One of the most charming Christmas traditions is the German Christmas Market event. Over the years, I have had the privilege of both living and traveling in Germany, and I consider these events to be some of my fondest memories of my time there.
The German Christmas Market, or Christkindlmarkt (translated Christ Child Market), originated in Germany all the way back in the 1400’s. Many other neighboring countries decided to adopt this custom as well, and it has become a well-loved regional event in much of northern and central Europe.
This outdoor marketplace takes place during the entire four weeks of advent, and it typically features traditional displays with nativity scenes and vendors selling traditional German ornaments, nutcrackers, candied and toasted almonds, gingerbread cookies, and hot mulled wine, called Glühwein. Some German Christmas Markets in Europe attract over two million people every year!
It is a beautiful experience to get dressed up in cozy winter clothes, shop while the snow falls, enjoy hot chocolate or mulled wine, and admire professional Christmas tree displays with friends.
The tradition is unfortunately not as common in the United States. But when done properly, it is just as charming and magical as an authentic German Marketplace. You can find small German-inspired Christmas Markets in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Chicago, to name a few.
As a professional event planner, I’m always intrigued at the logistics of planning an event of this magnitude! Planning an event like this takes a bit of finesse – after all, this is definitely not like most other events!
For one thing, this is a four week-long affair! Furthermore, it is outdoors – during the wintertime – in cold regions! This is certainly an event that requires some out of the box thinking and strategizing.
A Christmas Marketplace takes a lot of dedication from a lot of people to make it happen. From the vendors that commit to a month of running their shops outside in the winter months, to the artists that create professional Christmas displays, many hands need to go into the planning and execution of a German Christmas Market experience. Security professionals, production specialists, event planners, vendors, and marketing experts all have a role to play in the creation of an authentic German Christmas Market.
In addition, because these events are usually held outside, there are unique elements that need to be brought in or accommodated. For instance, someone needs to supply power for electricity so that food vendors can cook. It wouldn’t be a German Christmas Market without the mulled wine, fresh candied almonds, Weißwurst, and warm pretzels!
Also, much of the event takes place at night since the days are so short during the wintertime, so the event needs to be properly lit. Not only does it need to be lit, but an event like this needs to be lit with a certain amount of intentional ambiance! Usually, this requires a professional lighting crew.
Vendors need to be able to process payments which, in this day and age, often times requires internet. Also, because it is outside, event planners need to make sure there are toilets and warming huts nearby.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes on in an event like this! A German Christmas Market, when done as authentically as possible, can be one of the most memorable experiences in a person’s lifetime. It goes far beyond the scope of a sales or marketing event. This is something people will want to return to year after year. Come to think of it, I better add this to my 2020 “To Do” list and get back to Germany! Do you want to come with me?