Germany's 10 best Christmas markets

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Nuremberg

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt is a must for anyone coming to Germany for the Christmas markets. Dating back to at least 1628, it embodies everything we have come to associate with German Christmas markets. Its unique selling point is the Christmas angel, played by a young Nuremberg woman, who makes a speech to ceremonially open the market every year.

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Dresden

The Striezelmarkt looks back on a tradition centuries old. It was first held in 1434 as a one-day market ahead of the holidays. The word Striezelmarkt comes from Strüzel, - a type of light, airy fruitcake sold at the market, now famous as Stollen or Christstollen.

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Bautzen

It may be small, but the Wenzelsmarkt in Bautzen is rather special. It was founded 1384, when King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia decreed a pre-Christmas meat market.

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Cologne

The Christmas market next to Cologne Cathedral is one of the biggest in Germany. It attracts some 4 million visitors every year. Round about the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, more than 160 festively designed wooden pavilions offer an vast selection of sweets and local delicacies as well as mulled wine in decorative Christmas mugs.

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Hamburg

At this time of the year, the Hamburg district of Sankt Pauli shows both its traditional and its playful sides. All around the notorious Reeperbahn entertainment district, is Hamburg's adults-only Christmas market. At the "Santa Pauli" Christmas market you can enjoy delicious mulled wine and buy jewelry, souvenirs and other typical St. Pauli gifts - such as dildos, sex-toys and more.

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Lübeck

The market in this Hanseatic city is probably the best known in northern Germany. It was first mentioned in 1648. Marzipan lovers can have a field day at the Lübeck Christmas market. Opposite the town hall (pictured) is the Cafe Niederegger - the famous producer of marzipan, which some say was invented in Lübeck.

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Munich

Mulled wine, organic sausages and, of course, lots of culture - that's what Munich's Tollwood Winter Festival on the Theresienwiese has to offer. The four week event is billed as a forum for ecology and environmental awareness. The products and toys bought here are all fair-trade certified.

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Chiemsee Lake

This Christmas Market has a truly remarkable and romantic setting surrounded by the crystal clear Lake Chiemsee at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. The market on the Island of Frauenchiemsee commands a view of Herrenchiemsee Island, and its famous Herrenchiemsee Castle, built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria - the swan king who also initiated construction of Neuschwanstein Castle.

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Aachen

The Christmas market in the shadow of Aachen cathedral is comparatively young, only dating back to the 1970s. As Aachen lies near the Belgian and Dutch borders, the market has an international feel with many visitors from the Benelux. An absolute must to try and buy at this market are the local Printen pastries similar to gingerbread.

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Annaberg-Buchholz

This award-winning Christmas market in the Ore Mountains is rather special. It boasts an enormous Christmas tree as well as a Christmas pyramid, with story figures of Christmas, the town and the local mining industry. From over 80 lovingly decorated booths you can buy genuine traditional Ore Mountain woodworking, incense cones and Annaberg folded stars.

Whatever your preference might be - traditional or quirky, big or small - Christmas markets and events in Germany cater to all tastes, from traditionally festive to eccentric. Here are our favorites.