Esslingen Christmas Market - In Photos

Posted on 25. Nov, 2013 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, Germany, Photo Posts

One of the things I was adamant about my German Christmas markets tour last year was to set foot in a picturesque village — I didn’t really care where it was, just as long as it was historical, photogenic and delightful. I wanted the tourist postcard on a silver plate. I wanted the Disneyland of Christmas markets.

And I got that in Esslingen.

Located just a few kilometers outside bustling Stuttgart, Esslingen in a medieval village that was, thankfully, spared in the bombings of World War II. It’s incredibly well-preserved and colorful town center dates back to the 1600s — precisely the type of place I had in mind for my Eurail.com Christmas market assignment.

esslingen christmas market

Sparkling wine tasting in Esslingen.

My visit in Esslingen started at the Kessler sparkling wine cellar, which I wrote about earlier. It was absolutely fantastic to have the cellars all to myself and learn more about this local institution. Highly recommended, and definitely worth traveling to Esslingen for.

But the real deal was at the Christmas markets. With an s. Because for such a tiny village, Esslingen has a whopping amount of Christmas markets. I actually counted four different markets within a radius of less than a kilometer: a medieval one, a circus-themed (!) one, a musical one and a more traditional one as well.

Needless to say the few hours I spent in Esslingen were not boring at all.

esslingen christmas market

Medieval music in the town square.

esslingen christmas market

Esslingen’s fabulous architecture.

Esslingen is a popular tourist stop not just because it is easily accessible, but also because it’s part of the legendary German timber-frame road, a 3000 kilometers-long — almost the entire length of Germany — tourist route that is bordered by traditional German heritage buildings like the ones pictured above. New bucket list item, perhaps?

esslingen christmas market

Romantic Esslingen alley.

esslingen christmas market

Delicious Kässpätzle!

esslingen christmas market

Yummy menu at the medieval market.

To pursue the whole German Christmas postcard theme, I wanted to stick to traditional meals and stay as authentic as possible. And according to my friend Yvonne, I did the right choice by picking kässpätzle, a delicious Swabian dish that consists of shell-shaped pasta (pätzle), copious amounts of cheese (käss) and dried onion toppings. At only 5 euros a plate, it was both delightful for my taste buds and my budget.

esslingen christmas market

Life-size nutcracker!

esslingen christmas market

A glimpse of the medieval market.

The medieval and the circus-themed markets definitely were the most entertaining ones, as expected. Sights include high-wire artist performing breathtaking feats at dizzying heights and acrobats rolling through Hafenmarkt in nothing less than a flaming wheel, as well as creative merchants and craftsmen ready to do just about anything to impress neophytes.

Job well done. The Christmas-obsessed lady over here was indeed quite impressed.

esslingen christmas market

One of the typical items found in Christmas markets.

esslingen christmas market

My Esslingen mug!

One of the traditions I took greatest pleasure in was, of course, glühwein. Anyone who says “I’m going to the Christmas market” really means “I’m going to drink massive quantities of spiced red wine”. Each city — and often each market in a same city — has different mugs, which make great collectibles and souvenirs to be used back at home. Visitors have to pay a small deposit (usually between 2 and 5 euros) for the mug, which they can decide to keep or to return later and get their deposit back.

esslingen christmas market

The more traditional market at the village’s main square.

esslingen christmas market

Just a small capture of what’s on sale in food stalls.

esslingen christmas market

Esslingen’s magnificent old town hall.

Really, if this sight isn’t worth traveling for, then I don’t know what is. Pictured here is Esslingen’s masterpiece, the ultimate Christmas-market-Disneyland postcard: the old town square, flanked by the old town hall and a good dozen medieval buildings that just add to the atmosphere. With such a stunning backdrop, I really don’t think it’s possible not to enjoy oneself.

Esslingen is what a traveler’s dreams are made of: an authentic, well-preserved place with welcoming locals that only ask to share their traditions and perspective. I have seen my fair share of quaint villages across Europe, and I can quite frankly say that Esslingen is well ahead in the rankings.

Saying that Esslingen is a perfect day trip from Stuttgart is a huge understatement. It is a destination in its own right, perhaps even more so that the big city nearby.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
-Norman Vincent Peale

Esslingen Christmas Market

Can you believe this is the tourist office?

Esslingen Christmas Market — Good To Know:

  • The city is a 20-minute train ride outside of Stuttgart.
  • Book your accommodation early, as Christmas Markets in Esslingen are hugely popular and hotels sell out quickly.
  • Few people know that the city is surrounded by vineyards; make sure to include a cellar tour in your visit.
  • The markets usually start in the last week of November and last until Christmas.
  • Make sure to spend a whole day in the city. I was there for less than 24 hours and I felt like I missed out on some things.

Have you been to Esslingen at Christmastime? Was it as fabulous as you’d predicted?

Disclaimer: I visited Esslingen as part of an assignment by Eurail.com and Visit Stuttgart. As always, all superlatives and opinions are my own. I really did have a fabulous time.

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8 Responses to “Esslingen Christmas Market - In Photos”

  1. Caitlyn

    25. Nov, 2013

    Oh, I would LOVE to go to this Christmas market! A friend from Stuttgart told me about this earlier in the year and I have been on the DB website almost every day looking for a good deal to get me there… lovely photos!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      25. Nov, 2013

      You should definitely find a way to go. Esslingen is SO worth traveling to, no disappointment!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Cipri @Travelocafe

    25. Nov, 2013

    A life-size nutcracker! Amazing! We have been in Germany just before the opening of the Christmas markets. We had the opportunity to see how they were built and prepared.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      25. Nov, 2013

      That is so cool! It must be fantastic to see how the markets are prepared before everyone else.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Nicole Gagnon

    27. Nov, 2013

    Oh, I would love to go there. One day…….. for sure.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      27. Nov, 2013

      You should! Despite the cold it is all worth it.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Adelina

    28. Nov, 2013

    This looks like the ideal version of every German Christmas market in my head. The cheery buildings look even more festive with all the lights.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      28. Nov, 2013

      It really does! It’s the old town hall. So pretty in the daytime too.

      Reply to this comment

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