From nativity scenes with real animals to live entertainment, medieval villages or arts and crafts workshops for kids, every Christmas market in Hessen has its own individual highlights -and is very special festive experience indeed.
Take a turn round an ice rink, greet Saint Nicholas or Father Christmas, or hunt for handmade Christmas gifts or festive souvenirs such as local ceramics, wooden toys or beeswax products. Try delicious regional specialties from crispy potato pancakes and sausages grilled on a swinging grill to gingerbread, baked apples and steamed dumplings filled with plums. And don't forget to warm up with a souvenir mug of hot spiced mulled wine or fruit juice to really help you soak up the atmosphere!
In larger cities, several Christmas markets in a variety of locations mean lots of choice for a weekend visit. Travel to Hessen's smaller towns and villages and you can join traditional festivities in a more intimate local atmosphere. From castles to wineries, monasteries to riverboats, there are plenty of seasonal markets in unique locations, too. Here are 15 of our favourite Christmas markets in Hessen to get you in the mood for some festive fun...
Darmstadt's Christmas market, which sprawls across four of the city's central squares, looks traditionally German but has an unmistakably international flavour. With stands from the city's numerous European twin towns, you'll find Latvian handicrafts alongside classic German Christmas gifts, and you can soak up your mulled wine with international delicacies including Hungarian Lángos and Swiss cheese.
Further information about Darmstadt Christmas Market can be found on the Darmstadt Tourism website.
In Frankfurt, you can enjoy local specialties such as mulled cider (Heißer Apfelwein) and bite-sized marzipan treats (Bethmännchen) whilst admiring the towering Christmas tree and medieval buildings at the Römerberg square. Other festivities around the city include a Christmas market on the banks of the River Main, a Pink Christmas Market at Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz and a small, atmospheric market in the city forest.
Further information about Frankfurt's Christmas markets can be found on the Frankfurt Tourism website.
The beautiful Baroque city of Fulda is particularly picturesque during Advent, when it's illuminated with twinkling lights. In addition to the traditional Christmas market in the city's historic square you'll find a gourmet market, a medieval village, a Christmas Land for children and even a festive winter forest. Keep your eyes peeled as you wander the cobbled streets and you might spot a Christmas angel or even meet Saint Nicholas himself.
Find out more about Fulda Christmas Market on the Germany Tourism website.
In Kassel, the northern Hessen city famous as the long-time home of the Brothers Grimm, the seasonal festivities focus each year on a different fairytale character. Enjoy a mug of mulled wine or whizz down a fairytale ice slide before warming up with a comforting bowl of potato soup in the cosy Grimm-themed restaurant hut.
Further details about Kassel Christmas Market can be found on the Germany Tourism website.
In Hessen's state capital ,Wiesbaden, on the cobbled Schlossplatz framed by historic buildings that include a red Neo-Gothic church and the Neo-Renaissance City Hall, you'll find the Shooting Stars Christmas Market. Comprising almost 130 stands selling handicrafts, hot food and excellent local mulled wine - Winzerglühwein, or "vintner's mulled wine") from the Rheingau wine region - the market is decorated with hundreds of lights, countless shooting stars and several enormous twinkling lilies. In addition, you'll find a Ferris wheel and a winter tavern at Mauritiusplatz and an ice rink and a cluster of wooden huts by the Hessian State Theatre.
Further information about Wiesbaden's Shooting Star Christmas Market is available on the Wiesbaden Tourism website.
As the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, Hanau's Advent festivities come with an extra sprinkling of fairytale magic. Surrounding the city's monument to the brothers, Hanau's main Christmas market features a nostalgic mini Ferris wheel, a fairytale train and a historic carousel. The charming Artists' Christmas Market nearby provides a lovely opportunity to buy locally-made handicrafts.
Further information about Hanau Christmas Market can be found on the German Fairy Tale Road website.
In the charming student city of Marburg, its steep cobbled streets and staircases overlooked by the imposing Marburg Castle, the Christmas markets take place in two locations. Warm yourself up with a hot drink on the main square, surrounded by quaint timber-framed houses and the medieval town hall, or browse winter accessories and local handicrafts at stalls around the Gothic St Elisabeth's Church.
Further information about Marburg Christmas Market can be found on the German Fairy Tale Road website.
The very popular Christmas market in Michelstadt is decorated not just with fir branches and fairy lights, but gorgeous life-sized wooden figures made at a local woodwork school. Set in a square surrounded by medieval timber-framed houses that include Michelstadt's world-famous stilted Town Hall, built in 1484, it's an idyllic spot to stop for some hot food and mulled wine.
Less than 3km away, the neighbouring town of Erbach celebrates Advent with an atmospheric market in its historic marketplace, set against the backdrop of timber-framed houses and the Baroque Erbach Palace. Here, you'll find Father Christmas plus a living nativity complete with donkeys and sheep, traditional locally-made handicrafts, and one of Germany's largest Christmas trees.
More information about Michelstadt Christmas Market can be found on the Germany Tourism website .
The half-timbered houses of Seligenstadt are even more enchanting during Advent, when they are illuminated with thousands of lights. Visit the Christmas market in the town's romantic square, enjoy a spot of festive shopping at the arts and crafts fair in the courtyard of the former Benedictine Abbey, or venture into the festive city forest.
Learn more about Seligenstadt Advent Market on the Germany Tourism website.
Berlepsch Castle in Witzenhausen, Nordhessen, makes for a particularly atmospheric location for medieval-style Christmas festivities. Enjoy candlelight, hot spiced wine, medieval music, jugglery and homemade specialties at this 650-year-old castle - where you might well also bump into St. Nicholas or Father Christmas. Second weekend of Advent only.
More information about Schloss Berlepsch can be found on the German Fairy Tale Road website.
The Christmas market in the climatic health resort of Braunfels sprawls across both the town's romantic square and its gorgeous spa gardens, all against the backdrop of the fairytale Braunfels Castle. Wander cobbled streets admiring the nativity scene complete with live animals before enjoying a piece of gingerbread (Lebkuchen) with your mug of mulled cider or wine. Second Advent weekend only.
Further information about Braunfels Christmas Market can be found on the Braunfels Tourism website.
The Hessenpark Open Air Museum Christmas Market in Neu-Ansprach, 25km northwest of Frankfurt am Main, offers fun for all the family. There are numerous arts and crafts stalls, various hands-on activities for all the family and an array of delicious culinary offerings. Twinkling lights and festive music make for the perfect backdrop for a visit from Father Christmas, who might well come by to hand around small gifts to the children. First weekend of Advent only.
Further details about the Hessenpark Open Air Museum Advent Market can be found on the Hessenpark Open Air Museum website.
Mulled wine connoisseurs won't want to miss out on mulled wine made on site at a winery in the Rheingau, one of Germany's most distinguished wine regions. At the historic Johannisberg Castle and Winery, which has been producing wine for over 900 years, you can choose from a cold glass of Riesling or a mug of hot mulled wine to enjoy alongside delicious homemade culinary specialties. Browse for exclusive wine-related gifts whilst the kids take part in an adventure tour with a Christmas story in the historic winery cellar. First Advent weekend only.
More information about Johannisberg Castle and Winery can be found on the Johannisberg Castle and Winery website.
Given that the riverside town of Rüdesheim has long drawn tourists for its narrow cobbled streets and quaint half-timbered buildings, its Christmas market is perhaps a little more modern than you'd expect. At the town's Christmas Market of Nations, more than 20 countries from six continents offer up home-cooked specialties and traditional handmade goods. Highlights for kids include the Christmas Express train and a petting zoo.
More information about Rüdesheim's Christmas Market of Nations can be found on the Christmas Market of Nations website.
It isn't just the idyllic backdrop of half-timbered houses decorated with lights that make the Christmas market in the romantic castle town of Schlitz worth the slightly challenging journey to reach it. You'll also find the world's largest candle here - one of the castle's defense towers covered in red linen and topped with hundreds of lights - which you can admire from the ground or take a lift to the top of for gorgeous views of the market below. Weekends only.
Find out more about the Schlitz Christmas Market at the official Germany Tourism website.