When everyone thinks of Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest comes to mind. But this city is also famous for its many Christmas markets. The primary market is in the Old Town. In the city center on Marienplatz are endless stalls along the pedestrian mall that are very festive. This place is a Christmas paradise, from Gluhwein (hot wine) to chocolates and other sweet foods. There are stalls with beautiful holiday ornaments, gloves, hats, scarves, and other German food specialties. The decorations are incredible; it is even more illuminated and spectacular at night. Walking through this area, you will encounter the famous Hofbrauhaus Beer Garden and Restaurant, with authentic German food, beer, and an Oompah Band.
Once you get through all of this, there is another worthwhile market called the Tollwood Winter Festival. The Tollwood Winter Festival immerses the Oktoberfest Fairgrounds in amazing lights and colors. An international food court is located under a tent, and there are many arts and crafts stands and bars. There are also several musical performances throughout the duration of this market. This Winter Festival is open until 1:00 a.m. most nights of the celebration.
We stayed at the Munich Meridian Hotel at the Hauptbahnhof, Munich’s Central Station. The main market at Marienplatz is within walking distance from this hotel or a few stops on the metro. The metro also stops at the Tollwood Winter Festival. The train ride to and from the airport is approximately 45 minutes. If you happen to be at the airport between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., there is another smaller Christmas market in a covered outdoor area.
After Munich, we flew to Brussels, Belgium, to experience the Brussels Winter Wonders Market again. We had been there three years ago and loved it. It has more than 200 chalets, a unique carousel for kids, and a giant Ferris Wheel, which provides excellent views of the entire city. Once again, a sound and light show set to Christmas music at the Grand Place takes place every hour after sunset and until 10:00 p.m.
On this trip, we stayed at the Marriott Hotel on Grand Place. We could walk out of the hotel and into the market to enjoy the festivities.