One of the largest and most significant Christmas markets in Germany can be found in the heart of the country, in Frankfurt am Main. It is set up in front of the historical scenery of Römerberg hill and the historic St. Paul's Church, inviting you to amble along the market and enjoy the magical Christmas atmosphere.
Around the Christmas tree, you find more than 200 splendidly decorated market stands and pavilions, offering any kind of delights and sweets or Christmas presents à la “uff Frankforderisch”. Stroll around and discover the beauty of one of Germany's oldest Christmas markets and enjoy a fine mug of hot apple cider, the national beverage in Frankfurt in its winter variation. It will warm you up and make you smell the scent of roasted almonds while you enjoy yourself being surrounded by the wonderful Christmas bustle.
Highlights around Frankfurt's Christmas market
The major highlights of Frankfurt's Christmas Market are, without a doubt, Santa Claus visiting, the so-called “Turmblasen” (trumpet fanfares from the balcony of St. Nicholas Church), the chime of the church, Advent concerts celebrating an international Christmas, Christmas carol singing, the “Frankfurter Stadtgeläut” (Frankfurt bell ringing), steam train trips with the historical train, and the Christmas market of all Frankfurt artists in the St. Paul's Church and the “Römerhallen”, Roman halls.
Frankfurt Christmas tour
If you wish, you may participate in a guided tour around the Christmas market during the weekends. The guides will tell you fascinating stories about the Christmas market and Frankfurt. While walking around, you may grab something delicious to eat at one of the food stands.
The main highlight of the tour is visiting the Attic gallery of the old St. Nicholas Church. Coming up here is worth it as you will be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view on the Christmas market and the skyline of Frankfurt. The tour is then rounded off by a ride on the horse carousel.
Frankfurt's Christmas market follows a long tradition. Based on written records, it is known that the first Christmas market was held in 1393. These were accompanied by clerical mystery games on Römerberg hill, which go back to as far as 941 AD, the year King Otto I “the Great” became reconciled with his brother Henry at the Christmas midnight mass.
Another milestone in the history of Frankfurt's Christmas market was set in 1498, when Landgrave William of Hesse and the prince-elector of Palatinate's daughter celebrated their wedding at Christmas. It is reported that the prince-elector was escorted by his entourage, guests and 1,000 horses on his journey to Frankfurt.
It was only in the 19th century that Frankfurt's Christmas market got its essential landmark, the Christmas tree. In this particular period, the Christmas tree became more popular and was eventually established as Christmas decoration in private households as well as in the public sphere. In the pre-Christmas time, the privileged traders from Sachsenhausen were offering their goods in the “Römerhalle”. In the course of time, disposition of goods was shifted outside the Roman hall.
In the 19th century, the Christmas market was exclusively accessible to inhabitants of Frankfurt. People from outside Frankfurt were not granted access. This may be the reason why Frankfurt's “Christkindchesmarkt” is still characteristically Frankfurt-esque. Apart from high quality hand-made products, sweets, toys and Christmas presents were sold here. Up to the 70s and 80s of the 19th century, it was common sense for Frankfurt parents to solemnly buy Christmas presents for their children only on Frankfurt's Christmas market at this time.
“Brenten”, “Bethmännchen” and “Quetschmännchen” are typical pastries from Frankfurt following a long tradition. The marzipan-based pastry was produced in large quantities in bourgeois houses. They were meant to be sent by lovers to their beloved. If the addressees kept the edible presents, there was hope. In case the presents were sent back, the love remained unrequited. Where the pastries' names are derived from has still not been clarified. Legend has it that Napoleon is reported to have said “Give me some more of that little Bethmännchen!” when at the banker Bethmann's home in Frankfurt.
How to get there
The Christmas market is set up at Römerberg hill, Paulsplatz square and the Mainkai quay, all located in the heart of Frankfurt.
You may take the underground, tram or the S-Bahn trains to travel around Frankfurt. The next stops are “Römer”, “Paulsplatz” and “Hauptwache”.
Take the federal highways B8, B3 and B43 to get to Frankfurt's Christmas market. Once in Frankfurt, use the parking guidance system taking you to one of the covered and underground car parks.