Lüneburg’s Christmas Market Is a Distinct Fairy Tale Setting
The Brothers Grimm’s influence is what makes it different
For those visiting Hamburg or Lower Saxony, for that matter, it can serve as a perfect day trip option. It doesn’t require more than four hours to cover, and that includes time spent at a cafe or restaurant.
The Hanseatic city of Lüneburg, situated 31 miles (about 50 kilometres) south east to Germany’s second largest city, is without a doubt one of the prettiest towns in the northern part of the country.
Its history dates back to more than a thousand years, perhaps the most significant part being the fact that it survived the Second World War unscathed. As such, it has largely been able to retain its medieval character.
While a perennial solitude permeates the city’s surroundings for most parts of the year, it is in the buildup to Christmas that things look a lot different.
From the second half of November, each year, till Christmas, Lüneburg holds a distinctly beautiful Christmas market.
What’s so special about the Christmas market in Lüneburg? You may wonder…
Almost every town and city across Europe has its own Christmas market, and each one of them has the hustle and bustle that can be expected in such makeshift settings. In fact, the area around the city center of Lüneburg has a similar Christmas market as well.
However, what makes Lüneburg different is the second alternative it offers. This particular Christmas market, located in the pedestrian-only street in the Altstadt (Old City) — largely between the Auf dem Meere and Johann-Sebastien-Bach-Platz with the Sankt-Michaelis-Kirche (St Michael’s Church) serving as an imposing background, has a distinct theme.
It will be tough to find people who haven’t grown up reading, watching or listening to Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales. Hänsel und Gretel, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White aren’t just part of our childhood memories but their many Hollywood incarnations keep ensuring that we get to see an updated version time and again, with a fresh batch of actors.
It is Grimms’ fairy tales that transform this Christmas Market in Lüneburg’s pedestrianised zone into a tiny fairy-tale kingdom. The market has multiple entrance gates, some with a board that says,
Ihr kommt in eine andere welt (You come to another world).
Visitors get to see these characters in costumes, and also the lives they lived. Locals, dressed up as fairy tale characters, not only offer the kids a complimentary candy but are also happy to pose in front of the ever inquisitive visitors’ camera.
The wooden huts are decorated according to the fairy tales. The scent of roasted chestnuts fills the air, elevating your mood considerably. There are shops that showcase various handmade crafts, and others that display trinkets and other accessories that tempt you with their simplicity. Traditional medicine is available as well, and in case you are interested, you will also find card readers and fortune tellers.
Then there are the expected culinary delights. While there are multiple shops selling sweetened candies and nuts, gebrannte mandeln (roasted almonds), Hamburger Speck and marshmallows, visitors can also savor the quintessentially German bratwurst (sausage) fresh off the grill, as well as fresh pfannkuchen (pancake) and schmalzkuchen (lard cake).
Besides, before tasting it themselves, the visitors also get to see Glühwein (mulled wine) getting made on the spot.
Ask for a mug, and even without mixing it with either amaretto or rum — as is usually the case, there is nothing that makes you feel better on a cold wintry evening. There are alternatives on offer as well, like the wurzwein (sausage wine) or the regular fruchtpunsch (fruit punch).
Lüneburg is the perfect place to visit during the period around Christmas. It sets you up perfectly for the holiday season.