Rayka was born and raised in Northern Germany, in a small village on the border with Denmark. Growing up rather away from almost everything, she found her excitement in writing and visualizing life in places far away from home. Right after school, where she studied literature and anthropology, she started exploring the world.
Since 2000, Rayka has been living a nomad live, writing about traveling, plays and short stories, making art and theater in Europe, East Africa, South East Asia and North America.
She's a member of Label Gray NYC, the FREE(AK) SHOW and the founder of the Performancekollektiv for New Music and Text in the intercultural context DissOPERAlusion.
There is always something to look forward to in Germany, even when it’s getting really cold outside, for example – the beloved Christmas Markets! They usually start around the first Advent and run until Christmas. A few will even have their stalls open until the New Year’s Eve.
During this time, every historic city center is covered with numerous lights in all sorts of shapes, such as stars, hearts, and slides. Countless wooden open-air stalls offer their delicacies like bratwurst, creamy mushrooms, baked potatoes and “Stollen” – sweet bread with candied fruit. And, of course, some hot drinks which will keep you warm, like “Apfelwein” a hot apple wine, and the yummy “Glühwein,” which is actually a spicy hot mulled wine with an optional shot of brandy.
Normally, the Christmas Markets open daily around 5:00pm and close at around 11:00pm. Hence every local has a chance to come straight after work and have a good time with friends or colleagues drinking “Glühwein” for up to four weeks. Since it’s the number one place to be in during December – let’s review some of our unique Christmas Markets in Germany.
Strietzelmarkt in Dresden
The famous Christmas market in Dresden goes way back, to 1434. It’s the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Strietzelmarkt was called after Strietzel, which later turned into Stollen. It’s a kind of a fruitcake, which is not to be missed during the Advent season in Germany.
In the center of the market, framed by wonderful historic architecture, rises a 14-meter-high wooden pyramid. Kids can try out baking, arts, and crafts in the “children’s world” around the center of the market, while the grown-ups can enjoy mulled wine and gingerbread.
- Location: Altmarkt 23, Dresden
- Opening days: end of November – December 24th
- Hours of operation: daily 10:00am – 9:00pm
Christmas Market in Heidelberg
The city of Heidelberg is already romantic enough with all those historic buildings and castles, narrow cobbled-stone streets, arches and sculptures, and many other delightful details. But once its Christmas Market appears, it becomes even more magical.
Its Christmas market is usually installed in the city center in front of the impressive Castle of Heidelberg. On the Karlsplatz, you can do some ice skating while admiring the castle. Its lovely decorated stalls offer handicrafts, traditional German platters, drinks and lots of candy.
- Location: Hauptstraße 196, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
- Opening days: end of November – December 22nd
- Hours of operation: Sunday – Friday: 11:00am – 9:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Santa Pauli in Hamburg
A rather different market, since this one is only for adults, Hamburg’s Santa Pauli is normally set on the Spielbudenplatz at the red mile “Reeperbahn” in the neighborhood by the same name. Reflecting the image of its district, Santa Pauli is an… erotic Christmas Market. Among various festive items like a sexy chocolate Santa Claus, mulled wine cups with sexy angels and a tent with dancing striptease “angels,” you’ll find all the classic Christmas food and drinks.
On one stage called “Winter deck,” a cozy outdoor seating area with heaters and mulled wine invites you to relax. On another stage at the opposite end of the market, you can listen to live music. The whole square is covered with bark mulch and the atmosphere is easy-going, fun and Christmas-like.
- Location: Spielbudenplatz, Reeperbahn, Hamburg
- Opening days: mid-November – December 23rd
- Hours of operation: Monday – Wednesday: 4:00pm -11:00pm, Thursday: 4:00pm – 12:00pm, Friday and Sunday: 1:00pm – 1:00am, Sunday: 1:00pm – 11:00pm
The Christmas Market in Nürnberg is one of the most traditional in Germany. It has been operating since 1628 and it had attracted much attention. Its stalls are covered in classic red and white colors and they offer numerous Christmas treats and goodies, as well as delicious food and drinks. The stalls are rather marvelous – they were all made of regional wood. About 30 of them are from… 1890!
- Location: City center, Nürnberg, Bavaria
- Opening days: December 1 – 24th
- Hours of operation: daily 10:00am – 9:00pm, December 24th: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Organic Christmas Market of Hamburg
At the “Museum der Arbeit” a special Christmas Market takes place annually in Hamburg. It’s not just your regular market – everything is about nature and sustainability here. All the classic Christmas recipes are organic, as well as mostly vegetarian and vegan. There are also many stalls from environmental, human rights and animal protection organizations.
- Location: Museum der Arbeit, Wiesendamm 1, Hamburg
- Opening days: First weekend of December
- Hours of operation: Friday: 2:00pm – 6:00pm, Saturday: 10:00am – 8:00pm, Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Christmas Market at the Ravenna Gorge
What a spectacular setting for a Christmas Market! This Christmas village is installed underneath a high viaduct in the Ravenna Gorge, hidden deep inside the famous Black Forest in Germany. Steep, forested mountains covered in snow are the perfect frame for this enchanted market. Stalls with handicrafts, great items for Christmas presents and yummy food are just some of the delights awaiting you here.
- Location: Ravannaschlucht, Bavaria
- Opening days: every weekend of the Advent season, from Friday to Sunday
- Hours of operation: Friday: 3:00pm – 9:00pm, Saturday: 2:00pm – 9:00pm, Sunday: 1:00pm – 7:00pm
Medieval Christmas Market Esslingen
At this Christmas Market, you will be transported back to the Middle Ages. Jugglers, fire-eaters, story-tellers, and musicians in period costumes will be surrounding you here. Pewterer, broom maker, glassblower and other historic artisans will be showing you how to produce their products the old-fashioned way. You will become a part of another era. And of course, it’s still all about Christmas and the beloved food and drinks.
- Location: Markplatz 16, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg
- Opening days: end of November – December 23rd
- Hours of operation: daily 11:00am – 8:30pm, opening day: 5:00pm – 8:30pm, closing day 11:00am – 6:00pm
Christmas Market on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin
This lovely Christmas Market takes place at the famous square, in front of the stunning German and French cathedrals and the former Royal Theater. The Gendarmenmarkt is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin. Besides the traditional bratwurst, drinks, and handicrafts, there is a daily program staged live, featuring everything from ballet to jazz. You might as well try learning how to dance here since their dancing program is all about teaching various German folk-dances.
- Location: Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin
- Opening days: November 27th – December 31st
- Hours of operation: daily 11:00am – 10:00pm
- Price: Rather unusual this Christmas market takes an entrance fee of 1€ (for the shows and charity).
Christmas Market and Christmas Forest in Goslar
This Christmas Market is framed by dazzling medieval architecture and it offers handicraft, food, and drinks in its numerous rustic stalls. At the church, you will find a small train which can drive you through a mini Christmas forest. The forest shines bright with thousands of lights hanging from countless beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Nice music, lovely smell of candies and mulled wine, plus soft forest soil turn into a very romantic Christmas experience.
- Location: Münzstraße 1, Goslar, Niedersachsen
- Opening Days: end of November – December 30th
- Hours of operation: Market: Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 8:00pm, Sunday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
- Christmas Forest: Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm, Sunday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Baroque Christmas Market of Ludwigsburg
Framed by two spectacular Baroque churches, the Christmas stalls at this square are very lovely and special. In fact, the Baroque spirit predominates this charming Christmas marketplace. Large figures of angles rise high above the stands, spreading their wings while shining light. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine while listening to live music on the stage, and imagining how life was here in the early to late 1600s.
- Location: Marktplatz, Ludwigsburg
- Opening days: end of November – December 22nd
- Hours of operation: daily 11:00am – 9:00pm
Christmas Market in Dortmund
The Christmas Market in Dortmund has pretty much everything – from woolen socks to candy apples to hipster fashion accessories. But that’s not all! Dortmund’s Christmas Market also features the tallest Christmas tree in the World! And you thought that the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree was big. Well, this one in Dortmund is huge – it’s 45-meters-tall and it takes four weeks to install. But, it’s worth it!
- Location: Hansastraße 72, Dortmund
- Opening days: end of November – December 30th
- Hours of operation: Monday – Sunday: 10:00am – 9:00pm, Friday and Saturday: 10:00am – 9:00pm, Sundays: 12:00pm – 9:00pm, December 24th: 10:00am – 2:00pm; closed on December 25th; December 26th: 12:00pm – 9:00pm
Christmas Market Rathausplatz Hamburg
This beautiful Christmas Market is set up in the city center in front of the illuminated Town Hall. Upon entering it through a lovely decorated entrance, you will get a number of alluring stalls, offering high-quality handicrafts and other Christmas items. One of its unique highlights is a Santa Claus who flies above the market three times daily. Sitting on his slide, he’s riding from one corner of the market to the other, cheering down at the astounded children.
- Location: Rathausmarkt, Hamburg
- Opening days: end of November – December 23rd
- Hours of operation: Friday – Sunday: 11:00am – 10:00pm, Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
- Flying Santa Claus: daily 4pm, 6pm and 8 pm