Winter is coming and so are the Christmas markets. Frankfurt am Main hosts an extensive, nostalgic (it dates back to the 14th century) Christmas market running from the Hauptwache, down the Neue Krämer and into the heart of the old town. Glühwein on every corner, roasted chestnuts, kartoffelpuffer (aka potato cakes) and other local delicacies provide sustenance as you wander through the fair.
Many stalls proudly sell traditional, German crafted, wooden decorations from the Erzgebirge region. Directly outside St. Paul's a stall sells the grey and blue pottery associated with the city's apple wine taverns, and next door stands Wagner's Honey House. It's an original 300 year old timber-frame house erected especially for the Christmas market to sell all manner of honey based products.
At the heart of the old town, on Römerberg, stands the Christmas tree fulling the criteria that it must be at least as high as the roof of the town hall. Decorated with over 5000 lights it makes a spectacular centre piece. Below it is the nativity scene and nearby stands the beautifully restored carousel which delights both children and adults alike.
For a typical Frankfurt gift, seek out the baked marzipan Brenten and Bethmännchen. Stranger still are the Quetschemännchen, little figures made from dried fruits and nuts. Tradition has it that a suitor would give his sweetheart a Quetschemännchen to show his affection. If the young lady kept the gift then her heart was his but, if she sent it back he had not secured her love. Not to worry, a glass or two of Glühwein and friendly camaraderie would help him get over the rejection, especially if he headed to the Weinschirn, at the back of the Christmas market towards the cathedral, where many local Frankfurters congregate for the best glühwein in the city.
Just when you think you have exhausted the Christmas market and are heading home, steer course towards Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz and you'll stumble into yet more revelry. The square is decked with pink tables and benches and surrounded by a variety of food and drink stalls and is the perfect place to stop, eat and soak up (or further ignite) the evening's excesses. Here you will find the best Feuerzangenbowle. What is that you ask? Atop a huge cauldron of Glühwein hangs a rum soaked sugar loaf which is set alight and gently drips it's caramelised syrup into the wine below. Served with a slice of orange, it's glühwein with an extra punch!
PS: Each year Frankfurt issues a new Glühwein mug. You pay a deposit for the mug when you buy your Glühwein, so no minds if you simply keep the mug as a souvenir.
Still not ready to go home? Then head to the Weihnachtshütte at the Thurn & Taxis Palais which serves up until 11pm.
Keep an eye on my Facebook page over the coming weeks where I'll be offering insights to the best Christmas stalls and features during this year's Christmas Market.
Take a peek at this Video, by VisitFrankfurt, for more enchanting views of the Frankfurt Christmas Market.