CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Note: This article was published last year, but the information at the bottom has been updated for the 2013 Christmas market season! Enjoy!
I had the perfect image in my head: A pretty European city; small wooden huts selling their wares; warm mugs of Glühwein to warm hands and tummies; strains of Christmas songs; and maybe even a flake or two of snow coming down.
But like so many perfect ideas the reality was a little different. We were so eager to find our first Christmas market; we went to the first one on the comprehensive list. It turns out it was much more like a craft fair. Inside, tables instead of cabins. “No food allowed” signs. Nope, not like I anticipated.
Our second try was much closer. We went to Valkenburg and went to their version of a Christmas Market in caves. It was awesome and unique, but that meant that it didn’t quite fit picture in my head.
The third time, we found it! The Heidelberg Christmas Market is the real thing! Just like I pictured it!
Their market stalls are spread along five different squares on Hauptstraße (Main Street). From one end to the other is about two kilometers.
We found a great underground parking garage at the corner of Karlsplatz and Hauptstraße, just under the Karlsplatz square on the east end of the line up.
Each square features different booths and has a slightly different feel. I’ll take you from the east end to the west end. Karlsplatz square sits just under the town’s castle and its biggest attraction is an ice skating rink. There you can rent ice skates and perform your own Christmas show!
The next square is Kornmarkt. Here there is a train for children to ride and it’s near the train station leading up to the castle, if you’d like to make that part of your visit as well. Some information talked about a nativity scene and donkey petting area, but neither was there when we visited.
Marktplatz sits in the shadow of the Church of the Holy Ghost. Easily the biggest landmark is the giant Christmas pyramid, or Weihnachtspyramide. These are the rotating wooden decorations, powered by candles and fan blades. This one does not have any real fire, but it is three stories tall! The bottom layer is a Glühwein and other treats vendor.
After a bit longer stroll down the street, you will come to Universitätsplatz. This “L” shaped group of booths also has an antique merry-go-round. If you have to go (not around) there are also bathroom facilities available here for .50€. The Kathe Wohlfahrt store is located just beyond this square and although not part of the market, a huge draw for Christmas seeking tourists!
After a longer walk you will come to a small set of booths at the Anatomiegarten. Finally on the west end, is the Bismarckplatz. This set of stalls is located near the large bus and streetcar station as well as the large department store, Galeria Kaufhof. If you wanted to start from this end, that would be a good option too.
Between each square there are many interesting restaurants and stores on Hauptstraße. If you can’t find what you’d like food or gift wise on this street, you probably won’t find it in Germany! The vendors as well, have a huge variety of wares and food. Come hungry and with your Christmas list!
Yes, this Christmas market has everything: Eierpunsch, Glühwein, Feuerzangenbowle, Kinderpunsch, wurst in all forms, pommes in cones, not to mention all the gifts to be bought, and sights to see.
25th November – 22nd December 2012
Sunday – Friday: 1100- 2100;
Daily: 1000 - 2200
Closed on December 24
December 25/ 26 1200 - 2200 PM
December 31 1000 AM - 0100
GPS addresses for Karlsplatz (Eastern end): Karlsplatz 69117 Heidelberg
GPS address for Bismarckplatz (Western end): Bergheimer Straße 1, 69 Heidelberg
Heidelberg Palace Christmas
There is also a special market on the grounds of the Heidelberg Castle
5-17 December, 2013
Hours: 1200 – 2100 (Except December 5 & 11: 1700-2100