Stuttgart’s Christmas Markets Re-Open for the Perfect Holiday Weekend
After two years of being closed due to Covid, Stuttgart is reopening its famous Christmas market as will the nearby towns of royal Ludwigsburg and medieval Esslingen. Illuminations and Swabian fare delight visitors
Starting Wednesday, November 23 at 6:00 pm with a concert in the courtyard of the Old Palace, Stuttgart will re-open its beloved Christmas market. In heart of the old town between the New Palace, Schiller Square, the Old Palace, and the marketplace, the merry scene will unfold once again. It will be especially sweet after two years of being closed for Covid. Dating back to the early 17th century, Stuttgart’s market is one of Europe’s finest with 290 kiosks of handmade treasures, delicious foods, including its own Springerle stall and the dark, sweet Hutzelbrot, along with stunning light displays from the botanical garden down to the main square.
One of the best parts about visiting Stuttgart before Christmas, is that you not only get one of Germany’s oldest and most established markets, but also two additional and distinctly different Christmas markets. The royal town of Ludwigsburg will start a day earlier and the elegant backdrop of the renaissance palace and gardens is a treat; while the medieval Christmas market at Esslingen will have your blood thrumming to the beat of the drums, the costumes, and fire jugglers. Scents of mulled wine, gingerbread and punch waft through the air accompanied by seasonal treats.
In Stuttgart, the painstakingly-decorated roofs of the stalls, from Santa Claus with his fluffy white beard to traditional Nativity figures or wonderful winter landscapes, never fail to delight. Each year visitors and a jury choose the best Christmas market stalls. Traditional Swabianspecialties and delicacies, include a “Springerle” stall selling not only the carved wooden molds needed to produce this traditional cookie, but also the aniseed-flavored biscuits themselves. And “Hutzelbrot” – a sweet fruit loaf made of dark yeast dough — is an absolute ‘must’ when strolling round the Christmas market. Children get their own special activities at the Children’s Christmas market with hands-on activities, a genuine miniature steam engine, and the live animals in the Nativity scene.
Another special addition is the Stuttgart Christmas Garden in the Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Gardens which transform into a romantic fairy-tale wonderland with glittering light installations and audio-visual effects. The circular walk takes visitors past illuminated animal sculptures and laser animations in the redwood grove.
Around 150 stalls at the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market, could fulfil every Christmas stocking: glove puppets and music boxes, antique and modern Christmas tree decorations and much more besides are on offer. In addition to the traditional Christmas Market food, there are also Swabian specialties to delight the palate, such as Schupfnudeln (potato noodles) and “Holzofendinnede” – a delicacy similar to tarte flamb, baked in a wood-fired
oven. The gingerbread at the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market is traditionally served fresh from the oven. The illuminations are no less special than the arrangement of the stalls, which reflect the symmetry and straight lines of Ludwigsburg’s streets and the gardens of its famous Baroque palace. In the evenings there’s atmospheric music to round off the day.
At Esslingen’s Medieval and Christmas market, merchants in historical costumes will peddle their wares just as they did hundreds of years ago. Dyers, felters, blacksmiths and glass blowers will demonstrate traditional crafts, and stilt walkers, jugglers, fire eaters and minstrels ply their trades around the more than 200 stalls. The concert of medieval music in St. Paul’s Cathedral and the atmospheric backdrop of timbered houses and romantic alleyways are what make Esslingen’s Christmas and Medieval Market an experience second to none. Various workshops are on offer: Visitors can learn the old market language, find out how to smoke food, take part in a stick-fighting course or produce their own tinder. The main highlight will take place on 21st December at the winter solstice, when visitors and market traders alike join in the popular torchlight procession up to the castle. Once they get there, the fire show begins and the winter is welcomed with drums and song.
In general, the Christmas markets are open by 11 am and close around 8.30 pm, and even later on the weekends. The markets in Ludwigsburg and Esslingen open on Tuesday, November 22 and run through December 22 while Stuttgart’s market begins November 23 and runs to December 23. So, a long weekend will give you just enough time to visit all of the markets and enjoy their individual handicrafts, atmospheres, and delicacies. The towns of Ludwigsburg and Esslingen are only a 20-minute train ride from the city center.
The city also has a great deal to offer in addition to its lovely Christmas markets! Some people say that you cannot get a better car experience outside of Stuttgart. The Mercedes Benz Museum, the Porsche Museum, the classic cars at MOTORWORLD, overnighting in a car-themed room, the Bertha Benz Route, and Daimler’s workshop are enough to make auto hearts beat a bit faster. Others get excited about the modern architecture, including the White Housing Estate, the new library, and the palaces and gardens. Many visitors appreciate the fine arts and history museums and evenings at the famous ballet and opera. Stuttgart has 7 Michelin stars but the small cafes and non-starred restaurants offer excellent local dishes. Surrounded by wine hills, the city always has excellent local varieties on tap, and you can enjoy delightful evenings in seasonal pubs in the wine hills. The shopping is luxurious and distinctive with many brands and stores that one does not find in the U.S. or Canada. Stuttgart is easily accessible from all major European cities by train and plane and hotels are plentiful.