With Christmas coming up, where better to find unusual and unique gifts than in Germany? Following scaled-down activities over the past couple of years, Hamburg is kicking off the Yuletide season this November with both new and familiar highlights. This includes 16 Christmas markets, Christmas parades, the return of the Flying Father Christmas outside the town hall, and a wealth of shopping opportunities and culinary delights.
Colourful, lively, maritime, and Hanseatic: it’s this special time of year when Hamburg demonstrates its quality as a destination.
With as many as 16 Christmas markets across the city, Hamburg invites visitors to take a festive stroll and explore the different quarters of town.
Start your Christmas tour at the Historic Christmas Market by the Roncalli Circus, hosted in the heart of the city just outside the town hall. Featuring 80 merchants and artisans in a nostalgic setting, this market takes you back in time, with classic toys, traditional woodcarvings as well as organic gingerbread and mulled wine served from historic carts. Three times a day you can turn your gaze upwards as Father Christmas himself can be seen riding his sleigh above the Christmas market. Just around the corner, the White Magic market captivates visitors with its sea of lights and its lovely location on the Inner Alster Lake, which houses the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the middle of the lake.
The gingerbread village at the Gänsemarkt is a delight to behold. During the Advent season, the entire square is transformed into an idyllic little village of gingerbread houses. Just around is one of North Germany’s most exclusive shopping districts which features many flagship stores of designer brands, perfect for last minute Christmas shopping. Hamburg’s main shopping street, the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz square awaits visitors with its Winterfrost market. The little forest made of real fir trees is the perfect Christmas-themed selfie spot. Right next to the square, the colourful Hamburg Christmas parades set off to spread the joy of Christmas – on each Saturday during the Advent season at 2 pm and 5 pm.
The port of Hamburg is the place to go for maritime Christmas markets. At Landungsbrücken, four Scandinavian Christmas bazaars will open. The Nordic Christmas Markets offer an authentic Nordic atmosphere, with traditional delicacies and regional specialities from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Christmas Market at St Michaelis Church first took place in 1922 and Hamburg’s oldest Christmas market has long become an integral part of Christmas for Hamburg’s locals. Over 100 craft stalls in and around the building, some of these in the crypt, invite visitors to browse and shop for beautiful gifts and souvenirs.
An idyllic little Christmas setting right on the water: the Fleetinsel Christmas Market is situated on a canal island in the hinterlands of the busy city centre and is a popular spot for a relaxed after-work get-together surrounded by water.
HafenCity Christmas Market outside the Old Port Authority on Überseeboulevard is filled with lovely artisan stalls and new for this year will be the ‘winter golf’ ice track.
Hamburg celebrates the run-up to Christmas with not just the traditional, but also the more adventurous markets.
During the Yuletide season, the Spielbudenplatz is transformed into a very different Christmas market. Between live music and Christmas angels, the Santa Pauli market celebrates the festival of love. Santa Pauli is an incredibly colourful experience with an adults-only fir forest, and the Santa Pauli strip tent.
This year’s Winter Pride – Hamburg’s LGBTQ+ Christmas market – once again opens its pink gates, attracting locals and guests alike with its unique atmosphere in the quirky district of St Georg. You won’t hear Christmas carols here – instead you can look forward to live DJs on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 pm.
During the Christmas period, the whole of Hamburg between the Elbe and the Alster lake is lit with colorful lights, filled with the aroma of mulled wine and ginger cookies, music and markets fill the streets. Shopping in the centre of Hamburg is a real pleasure during Christmas as small boutiques, shops and shopping centres are all decorated for the Christmas atmosphere. There is also a parade every Saturday of December.
Children will also enjoy Hamburg on the fairy-tale ships especially designed for them. Here children can learn to bake and decorate Christmas cookies or enjoy drawing, reading fairy tale books or playing games. On the theater ship different performances are organized for children every day. What is Christmas without Santa Clause? During Christmas you’ll see him around the Town Hall Square on his sleigh, accompanied by elves and deers.
During the festive season there are many events and exhibitions on display in Hamburg’s renowned museums. Here are our top five events for this year’s Yuletide season:
The 50th anniversary season of world-famous ballet director John Neumeier is the perfect occasion to experience his production of the fairy-tale ballet The Nutcracker at the HAMBURG BALLET of the Hamburg State Opera – a classic Christmas piece that will be performed just before to just after Christmas.
The Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most popular classical works to celebrate the festive season. In the run-up to Christmas, the oratorio will be performed alongside many other concerts in Hamburg’s magnificent baroque St Michaelis Church.
The Hamburg Kunstmeile, the association of art institutions in Hamburg’s city centre, will have three new large-scale exhibitions: at the Deichtorhallen, In the Heart of Another Country presents contemporary art from the Middle East, which is being shown in cooperation with the Sharjah Art Foundation. The Bucerius Kunstforum puts a spotlight on Roman antiquity with its exhibition New Images In the Age of Augustus: Power and Media in Ancient Rome. The new exhibition is currently the largest one dedicated to the Augustan age.
The third new exhibition, Breathing, explores the many different facets of the act of breathing and its representations – from the Old Masters to present-day works. More than 100 exhibits engage in exciting dialogues, some of which transcend epochs. The result is an unconventional exploration of an existential theme. Whilst there take the opportunity to admire the main works of the famous North German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich as part of the permanent exhibition – before next year’s special exhibition on his 250th anniversary attracts masses of art lovers.
For more information on Hamburg’s Christmas markets as well as many other attractions and Christmas deals, and advice on travelling to Hamburg, visit https://www.hamburg-travel.com/christmas.
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