March.

The resort is perfect for families and beginners, who can practice their turns here on skis or a snowboard. It offers everything a winter sports enthusiast could wish for: chairlifts, tow lifts, moving carpets, ski schools and toboggan runs. See you on the slopes! More info here.

A fairy-tale Christmas castle

Near Hechingen: Hohenzollern Castle in winter | source: Germany National Tourist Board/Dietmar Scherf

Where better to get into the romantic Christmas spirit than in a festively bedecked fairy-tale castle?

Rheinstein Castle in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley makes this Christmas dream come true. During the Advent period, this medieval castle is transformed into a magical world: parapets and towers are ablaze with light, the castle kitchen serves up delicious treats and storytellers recount tales transporting visitors back in time to the days of knights of old. Fun and adventure for all ages. Learn more here.

A maritime stroll through ‘Holy Hamburg’

Panoramic view of the Hamburg harbour in winter | source: Getty images/GNTB

Hamburg, the ‘pearl of the North’, with the River Elbe, landing bridges and the Elbphilharmonie – a concert hall constructed on top of a warehouse – is a city that lives on and with the water. So it’s hardly surprising to find decorated Christmas trees bobbing on the water here in the festive period.

From ferries to tug boats or the Rickmer Rickmers museum ship, brightly lit trees adorn their decks and create a sparkling festive scene in the harbour area. A stroll along the River Elbe is a great way to enjoy all the magic of this winter wonderland, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Find out more here.

Angels and flower children

Nuremberg: Nutcrackers and pyramids carved from wood | source: Getty images/credit: Malorny

Colourful nutcrackers, pyramids with candles, wafting Räuchermann incense smokers and delicate flower children: an eclectic collection of wooden Christmas carvings, all crafted in the Ore Mountains of Saxony.

Since the 17th century, people from this area have been woodturning, carving and creating intricate paintwork with loving attention to detail. Their exclusive and unique creations are sought after all over the world. A trip to Germany is an ideal opportunity to take a look over the shoulders of these craftspeople at work in visitor centres, such as the toy-making village of Seiffen, and find some beautiful pieces to take back home. More here.

To learn about other winter activities, experiences and encounters in Germany, see germany.travel/en/cities-culture/christmas-markets.html

This article was produced in partnership between LATTE and the German National Tourist Office. For more information on Germany, go to www.germany.travel

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