The Frankfurt Christmas market draws approximately three million visitors and is one of Germany’s largest Christmas markets. It starts, at the earliest, on the Monday preceding the first Sunday of Advent and consistently concludes on the 21st of December.
The Römer building and its gabled façade, built on a charming cobblestone square, take centre stage in the heart of the historic town, offering a captivating contrast to the city’s modern architectural elements in the background. Within this stunning setting, the Frankfurt Christmas Market bursts into existence.
🎦 Watch our short video on Christmas in Germany, which will inspire you to explore this beautiful country in Europe for the holidays ⤵
About the Frankfurt Christmas Market
The German name for the Frankfurt Christmas Market is Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt.
Amidst the charming backdrop of half-timbered buildings, the Frankfurt Christmas market is adorned with a delightful array of seasonal culinary delights and market treasures.
The Christmas stalls
The stalls feature handicrafts from the Ore Mountains, nutcrackers, candles, puppets, tin toys and Christmas tree decorations. There are several carousels for children and a visit from Saint Nicholas on 6 December.
Visitors can indulge in traditional offerings such as mulled wine, bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, and freshly roasted almonds. A unique Frankfurt delicacy, the Bethmännchen (small, marzipan-based cookies), also graces the market, adding to the festive culinary experience.
The Christmas tree
As per tradition, a sizeable Christmas tree is erected on the Frankfurter Römer square in early November and adorned in preparation for the Christmas market’s grand opening at the end of November.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market tree for 2023 comes from Spessart, near Flörsbachtal (Main-Kinzig).
Experts selected the 26-metre-high, 60- to 80-year-old spruce from a forest, and it will be installed on the Frankfurter Römer on the 1st of November before being decorated in time for the opening of the Christmas Market on the 27th of November.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market also features a carousel that is a delight for young and old alike.
A short history of the Frankfurt Christmas Market
Documented evidence exists of Christmas markets being a cherished tradition in Frankfurt as far back as 1393.
These markets, held during the Christmas season, often featured religious mystery plays staged at the Römerberg, with inspiration likely drawn from an important historical event in 941.
A Christmas mass
This event witnessed the reconciliation of King Otto I “the Great” with his brother Heinrich following a Christmas Eve mass.
Heinrich knelt before his brother in the Palatinate Chapel, situated at the location where the present-day cathedral stands.
The power of this moment has endured through time, serving as the subject of a painting by Alfred Rethel, now on display at the Historical Museum.
A Christmas wedding
However, it was the year 1498 that marked a significant turning point in the historical evolution of the Christmas market. During that Christmas, the wedding of Landgrave Wilhelm of Hesse and the daughter of the Palatine Elector was celebrated.
Chronicles vividly describe a grand procession featuring no less than 1,000 horses as the Elector, his entourage, and distinguished guests made their way to Frankfurt to partake in the joyous occasion.
A Christmas without Christmas tree
Curiously, one crucial element of today’s Christmas market, the Christmas tree, was notably absent during the era of the “Christkindchesmarkt.”
In the early 19th century, the Christmas tree would become a widely embraced Christmas decoration.
In Frankfurt, the privilege of selling the finest trees from the Römerhalle before Christmas was bestowed upon vendors from Sachsenhausen. Over time, this tree sale transitioned to the Römer Square.
At this point in history, the Christmas market remained a uniquely Frankfurter affair, with strict restrictions against outsiders.
A Christmas market
It progressively assumed a distinctive Frankfurt character, becoming renowned for offering the finest locally crafted goods and an array of toys, delectable sweets, and charming Christmas gifts.
The toys of the time predominantly consisted of simple wooden carts and “fabric pom-poms,” though they later incorporated wooden and rocking horses.
Remarkably, it was a common practice in Frankfurt for parents to exclusively procure their children’s toys from the Christmas market, a tradition that persisted until the 1970s and 1980s.
During World War II, the historical backdrop of the Christmas market fell victim to Allied air raids in Frankfurt.
In the post-war period, the market relocated to different venues across the city as the Römerberg was undergoing construction work, particularly during the late 1960s and early 1970s for the subway system.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Christmas market could return to its traditional location.
It has become a significant tourist attraction since restoring the historic eastern row of the Sonntagsberg in 1983.
Events around the Frankfurt Christmas Market
The Christmas market is also the occasion for Advent events:
- International Christmas Advent Concerts
- Ringing of the Frankfurt city bells (50 bells from 10 churches) on the Saturday before 1st Advent from 4.30 pm to 5 pm and on Christmas Eve from 5 pm to 5.30 pm.
- Visit from St Nicholas (particularly on the 6th of December)
- The Glockenspiel in St Nicholas Church (Every day at 9.05 am, 12.05 pm and 5.05 pm)
- Ecumenical Advent carols at the Frankfurt Christmas Market
The Frankfurt Christmas Market takes place from the 27th of November to the 21st of December 2023.
For more information about Frankfurt, check out the event’s official website.
What to see in Frankfurt at Christmas
With its dynamic blend of old and new, Frankfurt has much to offer monument enthusiasts and art lovers alike.
Indeed, Frankfurt is a city that seamlessly blends its rich historical heritage with modern architectural marvels.
Visitors to Frankfurt can explore a diverse range of monuments and landmarks.
Frankfurt old town
Frankfurt’s Old Town is a charming and historically rich district that offers a delightful blend of culture, history, and architecture. Nestled along the picturesque River Main, it’s a place where old-world charm harmoniously coexists with the bustling metropolis.
A reconstructed old town
The meticulous reconstruction project, culminating in 2018, has breathed new life into this area between the iconic Römer and the majestic cathedral. The result is a vibrant neighbourhood where locals and tourists can relish the ambience of a time-honoured old town.
Exploring Frankfurt’s Old Town provides a glimpse into the city’s captivating history. You can sip coffee in quaint cafes, visit fascinating museums, or indulge in shopping sprees surrounded by the architectural diversity that tells the story of Frankfurt.
One of the highlights is the archaeological gardens, where remnants of a former Roman settlement and a Carolingian imperial palace transport you back in time, vividly explained through video animations. To add to the historical depth, you can follow the Coronation Route, retracing the footsteps of the kings and emperors who were crowned here.
Within and around Frankfurt’s Old Town, several landmarks are worth exploring, including:
The main landmarks of the old town
- Römerberg (Ostzeile): The Römerberg square, lined with picturesque half-timbered houses, is a focal point for many events and celebrations, offering a quintessential view of Frankfurt’s Old Town.
- Römer (City Hall): The Römer is one of the most recognizable symbols of Frankfurt, with its beautifully adorned façade and historical significance. It has served as the city hall for over 600 years.
- Saalgasse: This charming alleyway is known for its historical architecture and quaint shops, creating a perfect ambience for a stroll.
- Kaiserdom St. Bartholomäus (St. Bartholomew Cathedral): The Kaiserdom is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and has a rich history, making it a must-visit site for those interested in cultural heritage.
- Alte Nicolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church): This historic church has witnessed centuries of events and is an architectural gem with a unique atmosphere.
- Paulskirche (St. Paul’s Church): The Paulskirche played a pivotal role in German history as the seat of the 1848 National Assembly, striving for a united and democratic Germany.
- Goldene Waage (House of the Golden Scales): This beautifully restored building showcases the dedication to preserving Frankfurt’s architectural heritage.
Don’t miss the Städel Museum, which houses a remarkable art collection from the Middle Ages to contemporary works.
The modern side of Frankfurt is best represented by the Main Tower, offering breathtaking views of the city skyline and the futuristic European Central Bank headquarters. The skyscrapers district owes Frankfurt its surname: Mainhattan!
What to do in Frankfurt
Here’s a list of inspiring activities in Frankfurt:
Frankfurt Christmas Market: What you need to know
Here are some practical info to plan your visit to the Frankfurt Christmas Market.
Where is the Frankfurt Christmas Market located?
Frankfurt’s historic and primary Christmas market is located on the Römerberg and extends to Paulsplatz and the adjacent squares leading to the Zeil, the city’s main shopping street.
How to get to the Frankfurt Christmas Market?
🚄 By train:
Accessing Frankfurt by train is a convenient and popular option.
Frankfurt Central Station, or Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, is one of the busiest train stations in Europe and serves as a vital transportation hub.
It is located right in the city’s heart and offers excellent rail connections to various domestic and international destinations.
High-speed trains like the ICE (InterCity Express) make Frankfurt easily accessible from major German cities like Berlin, Munich, and Cologne, as well as Paris.
The station’s central location makes it a prime starting point for exploring Frankfurt and its attractions, as the city centre is just a short walk from the Hauptbahnhof.
✈️ By air:
Accessing Frankfurt by air is straightforward due to the city’s major international airport. Frankfurt Airport (Flughafen Frankfurt am Main) is one of Europe’s busiest and well-connected airports.
Situated approximately 12 kilometres southwest of the city centre, it is accessible by various transportation options.
You can reach the city from the airport via the efficient S-Bahn (suburban train) system or by taxi.
The airport serves as a crucial transportation hub, providing convenient access to Frankfurt and the surrounding region, making it an ideal entry point for travellers coming to the city by air.
🚗 By car:
Accessing Frankfurt by car is a convenient option due to the city’s central location and the well-developed road network in the region.
Frankfurt is situated at the intersection of several major highways, making it accessible from various parts of Germany and neighbouring countries.
The city is connected to the A3, A5, and A66 autobahns, allowing easy access from cities like Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Stuttgart. The city is also well-connected to nearby European countries like France, the Netherlands, and Belgium via the motorway network if you’re travelling from abroad.
Frankfurt has ample parking facilities, but it’s essential to be mindful of traffic conditions, especially during rush hours, as the city can experience congestion.
⚠️ Drivers need a green sticker to enter Frankfurt’s low-emission zone. (more details)
Frankfurt is :
- 190 km from Cologne
- 205 km from Stuttgart
- 215 km from Strasbourg (France)
- 225 km from Nuremberg
- 395 km from Munich
- 415 km from Zurich (Switzerland)
- 550 km from Berlin
- 570 km from Paris
Where to park your car?
If you’re coming to the Frankfurt Christmas Market by car, there are two options:
- Park your car directly in the city centre, in one of the covered car parks. There are around 7,400 parking spaces in around 25 covered car parks in Frankfurt city centre, most of which are open 24 hours a day. However, parking spaces in the city centre are quite expensive.
- Park your car free of charge outside the city centre in one of the Park+Ride spaces and take the tram to the city centre. More info on Frankfurt’s Park+Ride.
Where to stay in Frankfurt at Christmas?
Immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Frankfurt Christmas market by opting for comfortable and convenient accommodation!
When visiting the Frankfurt Christmas market, selecting suitable accommodation is key to fully enjoying this enchanting season. Fortunately, the city offers a range of lodging options right for every taste and budget.
You can choose from elegant hotels in the heart of the old town, cosy hostels, or charming apartments that provide an authentic home-away-from-home experience.
To streamline your search, you can check out this list of accommodations, featuring a variety of options for your stay.
Remember to look at our interactive map to locate lodgings close to the Christmas market and select the one that best suits your needs.
About the illustrations in the article
Most of the photos are ours (© French Moments). However, I have selected some photos (including the Featured Image of this article) from Depositphotos, a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers.