Experience the Magical Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany

Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany with water color frame

There are many Christmas markets in Germany and most people visit the big ones, such as in Berlin, Frankfurt or the Dresden Christmas market. But what about a smaller market in a purely magical, medieval town centre setting? I can recommend the Christmas Market in Schmalkalden, Thuringia (Schmalkalder Herrscheklasmarkt).

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Experience the Magical Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany

Key points for the Xmas Market in Schmalkalden

  • Dates: 30 Nov to 22 Dec 2019
  • Location: Altmarkt, 98574 Schmalkalden
  • Hours: Mo-Tues 11am to 7pm, Wed 10am to 7pm, Thu 11am to 7pm, Fri-Sat 11am to 8pm, Sun 1pm to 7pm

Where is Schmalkalden?

Schmalkalden is a small town in the most central state of Germany, Thuringia often flies under the radar of most tourists to Germany. That’s a mistake (and I’m not just saying because that’s where I’m from and I might therefore be biased). There are so many gorgeous towns, historic houses, museums, forests, mountains, castles and lakes to explore. But that’s a different article.

Anyway, Schmalkalden can be found in the southwest of the state, pretty close to the Rennsteig and Thuringian Forest.

Why Visit Schmalkalden?

The historic center of Schmalkalden town is absolutely gorgeous. Not for nothing does it go by the name “Town of Half Timbered Houses and Reformation.” Wherever you roam, the colorful half timbered houses just beg to be photographed and admired.

Martin Luther himself visited Schmalkalden in 1537 but left before he could partake in the local Reformation talks due to health reasons. (Cancelling might have actually saved his life.)

Oh, and did I mention there’s a castle with one of the prettiest and lavish chapels?

Why the name?

The locals named the xmas market in Schmalkalden Herrscheklasmarkt. Why? The local dialect for Saint Nikolaus is Klas. During the Reformation, the local citizens wanted to distance themselves from Catholic traditions and invented their own Saint Herrscheklas who brings nuts, apples and treats on the first advent Wednesday instead of December 6.

For Catholics (and many households in Germany still) Saint Nikolaus goes around Germany handing out treats for kids who polished their shoes the night before and put them outside. If the kids have been naughty, they get a piece of coal. (I never heard of anyone getting coal however.)

Note that Nikolaus isn’t Santa Claus, but a real life person who inspired the holiday due to his charity work.

center of the Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany
Schmalkalden Christmas market

What’s to see at Schmalkalden’s Christmas Market?

Since the town is pretty small, the local market is too. I recommend going at night when the lights really turn the historic center into a fairy tale winter wonderland.

However, there are quite a few things to admire around here and events going on that make this experience extra special. This includes guided tours around town, light & laser shows and fireworks, dining experiences, Santa meetups and live concerts.

One special event that you could attend is the Gaudi Biathlon on December 21 at 5pm. You can watch four teams compete. They are comprised of local clubs, school groups, company members etc. Check out the full event program (in German) here.

The main Christmas market in Schmalkalden takes place on the market square, by the old town hall.

There’s also a medieval Christmas at Schmalkalden Castle taking place. Sadly, it runs only for the first two advent weekends and is over now. (30 Nov to 1 Dec & 7 to 8 Dec 2019)

What are the Must Buys?

As with all Christmas markets in Thuringia, a staple food is the local Thüringer Bratwurst (thuringian sausage). I’ve been told that Schmalkalden serves the best one. But you basically never can go wrong with this sausage, as long as you get it in the state of its origin. It really is amazing!

Vegetarians might wanna go for a langosch (Hungarian fried dough with toppings) or sweets.

A very special thing you can get for Christmas in Schmalkalden is the advent calendar. It’s sold throughout November and each December day until Christmas Eve, a door becomes a lottery ticket. Sales from the calendar are donated to support local projects. Check vendors here.

Typical Christmas souvenirs from Germany also encompass wooden tree ornaments, lace window hangers and table spreads, wooden Christmas decorations from the Ore Mountains and local handcrafted items, including clothing.

lebkuchen stall at Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany

How to Get to Schmalkalden?

Schmalkalden is connected to the train network in Germany and you can therefore easily reach it. If you are in Thuringia, you can get a Regio ticket or even a hopper ticket if you’re in neighbouring towns.

For the latter, there are return options. One way costs 5,80 EUR. Don’t forget to validate it at the green machines before boarding the train.

There are no big companies like Flixbus going to Schmalkalden as it’s so small.


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Experience the Magical Schmalkalden Christmas Market in Germany
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