I’ve had my fill of Christmas markets for the season, but I finished on a high note at the Stuttgart Weinachtsmarkt.
Filling the old town, and boasting more than 280 stalls this year, the market claims to be one of the oldest traditional markets in Europe, being mentioned in documents dating back to 1692, and with it’s lavish decorations and the stunning backdrop of old buildings, it is certainly one of the most beautiful markets around. The stalls are housed in wooden huts laden with branches, seasonal and festive scenes featuring polar bears to penguins, singing moose’s to snowmen, and baubles to bible scenes.
There are all the usual stalls that you would expect to find, candles, votive lights, hats, scarves and gloves, leather goods, slippers made from felt and sheepskin, nativity scenes carved in wood, fragrant soaps, decorations that glitter and sparkle, but you can also find spare parts for your vacuum cleaner, any variety of scrubbing or sweeping brush, and endless brightly coloured silicon kitchen accessories, from baking moulds to spatulas and whisks.
There is no shortage of food available with tempting aromas adding to the festive atmosphere. Stalls sell traditional German bratwurst; aromatic spicy gluhwein; crepes; sugared almonds; dried fruits coated with thick chocolate; heart shaped gingerbread lebkuchen, and rich loaves of fruity stollen.
But the highlight of my visit this year, was lunch at the Finnish market, where sides of salmon are cooked around a wood fire, and served with potatoes and dill, garlic or mustard sauce. With a mug of steaming Glögi, the Finnish version of mulled wine, you can sit inside a tipi to eat, while a log brazier and benches lined with reindeer skins keep you cozy and warm.