Dresden Christmas market guide: historic Striezelmarkt plus seven more

by Aug 14, 2023Germany

Best German Christmas Markets Dresden

Dresden Germany prides itself on its Christmas markets, holiday cheer, bright lights, and festive spirit. And well it should as the Striezelmarkt is thought to be the oldest Christmas market in the world. These are eight of what we think are the best Dresden Christmas markets to help you plan your European Christmas market visits.

Dresden Germany fully embraces its Christmas holiday spirit with so many amazing Christmas markets to experience. From the oldest market called the Striezelmarkt to many other Christmas markets scattered around town, you can’t miss with a holiday visit to Dresden. Here is our guide to help you navigate the Dresden Christmas markets when planning a visit to Germany during the Christmas holiday season.

Certainly, you can just float around Dresden visiting various markets, but since your days are likely numbered, we decided to help you focus by picking what we think are the best Christmas market experiences in Dresden. To do that, we tasted gingerbread delicacies (Lebkuchen), tried different German Christmas cake varieties (Stollen), nibbled on sausage and kale, sipped a lot of mulled wine (Glühwein), climbed numerous church towers for views, and stayed out late enjoying all the festive lights and merrymaking. We know, tough job but somebody has to do it to ensure your Christmas market travels in Germany are perfect.

Dresden Christmas Market Gluhwein

Now, about that hot mulled wine – these days there are a lot of concoctions to choose from so if you don’t speak German, here is our guide to German Christmas market drinks so you know what to order and how to answer questions you will be asked at the counter at any of Dresden’s Christmas markets. No matter how many varieties of mulled wine we’ve tried, and we’ve tried plenty, our favorite go-to remains that standard mulled red wine, a.k.a., “Glühwein.” I love it so much, I want to also share my own very German recipe for mulled wine to get you in the spirit as you plan your Christmas market tour in Germany!

Even if you are only in Dresden for a weekend or a few days, don’t forget there is a lot to do other than wander Christmas markets, so between all that holiday frivolity, do experience everything else in the great, historic, sometimes overlooked city of Dresden.

Christmas markets galore in Dresden

Since in December it gets dark pretty early in eastern Germany, you will have plenty of time to enjoy lights and stroll through the markets. LET’s take a look at the different ones available in central Dresden:

Dresden Christmas Market Striezelmarkt

Striezelmarkt

Of course, you need to start here. This is the granddaddy of Christmas markets, touted as the oldest in the world dating back to the 1400s. It takes place today on the so-called “Altmarkt” or Old Market Square, although it has moved locations a couple of times. Today, in the Christmas city of Dresden, city representatives say that 2.5 million people visit this market each year. That’s a lot of good cheer. The Striezelmarkt (“Stree-tsel-mark-t”) prides itself on its rotating wooden Christmas pyramid, now in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest in the world at 48 feet.

There is also a carousel, a few other kids’ rides, like a small train, and a whole lot of shopping to be done. By the way, Striezel used to be what the famous fruit-and-nut-studded Stollen cake was called.

HITT Tip: You could spend your entire visit in Dresden at the Striezelmarkt because it really encompasses about everything you might want. But it is big and can be jammed with people. Get there earlier or on a weekday and do climb the tower of the Holy Cross Church (Kreuzkirche) for stupendous glittering views.

Dresden Christmas Market Frauenkirche

Christmas market at Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche)

A smaller cozy affair surrounds this beloved church in Dresden and extends down the Münzgasse street. There, you’ll find traditional items in the booths, from pottery to lace. A 26-foot pyramid at this Dresden Christmas market can be climbed to get some views of the surrounding market.

HITT Tip: A smaller more traditional affair with fewer offerings but may be just what you want on a quiet evening.

Dresden Christmas Market Neumarkt

Advent at the Neumarkt

This and the market at Frauenkirche do seem to blend together. The Neumarkt Christmas market is across the square from the Frauenkirche with a sign that makes clear where you are. You won’t find kid’s rides or Santa visits, although sometimes street performers take over the plaza there on “New Market Square.”

HITT Tip: Don’t forget to head into the QF indoor shopping area on Neumarkt to taste a few German Christmas cakes at a special Stollen Market. Inside, you can also the drop into the Visit Dresden travel office to get information, brochures, maps and buy a few Dresden Christmas market souvenirs, too.

Stallhof Medievel Christmas Market Dresden

Stallhof medieval Christmas market

This one is a bit hidden on a side street, which is why there seem to be a lot of locals there. Just follow Augustus Street toward the river from Neumarkt. Stallhof means “stable yard,” and it did used to be a stable and a place for joisting events and “knightly games.” Today, it hosts cultural events with a backdrop of murals and arches and is really quite charming. The Stallhof market is the only Christmas market in Dresden with a theme other than, well, Christmas. Vendors are in costume, and there is themed entertainment and beautiful lighting, too. There is an entry fee on weekends of Euro 5 at the time of this writing.

HITT Tip: We loved this market because it seemed a little less packed. BUT when we went back on a Friday night it was in fact shoulder-to-shoulder since the courtyard is surrounded by walls and thus limits the spread of visitors at this Christmas market. Highly recommended, but go earlier or not on a weekend, when you can also avoid the entrance fee.

Alpine Hut Christmas Market Dresden Curling

Alpine Hut Magic

Not the largest and definitely not where you go to shop, the Alpine Hut Magic Christmas market is on Postplatz (Post Office Square) smack on a very busy central intersection in town. This is where it seems the locals stop in after work to hang out with friends, have a few drinks, a simple German snack like sausage, and pretend you are in the Alps at a ski hut. You can even take part in curling on several lanes – a very popular activity.

HITT Tip: When you are done with packed markets and want to just hang out, perhaps watching the enthusiastic curling games, this is where to go. 

Augustusmarkt Light Trails Dresden Christmas Markets

Augustusmarket

Across the Augustus Bridge on the side of town known as Neustadt (New City), the Augustus Christmas market sets up shop, attracting an international crowd and celebrating the area’s international influence. Look for a broader variety of drinks and snacks on the sprawling market, a slightly less traditional flavor, and a larger midway area.

HITT Tip: Enjoy the short walk across the Augustus Bridge over the Elbe River, catching all the lights from the Ferris wheel and the music from entertainers on the wood pyramid.

Elbhangfest Christmas Market Dresden

Elbhangfest

A short bus or tram ride outside of town to the “Blue Wonder” Bridge in the area called Loschwitz takes you to the rather quaint Dresden Christmas market called Elbhangfest. “Elb” refers to the Elbe river and “hang” refers to the slope or banks along or down to a river. Which describes this market perfectly. Its booths kind of trail along a narrow area from the main street near the area’s two funiculars, leading you down narrow, winding paths to the river and bridge. This is definitely a Christmas market frequented by locals. The mulled wine and snacks are also less expensive, and there is a focus on local, natural, and organic goods.

HITT Tip: Combine a visit to this market with riding the two funiculars there and getting a look at the historic and beloved Blue Wonder bridge.

Schloss Wackerbarth Winery Christmas Dresden

Christmas Cheer at Schloss Wackerbarth winery

This is not a Christmas market, per se, but I have to mention it. This winery dates back about 850 years – and it claims to have the first-ever recipe for mulled wine…which it gladly now sells bottled (called “Weiss & Heiss” or “White and Hot” in English), and we found we quite enjoyed it. We even bought several bottles to have during the summer months, chilled, as is recommended. During the holiday season, Wackerbarth Castle winery (website only in German) lights up its trees and terraced vineyard slopes, selling hot drinks to enjoy as you saunter among the lights. Usually there are also musical offerings, curling, special meals and tours. Just a 40-minute tram ride from Dresden town center.

When it comes to Christmas markets in Dresden, the holiday cheer is never-ending. There are in fact Christmas markets other than these, for example one in a former palace with an ice-skating rink (called the “Romantic Christmas market” that is in the courtyard of the Taschenberg Palace hotel), shopping streets lined with twinkling lights and booths, and others in different neighborhoods. Dresden does indeed embrace its legacy as the historic home of Christmas holiday spirit.

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