As I mentioned earlier, Esslingen is home to two distinct markets: the traditional Esslingen Christmas Market and the Esslingen Medieval Market. Both are scattered across different squares and streets in Esslingen’s city center. Below, I’ll summarize the key areas you don’t want to miss!
For a traditional Christmas market experience without stilts, fire breathers and potion vendors, head to the traditional Christmas market at Marktplatz, which is home to over 80 stalls selling a variety of handmade goodies including Christmas ornaments, toys, and jewelry.
Besides plenty of shopping opportunities, this is the perfect place to sample a variety of classic Christmas market treats like roasted almonds, and of course, glühwein (mulled wine).
Just head to the towering Christmas pyramid and you’ll be sure to find plenty of drinks available to warm you up.
PS: Another highlight of the festivities at Marktplatz is the historic carousel, built in 1905 in art nouveau style. Don’t miss it!
After getting your fill of wholesome, traditional fun, head over to the nearby Rathausplatz to see the famous Esslingen Medieval Market in action.
The beautiful red Rathaus here makes the perfect backdrop for the dozens of food and market stalls available, with plenty of handicrafts to browse, performances to watch on the main stage, vendor demos, and more.
I cannot stress enough how much this city commits to their medieval theme – it’s absolutely spectacular. I hope you’re ready to meet vendors dressed in costume, stalls selling all kinds of wares from the Middle Ages, and even roaming performers to set the mood.
One of my personal favourite parts of the Medieval Christmas Market in Esslingen was the children’s area at Zwergenland.
I may not have kids of my own, but visitors of all ages should be sure to pop into this section, which has a tiny hand-operated ferris wheel (they claim it’s the smallest in the world!) along with fun medieval games like archery and crossbow shooting.
The chaotic frenzy of this area is super fun, and really makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a medieval fair ground from centuries ago.
The Medieval goodies continue to extend into Esslingen’s Hafenmarkt, where you’ll find more stalls selling food and handicrafts, along with a Märchenzelt (fairytale tent) for kids.
Once upon a time, this square was a marketplace for herbs, and today it’s lined with gorgeous half-timbered houses, so it’s well worth a visit!
PS: Keep an eye out for the fountain the center of this square – it’s well over 500 years old.
Another kid-friendly area in the Esslingen Christmas Market is the Weinachtsinsel, AKA the Christmas Island, which can be found in the Fischbrunnenplatz.
Here, you’ll find a Living Nativity Scene with real-life farm animals, along with a small handful of cute huts selling glühwein, roasted almonds and other goodies.
This is a place where you can indulge with a good conscience, because proceeds become donations collected by the Eßlinger Zeitung, who have been raising funds here since the 60s to support social institutions around the city.
So yes, you have my permission to have that second, third, or fourth cup of glühwein.
Last but not least, if you happen to be visiting the Esslingen Christmas Market on Saturday or Sunday, there’s a special Adventsmarkt that takes place on Advent weekends, with an additional 30+ stalls selling handmade goods that you might not find elsewhere at the market.
From painted porcelain and knitted accessories to glass jewelry and African masks, these artisans have a huge diversity of products to browse.
Best of all, the vendors rotate every week so you’ll always find something different!
Esslingen Adventsmarkt Hours: Saturdays from 11am to 9:30 pm and Sundays from 11am to 8:30 pm
So besides shopping and eating, what is there to do?
There’s actually a lot.
In fact, one of the most distinctive things about the Christmas markets in Esslingen are their emphasis on experience.
Their program is by far the most intense I’ve seen in all the Christmas markets I’ve visited in Germany, with over 500 program points throughout the season and four stages with pretty much non-stop performances.
The full schedule for 2020 hasn’t yet been released, but last year they had a full brochure available online of the full program, so keep an eye on the official Esslingen website here for that.
Generally speaking though, here are some fun things to keep an eye out for…
Fire jugglers, floating muses on stilts, Czech bagpipers, and Indian magicians…
THESE are the kinds of diverse performers you can expect to see at the Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market, which have a continual program of performances throughout the day to keep guests entertained. I know, it’s a lot.
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From fencing workshops and falconry demos to full-on archery tournaments, there are a lot of experiences that you can take advantage of at the Esslingen Medieval Market, usually subject to an additional fee. You can visit the official Esslingen website here for more details as they’re released.
You can also catch a lot of demonstrations at the different stalls, where artisans showcase their work daily and even show you behind the scenes how their products are made.
At the traditional Christmas Market in Marktplatz, you’ll find a few special booths that are reserved specifically for clubs, charities and non-profit organizations.
Often they are simply there to introduce their work to their community, other times they might even be selling goods as a fundraiser or asking for donations.
Donations are of course always happily and gratefully accepted at these stalls, so be sure to stop by and take a look at some of the different organizations that are there during your visit.
From candles and bracelets to tiny puppet making, there are a variety of hands-on workshops geared towards kids at the Esslingen Christmas Market, usually subject to an additional fee.
If you’re looking for a fun experience that your kids will never forget, be sure to inquire about these workshops when you arrive!
Yes, this really exists! Another very unique feature of the Esslingen Medieval Market (that perhaps puts it miles ahead of its competition) is there’s an actual medieval bathhouse on-site.
SO, if you fancy a nice little soak after spending all your riches at the market, you can get thee to the bathhouse, where it’s possible to enjoy a warm barrel bath…. all in the comfort of an atmospheric medieval tent. Spots usually need to be reserved in advance, but you can learn more here.
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#EsslingenamNeckar #Im #Badehaus auf dem Hafenmarkt kann man mittelalterliche #Wellness erleben. Das heiße Wasser entspannt herrlich. Im Zuber sitzend hat man einen wunderbaren Blick aufs #Marktgeschehen. Unbedingt vorher zu einem festen Termin anmelden! Telefon Marita Wolff 0170 9070268. Foto Thomas Wagner, miketraffic.com #EsslingerMittelaltermarktundWeihnachtsmarkt #MittelalterlichesBadehaus #Esslingen #Hafenmarkt #RegionStuttgart #Badevergnügen #enjoyesslingen #visitesslingen #medievalmarket #bath #wellbeing
If you’ve got kids with you, here’s another tip: one frequently praised highlight of the children’s program at the Esslingen Medieval Market is the special fairytale tent (Märchenzelt) in the Hafermarkt, with a colourful daily program including puppet shows, story readings and more. You can learn more here.
Lastly, if you happen to be in Essinglen on a Sunday, there’s a weekly live carillon performance at 4:30pm in front of the Old Town Hall!
Okay, onto my favourite part – the food!! You can click here to read a full list of typical treats you should try at every German Christmas market, but here is a special list with goodies that are especially noteworthy in Esslingen.
The Esslinger region has an abundance of beautiful orchards, so apples really are the star of the show all around the market, with freshly bake apple pastries and apple glühwein to enjoy all over. Admittedly, Glühwein is a must at any Christmas market, but while in Esslingen, be sure to try the apple variation too.
One of my favourite German dishes ever is Maultaschen, an amazing ravioli type dish packed with a meaty, bready filling. This dish is native to Swabia, and a must-try while you’re in Esslingen. It makes for wonderful comfort food, and is guaranteed to satisfy! Speaking of comfort food, you should also make sure you try…
This. is. the. best. The BEST, you hear me? If you see a stall selling Käsespätzle (which you will), run to it and stuff your face on my behalf.
Long story short, this is like a German Mac and Cheese made up of bouncy egg noodles tossed with cheese and fried onions. It’s simple, but amazing. Usually you would have it as a sit-down meal, but thanks to its (understandable) popularity, many Christmas market stalls now sell takeaway versions… which you MUST take advantage of because this is one of the best meals on planet Earth.
While not commonly a featured dish at German Christmas markets, Esslingen does things a bit differently, with a range of gourmet venison dishes available from Wildspezialitäten Göbel.
While I haven’t tried these myself, I have heard great things! If you want something a bit more filling and unique, this would definitely be a good pick.
Literally translated to “Stomach bread”, Magenbrot is a diamond-shaped cookie that is very popular around German Christmas Markets.
This German answer to gingerbread is made with a variety of spices like star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and is the perfect snack while you shop your heart out!
As a popular favourite at medieval markets across the country, Heurekaner can be best described as rolls of stuffed bread filled with yummy fillings like cheese.
They’re best eaten warm straight from the oven, and act as handy comfort food that will fuel you up for a long agonizing day of drinking hot wine and buying pretty Christmas trinkets ; )
Lastly, there’s no drink more synonymous with the Middle Ages than mead, a type of honey wine made by fermenting honey with water.
Of course, it’s a safe assumption that you’ll already be chugging gallons of glühwein during your trip, but diversify a little with a goblet of mead if you can – after all, you’re at a Medieval market!
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Alright, now what is there to buy at the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market? Here are some ideas for you based on the different stalls that I saw last year.
I have a more thorough guide to shopping at German Christmas Markets here, which covers the more stereotypical must-buys that you find at most markets. Below you’ll find a list more specific to Esslingen!
Regional products are always one of my favourite things to buy from German Christmas markets (click here for a full shopping guide!).
They’re unique, make great gifts, and talking to local producers is always a treat in itself. From different oils and chocolates to special herbs, jams and mustards, there are plenty of stalls selling local goodies, so be sure to keep an eye out.
They’re also typically quite liberal with samples ; )
Maybe a bit tougher to transport, but I found myself obsessing over the abundance of cute stalls selling ceramic kitchenware, like this one pictured below.
You’ll find all sorts of different mugs, pots, jars, etc. around the market, usually with cute patterns and writing too. Definitely a lovely gift to lug home, or a homey souvenir for your own place.
My favourite stall presentation-wise was definitely this stall here selling local wines and liqueurs, all the better because some of them are bottled like potions! How awesome do these look?
The only downside is I’d never drink them…
The Esslingen Medieval Market puts a huge emphasis on handicrafts and some of the most charming stalls I saw involved leather work. You can get a lot of really nice handmade leather products here, including little coin purses, belts, bags, and wallets.
It’s a cliche, but for good reason. One of the nicest souvenirs you can take home from the Esslingen Christmas Market is a handcrafted ornament for your tree.
You can find everything from glass baubles to hand carved wooden ornaments here, so don’t worry – you’ll be spoiled for choice. I had an especially soft spot for these mildly creepy little Santa figures:
Lastly, as a souvenir from your time at the awesome Esslingen Medieval Market, keep an eye out for stalls selling cool clothing items from the Middle Ages! I really had to resist my urge to purchase a dozen fluffy sheepskins to roll around on…
I hope you enjoyed this thorough review and guide to the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market!
This is truly one of my favourite Christmas markets in Germany and I’m so excited for you to experience it too. Let me know in the comments if you have any question and have an amazing trip!