Places , Places

The best Christmas markets close to our Vapiano restaurants

We’ve been out and about test-driving the Christmas experience for you, and today we would like to present our favourite Christmas markets within a stone’s throw of a Vapiano restaurant! Here are the highlights.

Meandering along, browsing local crafts, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a heady mulled wine or a steaming mug of punch is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. Throughout December, the air is heavy with the scent of roasted almonds, boiled sweets, freshly baked waffles and hot winter beverages. Whether with friends, family or work colleagues, Christmas markets are everyone’s favourite meeting place. But what links Christmas markets to Vapiano? It’s the location! In a number of cities our restaurants are just minutes away, making them the ideal place to warm up after a trip to the Christmas market. Rest weary legs, put down those shopping bags and savour a freshly prepared dish. Over the last week, we’ve been scouting out the best of the Christmas markets and here are our own festive highlights.

Dortmund – the giant Christmas tree
Dortmund’s Christmas market boasts the world’s tallest Christmas tree, towering over the entire market at a whopping 45 metres! Around 300 stalls also make the market one of Germany’s largest. This year, stalls will stay open right up to 30th December, meaning you can still enjoy a visit after Christmas too. Every day there’s entertainment on the “Alter Markt” stage, including concerts, children’s theatre, magic shows, church services and more. And when you’ve seen it all, stroll over to one of our two Vapiano restaurants near the pedestrian zone where you can warm up and recharge your batteries with a freshly prepared dish.

Essen – the giant ferris wheel
This year marks the 43rd birthday of Essen’s international Christmas market. It stretches across the entire city centre with 250 stalls resembling a miniature village of traditional German timber houses. As the name suggest, Essen’s market attracts exhibitors from twenty different countries, as well as from all over Germany. They all come to showcase their own regional specialities, from unique gift ideas to handicrafts or culinary fare. The feeling of strolling through an old German village adds to the fun. At 56 metres, the world’s highest ferris wheel is even taller than Dortmund’s Christmas tree! The whole market is bathed in the soft glow of Christmas lighting with an enormous web of fairy lights over Kennedyplatz creating a magical atmosphere. Essen’s Vapiano restaurant is right at the edge of the pedestrian zone and is the best place to take a breather from all the action.

Hamburg Gänsemarkt & Jungfernstieg – magical and authentic
Hamburg is home to two of the most beautiful Christmas markets close to Vapiano. The white “Winterzauber” Christmas market at Jungfernstieg means “Magical Winter” and definitely has an enchanted feel to it. Admire the white pagoda tents, festive music, twinkling gold and silver lights, mouth-watering smells lingering in the air and the Binnenalster lake gently lapping at the shore. Stroll through the market and take in the scenic view of small boats bobbing on the lake. It’s open right up to New Year’s Eve.

Just a five minute walk from Jungfernstieg and directly opposite our new Vapiano restaurant at Gänsemarkt is the second of Hamburg’s markets. Some thirty stalls offer all kinds of culinary treats and beverages. It’s a smaller, more cosy Christmas market that’s popular with colleagues from nearby offices after work. Every Sunday between 3 – 5 pm Father Christmas pops by to surprise the children.

Bonn – Christmas spirit everywhere you turn
Bonn’s Christmas market sprawls across countless streets and squares at the heart of the city, bordered by the famous Bonn Minster church, illuminated buildings and romantic Christmas lighting. Some 180 stalls mean there’s lots to peruse, including local crafts, food and drink. Every year, a covered open-air ice rink known as “Bonn on Ice” is constructed at the edge of the pedestrian precinct, where visitors can enjoy skating up to mid-January. The most popular after work location is the traditional “Mulled Wine Pyramid” at Friedensplatz – a Christmas stall with a huge hard-to-miss pyramid on its roof. Children will love the “Aktionshaus” where they can take part in a range of festive activities throughout December. Warm up afterwards with some yummy kids pasta at Vapiano. The restaurant is right behind the Bonn Minster so tired legs won’t have far to walk.

Dresden – the world’s largest Christmas pyramid
Dresden’s “Strietzelmarkt” is one of Germany’s most celebrated Christmas markets and also scores high on our list. This year marks its 581st birthday making it Germany’s oldest too. The name comes from a traditional leavened dough plait called a “Strietzel”. Nowadays Dresden’s traditional Christmas Stollen is also hugely popular, but there are countless other local specialities from Saxony on offer at the Strietzelmarkt. Don’t miss the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid either – it’s even in the Guinness Book of Records! When it comes to festive fun, children are spoilt for choice with activities ranging from Christmas baking to visiting a very special fairytale cottage. They can also phone Santa and tell his elves what they’re hoping to find in their stockings this year!  Finish the day with a delicious plate of pasta at Vapiano. The restaurant is a ten minute walk away. Simply head down the main shopping street towards the station.