Munich’s Christmas Markets

First image...
Holiday glow in Munich's Christkindlmarkt.


Christmas in the City

Christmas cookies galore.
Taste testing is part of the market fun.

By Jenny B. Davis
In Munich, concentrating on the comfort of cookies, wurst, and wine harks back to simpler times, before Louis Vuitton transformed the downtown post office into a three-story, Peter Marino-designed maison, joining the ranks of Hermès, Chanel, Dior, and more stationed along nearby Maximilianstrasse. This chic city hosts myriad Christmas markets – as many as 20, to appeal to every segment of society, including a medieval market, a gay market, and an indie craft fair – but the heart of the party is the traditional Christkindlmarkt that spreads across the old stones of Marienplatz, the central square.

The Scene
Rows of neat, pine-trimmed stalls fill the twelfth-century square, but it feels more like a modern state fair than a nostalgic Christmas village. You can buy everything here but the tree – ornaments, nutcrackers, candles, and artwork – along with a variety of libations to encourage a holiday mood.

Above the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, choirs sing from the Gothic Revival balcony of the New Town Hall, and a massive Christmas tree towers above it all, brought in from a different region of Germany every year and woven with brilliant white lights. And don’t be surprised if you see a few people in the crowd who have taken the theme to heart by wearing their lederhosen or dirndls.

Sausage Served All Day
There are sausage options aplenty, including the city’s famous white sausages. Boiled to a whitish-grayish sheen, Weisswurst is made from lightly spiced veal with a touch of lemon. Purists note that Weisswurst should be morning fare (in the days when it was made from offal and no preservatives, it spoiled quickly) and that the casing should be peeled or cut away. Today, there’s only one real requirement: a dollop of sweet mustard.

And, to Drink
Sausage loves beer, and it’s definitely available in the Marienplatz and nearby markets, including the kid-centric setup in the royal palace, or Residenz, which boasts an animatronic nativity scene and a talking moose (so go easy on that lager, Bullwinkle fans). But glühwein is much more plentiful – it’s Christmas, after all.

Head In to Warm Up
After perusing the markets with a much-refilled souvenir glühwein mug, tuck into the delicious warmth of Dallmayr. Dating to the eighteenth century, it’s part luxury food hall (think Fauchon or Harrods) and part gourmet café, with an extensive exotic coffee menu. The city’s upper crust shops here for sundries, and every display, from the cheese case to the bread baskets to the wine shop, looks like a Renaissance painting.

Don’t miss the bulk coffee bean and tea section, where varieties are stored in giant porcelain vessels, all handmade and handpainted by the artisans at the city’s own Nymphenburg porcelain workshop, which has been located on the grounds of a nearby baroque palace since 1747.

A quick tour of Dallmayr’s dedicated holiday food market and a cup of French press will leave you refreshed and ready to head back into the crisp afternoon air.

Want more market info? Find out where to stay in Munich, and see what Nuremburg’s Christkindlesmarkt has in store.

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, November 2014.

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