The Christmas market in Baden-Baden, Germany is a lot like the spa town itself: intimate, family-friendly and chic. The Christkindelsmarkt is new by European standards, established just a few years ago. The market is growing, though, after moving from a distant square to its current location, fronting two of the town’s most famous facades: the Kurhaus and the Trinkhalle. When my husband and I visited Baden-Baden last week, we were especially taken with the street of hand-painted “church windows” connecting the two lanes of market stalls.
A personal touch
Each window was sponsored by a local business or charity and designed and painted by area school children. Goods on offer in the market are mostly handmade, too. From original artwork to jewelry to specialty foods, there was something for everyone–there were even holiday greetings honoring the town’s connection with Russia (in the 19th century, it was the aristocracy, including Dostoevsky, who based The Gambler on his experiences here).
A small skating rink was busy and in the evening, and so were the food stands. Bratwursts and other sausages cooked over wood fires, gave off the aromas of campfires and cookouts. Mulled wine options included red or white, sweet or dry. There were Flammkuchen (the region shares this tradition with nearby Alsace) and regional specialties. While children skated, their parents could also enjoy Münchener Weisswurst and beer.
The splendid Kurhaus, with its gilded and chandeliered casino, seems to wear holiday decorations year-round. Modeled after Versailles, it offers plenty of flash in the famous gambling hall and in the auditorium, there is a full season of sophisticated musical entertainment. The Trinkhalle, or pump room, was built for 19th century holiday-makers to “take the waters” of Baden-Baden (drinking them), and nowadays serves as a backdrop to the Christmas market.
Baden-Baden’s Christmas market runs longer than most: from late November through year-end. Snow flurries opened the market this year, and it’s easy to imagine just how picture-perfect this setting can be under a canopy of white. Perhaps just in time for Christmas?
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Thanks to Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH, who hosted our visit to Baden-Baden. We had a great time!