The smell of Bratwurst fills the air, with the gentle hum of excited visitors. Gluwein (the local mulled wine) flows freely as everyone warms up cold hands enjoying the starry strewn sky above. This is Christmas Markets in Esslingen.
Where is Esslingen?
Esslingen am Neckar is a small medieval town close by to Stuttgart, Germany. In 2017, I visited Esslingen for a company workshop and had a chance to attend a traditional German Christmas Market. However, this isn’t your typical German Christmas Market. With more than 200 booths, the Esslingen Market is one of the largest in the region and has a big medieval influence. Not surprising as there is so much history given that there has been a settlement at Esslingen since about 1000BC.
For almost four weeks at the Medieval Market, merchants in historical garments offer their goods for sale just as they did hundreds of years ago. Craftsmen like pewterers, felt-makers, tinder-makers, blacksmiths, rope-makers, basket-makers, broom-makers or glass-blowers demonstrate their craftsmanship. Furthermore, in the streets and on various stages artists fascinate their audience with juggling, music and nonsense. Everything is credible, without the feeling of being too commercial and the food and drink are also amazing (recommend the traditional mulled wine, or a hot rum chocolate with a hint of chilli to warm you up!).
So take an interesting trip back in time. The Christmas market is unlike the ‘German Christmas Markets’ that appear in London weeks before Christmas, with a sense of history and authenticity.
Well worth a visit!