Every year, when the days get shorter, I get excited for Christmas. The Christmas Market in Frankfurt is one of the highlights of this season, and I can’t wait to get out and have a cup of hot Glühwein.
Usually, the month of December means meet-ups with friends and co-workers at the Christmas Market. Plus, we like to go by ourselves a few times, just to enjoy the lights and look at the various handicrafts.
Even though we’ve lived in Frankfurt for a few years already, we discover new things every time we go. Last winter, for example, I found out that you can get amazing grilled salmon at the market. We have also discovered some of the smaller markets, which are all worth visiting.
If you come to Germany in December, you should consider adding Frankfurt to your itinerary. After all, you don’t want to miss one of Germany’s biggest Christmas Markets, do you?
In this post, you’re going to get all the practical information you need for visiting the Christmas Market Frankfurt.
Also, make sure to check out our post with general advice you should know about visiting German Christmas markets.
Christmas Market Frankfurt
History of the Frankfurt Christmas Market
Even though you can now find Christmas Markets in many countries around the world, they originated in German-speaking Europe. Back in the Middle Ages, seasonal markets were a common occurrence and eventually, so-called “December Markets” popped up that quickly turned into “Christmas Markets”.
The market in Frankfurt is one of the oldest in Germany. You can find records as old 1393 that already mention it. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Of course, back then, Christmas Markets looked quite different to today. They consisted only of a few vendors coming to town to sell their wares. But eventually, they evolved. Soon, everyone went there to buy Christmas presents and have fun.Martin Luther possibly played a role in making Christmas Markets more popular when he suggested that children should receive presents “from the Christ child”, at Christmas. Before that, children would traditionally receive their presents on St. Nicholas, 6 December or on St. Martin, 11 November.
The Christmas Market takes place during the month before Christmas and is open every day.
Christmas Market Frankfurt Dates: 23 November – 22 December 2020
- Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
- Sunday: 11am – 9pm
Where to find the Christmas Markets in Frankfurt
You can find the Christmas Market at many locations all over Frankfurt. Below, we have listed all of them so you won’t miss out on anything. The Frankfurt Tourist Information has published a map with all the locations of the Christmas Market, to give you a better idea of where to go.
Nevertheless, you can also find Christmas Markets in and around Frankfurt that are not on the map. If that is the case, we have indicated how to get there so you can easily find those markets.
Primary Christmas Market at Römerberg
The main Christmas Market spreads out at Römerberg. We highly recommend that you start here, as this is also one of the most beautiful corners of Frankfurt’s Old Town.
Here on Römerberg (or Römer, as locals like to call it), in front of the Town Hall, you will find a huge Christmas tree. How they manage to find such a giant tree each year and how they manage to transport it to Frankfurt is beyond me. But I guarantee you that this tree will leave you in awe.
Römer is also a great location if you want to ride a vintage carousel or just take pictures of the market with a backdrop of half-timbered houses. When you look around, it is hard to believe that this area was bombed almost to the ground during WW II and reconstruction went on until a few years ago.
While here, make sure to also go behind the half-timbered houses to discover more stands selling mulled wine and other delicacies.
From Römerberg, you have the choice of either going north or south. If you go south, you will end up at the Main River. I found that area less crowded, so this is a great spot to come to if you want to breathe a little. The Frankfurt Christmas Market receives more than 3 million visitors each year, so the area on Römerberg is usually packed with people.
The second extension of the primary Christmas Market spreads out to the north of Römerberg. On Paulsplatz, you will rows and rows of stalls. This square is a great place to buy traditional handicrafts from Frankfurt. Here, you can find all kinds of gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.
Make sure to also go into the honey house. This house is a real half-timbered house that comes from the Odenwald region south of Frankfurt. A company sets it up every year in front of St Paul’s Church and takes it down again at the end of December.
The house looks fantastic from the outside, but the real fun is going inside. Here, you will discover lots of honey from a local beekeeping farm. Go upstairs to find the table with the open jars, where you can taste as much honey as you want to.
If you keep walking north, you will end up at Hauptwache. Here, you can find more food stalls offering traditional Frankfurt Christmas cookies and other great snacks.
If you still need to buy Christmas presents and haven’t found anything at the market yet, you will also find the shopping mall My Zeil here.
You can find this unique market close to Hauptwache. The Pink Christmas, called Rosa Weihnacht in German, is Frankfurt’s LGBTQ Christmas market.
To be honest, I don’t think this market is very different from the rest, except for the pink light. But I still love coming here. Pink Christmas is THE place to get grilled salmon! You can also buy amazing hot Apfelwein and other great delicacies here.
What to eat and drink at the Christmas Market Frankfurt
You can’t visit the Christmas Market in Frankfurt without drinking at least one cup of mulled wine, or Glühwein, as we call it in German. Traditionally, we make this drink with red wine and add various spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise.
You can also find mulled wine made from white wine. As the Main valley is famous for its grapes, it is not unusual for stalls to use good quality wine to prepare the drink. Look out for the small stands that belong to local vineyards.Don’t want to drink alcohol? Then go for Kinderpunsch, where red juice replaces the red wine. This juice is sweet, sticky and incredibly delicious.
Hot Apple Wine
Here in Frankfurt, locals love drinking Apfelwein, which literally translates to apple wine. This drink resembles cider, but with a more sour and less sparkly aftertaste.
As apple wine is insanely popular in the region, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that you can buy a hot, spiced version at the Christmas Market Frankfurt.
Remember to bring back your mug or glass after you’ve finished your drink, as you will get some money back. Also, check out our other advice for visiting German Christmas Markets.
Bethmännchen and Brenten
While at the Christmas market, you should stop at one of the stalls that sell traditional Christmas cookies from Frankfurt. The dough for both cookies is the same, although a few variations exist, especially for Brenten.
Bethmännchen is made of marzipan dough that consists of ground almonds, rose water and powdered sugar. The legend goes that the first person to make these cookies was Jean Jacques Gautenier, a French baker who used to bake for a local family in Frankfurt. Simon Moritz von Bethmann, the head of the family, asked Gautenier to decorate the cookies with four almonds, one for each of his sons.
After one of Bethmann’s sons died, Gautenier only used three almonds to decorate the cookies, and that is how you will still see them today.
Brenten are very similar to Bethmännchen except for their shape. Instead of shaping them into a ball, bakers will press them into moulds decorated with many local and Christmas-related motives.
Both cookies are a local speciality that you can only find here in Frankfurt (and some surrounding towns). They are, in fact, so local that even though I grew up only three hours away, I had never heard of them until I moved here.
Germany is famous for its sausages, and therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that you can buy them everywhere at the Christmas market in Frankfurt. We recommend that you try a few different ones. Go for a traditional Bratwurst (roasted sausage) first, but make sure to also try the Rindsbratwurst. I know the name is quite the mouthful, but this sausage made from beef is delicious!
You can also find Currywurst, a typical German dish, in many places. While it’s not related to Christmas, this is as good a time as any to try it. Currywurst consists of sliced sausage served with a curry sauce. You eat it either with French fries or with a bread roll on the side.
One of my favourite dishes at the Frankfurt Christmas market is Flammlachs, salmon grilled on a wooden board by the fire. You can get it at the Pink Christmas market. This dish is so delicious that I came here multiple times last year to buy some salmon.
While Flammlachs comes originally from Finland, it is becoming more and more popular at German Christmas markets. Maybe it’s because the fire looks cosy during this cold season, or perhaps because it just tastes incredible.
Reibekuchen / Kartoffelpuffer
These potato pancakes have different names all over Germany. Ask for Kartoffelpuffer, and everyone will know what you mean.
Kartoffelpuffer are a very simple dish. These small pancakes mostly consist of potatoes, mixed together with some flour and eggs to keep everything together. You can find them at different stalls, where you can then watch the vendor fry them.
You have the choice between multiple toppings, but I recommend that you go for the most traditional one, which is apple sauce. Yes, it sounds a bit weird, but believe me. It’s delicious.
What to buy at the Frankfurt Christmas Market
The Christmas Market Frankfurt is a great place to either buy a souvenir from your trip or to get gifts for friends and family. You can find lots of different handicraft stores in this market, so it can be quite hard to choose. Let us help you by telling you about our favourites:
Quetschemännchen are a very traditional souvenir from Frankfurt. Those little figurines are made with dried plums and nuts and often dressed as either chimney sweepers or musicians. Traditionally, young men would send them to a girl they liked. If she kept the figurine and didn’t send it back, it meant that he had a chance with her.
The little plum men are also said to bring good luck, so make sure to buy one while you’re here.
Do you see how many of the souvenirs we recommend end in “Männchen”? It’s the German word for “little man”. Räuchermännchen are smoking little men, traditionally carved from wood.
Most of them hold a pipe in their hand, which is where you’ll see the smoke rise from, but you can also find variations. My grandma had a woman holding a bowl of potato dumplings, with steam rising from the bowl.
Do you want a classic souvenir from Frankfurt that is also useful? Then buy a Bembel, the traditional jug in which you can serve Apfelwein. Yes, we use them at any time of the year and not just at Christmas. But as you can only find them here in the area, they are a great souvenir to bring home.
Daniel’s mum collects those little Christmas houses, and we’ve wanted to bring her one for ages. You can find those ceramic houses at various stalls at the Christmas market and even in some shops in the city centre of Frankfurt.
Most of the houses will represent traditional German buildings but since you’re here, try to get one from Frankfurt. What about the town hall, for example? Or some of the traditional buildings from Römer?
If you’re not sure where a building comes from, don’t worry. Just ask the vendor, they’ll be able to help you.
Christmas Markets near Frankfurt
Let me be honest with you. Even though we’ve lived in Frankfurt for a while now, we haven’t made it to any nearby markets yet. This year is going to be even harder, as we don’t know yet if and how any Christmas markets will take place.
We have lots of friends from here, though, who have told us about their favourite markets. Christmas markets in the area that we can therefore recommend are:
- Wiesbaden Christmas Market
- Mainz Christmas Market
- Christmas Market in Bad Homburg
- Hanau Christmas Market
We hope we have convinced you that you need to come to Frankfurt in December to visit the Christmas Market. It is a great experience every year, and we love going there multiple times to buy gifts, eat salmon, drink mulled wine and meet up with friends.
If you have any questions that we didn’t manage to answer, please leave us a comment, and we will help you out!
Also, if you haven’t done so yet, read our useful advice you need to know before visiting a German Christmas Market!
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