In southwest Germany, the city of Stuttgart has happily announced that its Christmas markets are returning this year, after having been suspended during the 2020 holiday season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reopening of its three Christmas markets starts this month with safety measures and social distancing in place. With the arrival of the cold season, the streets in and just beyond Stuttgart transform annually into enchanting outdoor markets decorated with thousands of dazzling fairy lights.
The main market on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz, the baroque market at the castle of Ludwigsburg, and the medieval Christmas market in the atmospheric, half-timbered town of Esslingen, will all reopen this year with extended hours and special highlights.
Stuttgart’s primary Christmas market (Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt) is one of Europe’s most beautiful, and also one of the oldest, with origins that date back more than 300 years. This year, it will run November 24 through December 30, and stretch from the New Palace to Schiller Square.
Prospective visitors should note that they need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or show other proof of immunity. Everyone is also required to take a quick test prior to eating or drinking.
The Stuttgart Christmas Garden at Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Gardens presents guests with a romantic fairytale landscape stretched out over two kilometers (a little over a mile) that’s decked out in over 10 million lights. Meanwhile, grand illuminated sculptures (Glanzlichter) appear in the city center at Palace Square and on Königstrasse, which depict some of Stuttgart’s best-known landmarks and attractions.
There you’ll see incandescent sculptural representations of the ‘Stuttgarter Rössle’ horse from the city’s coat of arms, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Porsche Museum, the Stuttgart Television Tower, the Wilhelma Zoo, the Royal Burial Chapel, the ‘Wasen’ Beer Festival and the Stuttgart Wine Festival.
As the light sculptures suggest, Stuttgart is famously home to two world-class auto museums: Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, both fun, interactive and sophisticated experiences. Visitors will see state-of-the-art racers and celebrity cars and learn about automotive design, luxury, and technology within the context of both social and industrial history.
With the Württemberg wine region surrounding the city, Stuttgart also enjoys a close personal relationship with award-winning wines. The hills blanketed in vineyards provide endless opportunities for hiking, biking, tastings and tours, not to mention beautiful views overlooking the city. Stuttgart’s annual wine festival extends from the end of August through early September on the main castle square (Schlossplatz), and features 500 of the region’s various varietals, along with traditional local fare.
Locals and visitors also look forward to the city’s annual beer festival, that’s second only to Oktoberfest in terms of its size and popularity, held on the Canstatter Volksfest fairground at the end of each September. It features not only beer-hall tents, but also rides, entertainment and an agricultural fair.
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