Christmas Markets in Germany: Hamelin
Every year, the Christmas Market in Hamelin is held in the streets surrounding Hochzeitshaus and the Market Church, with around 70 wonderfully festive stalls. In 2017, the market opens on 27 November and closes on 23 December. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 9pm Thursday and Friday, 10am to 10pm on Saturdays and 11am to 8pm on Sundays.
Festive Christmas Market around the Market Church in Hamelin
Hamelin is a picturesque town with an evocative history, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of the story of the Pied Piper by the Brothers Grimm. The town’s identity and marketing profile centres around this tale, and you will find numerous statues, monuments, ornamentation and, not least, events portraying the story of the fateful day of 26 June 1284 when 130 children from the town disappeared and were never found or heard of again.
Even the Christmas Market features the tale of the Pied Piper, with rats prominent in a number of the handicrafts on sale. During my visit to the town for the Christmas Market, I was also taken on a guided tour of Hamelin by the Pied Piper himself!
Sightseeing in Hamelin with the Pied Piper himself!
The Christmas Market is very child-friendly with an ice-rink for children, a huge advent calendar, a tiny house where children can bake, a Christmas pyramid more than 10 metres tall and a vast Snow Globe in addition to a charming merry-go-round. I visited the Christmas Market in the daytime, but was told that it “snows” inside the Snow Globe in the evenings, created by lighting – which I’m sure is a wonderfully festive sight.
The Snow Globe stands above one of the statues of the Pied Piper, which is also a fountain in the summer. If you take a close look at the ornamentation around the fountain, you will see rats, a lot of rats. They were not so easy to see with the statue covered by a Snow Globe. Keep your eyes peeled when walking around the town centre and you will see that many of the paving stones have been replaced with stones featuring rats.
The famous Hochzeitshaus (wedding house) is transformed into a gigantic advent calendar with each window representing a day of advent. Three times a day, at 1.05pm, 3.35pm and 5.35pm, a clockwork chime starts and a window opens to show the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin with rotating figures. The clockwork chime show takes place all year round, not just during the Christmas Market.
The Christmas pyramid in Hamelin is more than 10 metres tall and is a beautiful ornament in the Christmas Market.
Many of the stalls are elaborately decorated, with red and green colours, elves, reindeer and packages and thousands of fairy lights and illuminated figures that come alive when dusk falls.
The aroma of candied almonds is one of my favourites at German Christmas Markets. When this blends with the aroma of fried Bratwurst, Glühwein and other delicacies, you can’t help but feel festive.
The classic decorated gingerbread hearts and other figures are very popular at the German Christmas Markets, and Hamelin is no exception. Not only are they very decorative, they taste amazing and are a great gift. All kinds of different messages have been piped onto the hearts, so you are guaranteed to find something suitable.
As dusk falls over the Christmas Market, the crowds gather to browse, chat and have fun with friends and family. And this is the main impression I’m left with after having visited four different Christmas Markets – it doesn’t matter what you buy, drink or eat, Christmas Markets are all about meeting up with old and new friends, getting into the Christmas spirit and just being together. Christmas Markets are all about joy and excited anticipation – a true embodiment of the Christmas spirit.
I stopped off at this stall to taste their Glühwein and it was just perfect! One great souvenir from many German Christmas Markets is the cup you get your Glühwein in. You can exchange your cup for a clean one and take it home with you. Most stalls charge a deposit of one or two Euros that you get back if you choose to return your cup. If you don’t hand it back, you have in principle purchased the cup as a great souvenir. Most Christmas Markets have cups featuring the name and motif of the town and sometimes also the year.
A sunny November day is the perfect occasion for lunch outdoors. The Christmas Market is filled with stalls selling delicious food, like this one selling freshly made pizza.
The pedestrian street in the centre of Hamelin is wonderfully decorated for Christmas and lined with stalls. Don’t forget that this area also has a great range of shops, perfect for some Christmas shopping.
Hamelin also has other charming shopping streets outside of the Christmas Market, most featuring the town’s picturesque timber-framed houses.
To visit Hamelin, we recommend a flight to Hanover then continue by train or car. We can also recommend a round-trip to all or some of the nine historical towns in the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), including Hamelin.