If you’re dreaming of experiencing a German Christmas Market, the Christmas Market in Stuttgart is one of the oldest and prettiest in Europe AND it’s one of the best Christmas Markets for kids!
Held within the courtyard of the old castle in the Stuttgart City Centre, it’s definitely a Christmas Market that you won’t want to miss!
Christmas Markets have been around for hundreds of years, originating in Germany in the 14th century. Originally the markets sold meat and everyday purchases, and were a way for the townspeople to stock up on provisions for the long winter ahead.
Over the years as the practice of buying gifts for Christmas became more popular, the markets began selling crafts and seasonal treats.
Today, the Christmas Markets sell everything from decorations and crafts to food and treats, all accompanied by music, lights and a festive glow.
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Stuttgart Christmas Market
The Stuttgart Christmas Market, or Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt in German, is held every year during the Advent season.
Beginning on the last Thursday in November and running until Christmas Eve, the Stuttgart Christmas Market is one of the largest markets in Germany, with over 3.6 million people visiting every year.
But what makes the Stuttgart Christmas Market so unique?
At first glance, the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt seems like any other German Christmas Market.
There are stalls selling arts and crafts, toys, jewellery and of course treats, sweets and glühwein.
There are festive lights, rides for the kids and the traditional Christmas pyramids.
But there are also a few other things that make the Stuttgart Christmas Market so unique.
- A giant Advent calendar lighting up City Hall.
- Spectacular light display
- A Finnish Winter Market
- Elaborately decorated Market huts
- A great kids’ area, with an actual mini steam train ride for kids
- It’s easy to visit several other German Christmas Markets
But if that’s not enough to convince you, let me explain why Stuttgart is such a great Christmas Market for kids.
- Like many German Christmas Markets, there are actually a few small markets throughout the city. In Stuttgart, the different markets are fairly close together, easily within walking distance, which is important when you have little ones with you.
- Although it’s a popular market, it’s not too crowded, as things are spaced out quite well.
- There is SO much for kids to do, within the Christmas Market itself or even throughout the city, that kids will have a great time. Which means that parents will too!
Honestly, just take our word for it that Stuttgart has a GREAT Christmas Market!
Whether you’re travelling with kids or without, you’ll definitely enjoy the unique things that the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt has to offer!
Where to Find the Stuttgart Christmas Markets
Like many German Christmas Markets, there are usually a few markets held in different places around the city. In Stuttgart, the three different markets are pretty close together and it’s easy to walk between them.
The main Christmas Market in Stuttgart is held in the Marktplatz, which translates to Market Square in English.
It makes sense then, to hold the main Christmas Market in the Market Square! Be sure to check out the elaborately decorated rooftops of the market stalls.
There’s an annual competition for the most beautifully decorated one and I have to say, they are some of the most decorated stalls we’ve seen!
Starting on December 1st, the windows of the Stuttgart Town Hall (the Rathaus) are transformed into a giant Advent calendar.
Each day, a new window is opened, revealing a coat of arms or image representing the different districts in Stuttgart.
A musical greeting from each district is also played every evening at 6pm.
It’s pretty impressive to see such a giant advent calendar!
Right in front of the Rathaus is the city’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree. There are also plenty of stalls selling traditional ornaments, gingerbread and of course, glühwein.
About 200m north of Marktplatz (2 minutes walking), you’ll find Schillerplatz.
This smaller square is surrounded by the Collegiate Church and the Old Castle, making a really pretty background to another Christmas Market.
As it’s a smaller square and a little away from the main market, it makes for a welcome break from the crowds, especially if you’re visiting with young kids.
From Schilerplatz, you can head north to Schlossplatz or east to Karlsplatz. Whichever market you choose to visit first, the walk is only about 300m.
Karlsplatz is home to the unique Finnish Winter Market.
Here you’ll find Finnish Glögi (mulled wine similar to glühwein), flammachs (salmon) cooking over outdoor grills, Scandinavian handicrafts and even a Lavvu, which is a large tent similar to a tepee that has heated seating inside.
The Schlossplatz is the largest square in Stuttgart and home to the Neues Schloss, a large Baroque palace.
In front of the palace, you’ll find many wooden huts selling traditional crafts and delicious treats (including these amazing chocolate covered marshmallow treats that we ate every day), and of course, glühwein here as well.
But aside from the traditional stalls, this is where the kids’ area is, and there’s lots for kids to experience here!
Children can participate in several activities from baking to candle-making and create some unique souvenirs to bring home!
There are also many rides for children, including a kid-sized ferris wheel (which was perfect for my 4-year-old boys), a carousel and even a mini train ride.
Yes, there are train rides at other Christmas Markets, but this one is a real mini steam engine that takes kids on a ride through the miniature train village!
And there’s more! There’s also a large skating rink, and unique to Stuttgart are the light sculptures with an hourly light show.
While every Christmas Market has lights, Stuttgart takes it a step further with their fabulous light display and show.
On the grounds in front of the Palace, there are 8 light sculptures, covered in thousands of lights.
These sculptures represent the main tourist attractions of Stuttgart, including a Porsche, a Mercedes-Benz, the Wilhema Zoo and a ferris wheel.
Every hour there’s a unique light show with the sculptures, which is definitely worth watching!
Another great thing about Stuttgart is how close it is to several other Christmas Markets! The trains in Germany are fantastic and it’s only a short 15-20 minute ride from Stuttgart to Esslingen and Ludwigsburg.
Christmas Markets Near Stuttgart
The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market is just a short 15 minute train ride from Stuttgart and is definitely worth visiting!
The market has over 170 booths and overlooking the market are majestic angels, spreading their lighted wings.
Arches and gates made of thousands of tiny lights decorate the town. The thousands of lights make for a cosy atmosphere, regardless of the weather!
Esslingen is known for its’ Medieval Market and is a quick 10 minute bus ride, or 20 minute train ride from Stuttgart.
There are lots of medieval activities for kids and adults to try (like a beanbag on a catapult or ax throwing), numerous stalls selling medieval clothing, jewelry and really, anything medieval. Most of the vendors are dressed in medieval clothes as well!
Located right beside the Medieval Market on the Marktplatz is the main market, with traditional food and crafts, a Christmas pyramid selling mulled wine and a carousel for kids.
Esslingen is also home to a castle, which you can hike up to for a great view of the town and the markets below. Or you can just wander the streets and admire the half-timbered houses and interesting architecture of the town.
What to Eat at the Stuttgart Christmas Market
Traditional foods, treats and of course, warm beverages are all for sale at most Christmas Markets in Germany. Each region will have its own local specialities though, and the Stuttgart Christmas Market offers a lot of traditional Swabian food.
This is a local Swabian specialty, like a giant ravioli but filled with minced meat and spinach, sometimes bread crumbs and spices as well. Apparently they’re quite delicious but we didn’t try them as mom has a gluten allergy.
A Finnish specialty, this is salmon grilled over a large outdoor fire. If you love salmon, you’ve got to try it!
This gingerbread looks SO pretty and you’ll see them decorating stalls all over the market.
They’re not like the gingerbread that you may be used to eating though, as it’s quite hard!
But they look so festive and make great souvenirs!
Stollen is a traditional Christmas treat in Germany. It’s a bread that’s similar to fruit-cake and you can find it anywhere in the Christmas Market. Apparently it’s quite yummy too!
This hot, mulled wine comes in red or white and is served steaming hot in a unique mug. (Or if you’re not a fan of mulled wine, there’s also apfelwein – hot cider.)
Each Christmas Market will have its own mug which makes for a great souvenir! (If you don’t want to keep the mug, you can always return it and get your deposit back.)
Other foods include candied nuts, roasted chestnuts and of course sausages – you can find currywurst and bratwurst at any food stall.
What to Buy at the Stuttgart Christmas Market
You’ll find a huge assortment of locally-made wooden crafts at the markets, from simple wooden toys to elaborately carved wooden ornaments, as well as nativity scenes and traditional Christmas pyramids.
In Germany, you’ll see these gorgeous Christmas stars lighting up the front windows of homes during the Advent season. They’re made from heavy paper and usually fold up fairly easily, making them easy to bring home as a souvenir or present.
Glass ornaments are not really kid-friendly, but they are gorgeous!
Many of the stalls have the artist working right there so you can watch the process.
Although we didn’t buy any ornaments, the boys were fascinated to watch the artist as he worked!
Where to Stay in Stuttgart
We preferred to stay just outside of the center of the Stuttgart and walk in every day as it’s a bit quieter. If you prefer to stay closer to the markets, there are plenty of great hotels right downtown. You can check for available accommodation here.
Have you visited the Stuttgart Christmas Market? If not, hopefully you’ll have the chance to visit it in the future!
For more ideas and inspiration on visiting Christmas Markets, be sure to check out these posts: