German Holiday Bucket List

We have officially entered Holiday Season — some have deemed it “The Most Wonderful Time of Year” — I for one would have to agree.  I’m not sure exactly what it is, but there is something in the air that makes celebrating Christmas in Germany extra special.  It could be the sight of quaint fairytale-style villages, the smell of wood burning stoves, the taste of hot Glühwein on a cold day, the experience of strolling leisurely through a decorative Christmas market, or a mix of it all.   Either way, it’s an exciting time of year.  For most of us stationed in Schweinfurt, it is also our last chance to enjoy Christmas in Germany.  My advice is get out, explore, and enjoy every minute.

Personally, I am giddy with anticipation.  My house is decorated, my Christmas playlist is on repeat and my holiday shopping is almost complete.  Now the only thing missing is snow, which is anticipated to hit Schweinfurt by the end of the week!
So, as I get ready to embark on my last German holiday adventure, I have developed a Bucket List of must-do-activities before departure.  Maybe you will find something of interest on this list as well.  It is applicable to anyone experiencing their first or last holiday season in and around Schweinfurt.

German Holiday Traditions
Here are a couple fun traditions that I would like to incorporate this year.  You can learn more about these traditions and others by clicking this link Christmas in Germany provided by ACS.

  • Sun, Dec.1  |  Adventskranz
    I plan to purchase an Advent wreath at the Schwienfurt Christmas market.  You can get a wreath at any Christmas market or home décor store in Germany.  I will light my first candle this Sunday, Dec 1, and continue lighting a new candle each Sunday up until Dec. 23.  This is a fun activity that you can do as a single Soldier, married couple or as a family.
  • Dec. 6  |  St. Nikolaus Day
    In Germany, St. Nikolaus (our version of Santa Claus) visits on Dec. 6 to bring treats and gifts to the children. If you have kids, you can enjoy a visit from Nikolaus at the Schweinfurt Marketplatz on Dec. 6 at 3:00 p.m. I don’t have kids, so I plan to fill a stocking for my husband as a fun way to incorporate this German tradition.
  • New Year’s Eve Fireworks
    Traditionally the locals light Fireworks to celebrate the New Year.  This is a spectacular show to witness or take part in.  I like to watch the neighborhood fireworks from my house with a glass of Champagne.  However, you can participate by purchasing your own fireworks at any local hardware store a couple weeks prior to New Year’s.
Rothenburg Snowfall

Rothenburg Snowfall by MattJP via Creative Commons

Must See Christmas Markets
Christmas in Germany is not complete without attending at least one Christmas Market.  Personally, I have only been to the Schwienfurt Christmas Market, but his year I plan to take the train to a couple other destinations.

Note—At each Christmas Market you can keep the collectors mug that they serve Glühwein or hot coco in if you don’t wish to get your deposit back.  It makes for a fun, traditional souvenir, especially if the town’s name and year is printed.

  • Nov. 28 – Dec. 23  |  Schweinfurt Weihnachtsmarkt
    Enjoy the local Christmas vendors, drink a cup of hot Feuerzangenbowle (hot rum punch) or coco and savor the taste of the delicious Flammkuchen.
  •  Nov. 29 – Dec. 22  |  Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt
    The largest and most famous of all German Christmas Markets, attracting over 2 million visitors each year.   Make sure to grab a mug full of their fruit flavored Glühwein and indulge on some Nürnberger  lebkuchen (Gingerbread) while wandering the stands.
  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 23  |  Rothenburg o.d.T Christmas Market
    This idyllic medieval city serves as a perfect backdrop to there Christmas market.  Rothenberg is also the home to a Christmas Museum as well as a store dedicated year-round to only selling Christmas decorations.

Activities On Post

For a complete list of activities, make sure to visit the Winter Event Wrap-Up list proved by garrison found here.

Local/Travel Activities
I am very much an active, outdoor type of person.  This is just a small sample of some of the activities I haven’t done, but would like to do during December.  In addition to these suggestions, Schweinfurt Outdoor Rec offers a variety of extreme winter trips as well as rental equipment to suite your own travel needs.  Contact ODR directly for details.

  •  Schweinfurt IceDome
    This season, participate in a time honored tradition of ice skating at the Schweinfurt IceDome. The dome is open every day for ice skating. Cost is 3 Euro for adults and 2 Euro for kids.  They also provide group rates.  Contact the IceDome for more information.
  • Wasserkuppe-Rhoen
    Visit Wasserkuppe for a fun, outdoor day trip.  By car it is a 45 to 60 minute drive.  Once you arrive, you can ski/board, cross country ski, snow shoe or just hike around on your own.  On Sat, Dec. 7, 21 and 28, Schwienfurt ODR is offering a night ski trip.  Call 09721-96-8080 (CIV) or 354-8080 (DSN) for details.
  • Edelweiss Lodge and Resort
    This year our family plans to spend Christmas in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  It’s been my long time goal to ski the Zugspitze and it’s about to come true!  I am really looking forward to a couple days on the slopes, but if you aren’t an avid skier like me, there are still plenty of cool attractions in the area.  In my opinion, Garmisch is a “must-see” destination before departing Germany, so if you get the chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.  You can stay at the military sponsored hotel Edelweiss Lodge and Resort or at one of the cozy bed and breakfasts in the area.  You can travel by train or drive by car (approx. 4 hr. drive).
  • SATO Travel
    My last piece of advice is to travel as much as possible this season.  If you are in the market for a last minute get away, visit SATO Travel online to help you find a holiday special.  SATO has helped us find some really great travel deals.

If you haven’t noticed yet, there is literally something to do every day starting now until New Year’s.  Use my Bucket List or start planning your own.  Whatever you decide to do, I hope you take advantage of what Germany has to offer this season.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

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3 thoughts on “German Holiday Bucket List

  1. Michele,

    We were in Stuttgart this past weekend and they were in the process of setting up there Christmas Market. From what I could see and from what my cousin was telling me (he was stationed there for 4 years) its a pretty big one. We plan on going back in the next couple of weeks to see exactly what it is all about. I just thought you might like to check it out and add it to your list.

    Ashley Weaver

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