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Get on the Christmas train in the Cultural Heart of Germany

23rd October 2012 Print

The festive season in the Cultural Heart of Germany offers more than your average Christmas market. Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia as the home of many Christmas traditions from Christmas decorations to Christmas carols take pride in celebrating the run-up to Christmas in style and with some added attractions.

Thuringia - unique festive experiences

Ever heard of a Christmas valley? It does exist in Thuringia where the Eisenberg Mill Valley near Jena features eight former mills on a length of eight kilometres that will be given over to all things Christmas on 15 and 16 December. The valley will be closed to traffic and visitors can walk from one mill to the next, each one featuring a different theme from medieval to children's Christmas. The parades on both days promise some special sights with Father Christmases on such unusual means of transport as motorbikes, rickshaws and tractors.

Fans of nostalgic train travel should mark the second Advent weekend in their calendars when the steam train Christmas Market Express will puff its way from Bad Hersfeld to Erfurt on 9 December to the most famous Christmas market in Thuringia. The town's Cathedral Square provides a perfect setting for over 200 stalls, a large pyramid and Ferris wheel. Thuringia also features some unique small markets with a difference such as a historical Christmas market at Wartburg Castle or the Lauscha Christmas Baubles market.

Saxony-Anhalt - half-timbered Christmas dreams

The Harz mountains in Saxony-Anhalt are home to almost 50 winter and Christmas markets. This impressive number isn't too surprising considering that the region's small towns are full of half-timbered houses and provide a picture-perfect setting. UNESCO world heritage site Quedlinburg not only features one of the prettiest Christmas markets (30 Nov to 26 Dec) in the whole of Germany but also a very special Advent calendar: Each day, another of the town's historical half-timbered houses opens its door to reveal a festive surprise. Moreover, on the second and third Advent weekend the courtyards of over 20 houses in Quedlinburg's historic centre will be filled with stands offering arts and crafts and culinary delights. Only half an hour west, the courtyard of the castle in Wernigerode will host a winter market from 17 December to 7 January, taking visitors back to medieval times.

Saxony - easy access to Germany's oldest Christmas market

Last but not least the Cultural Heart of Germany is also home to the country's oldest Christmas market: Dresden's Striezelmarkt has been going since 1434 and visitors from the UK can this year benefit from a new flight route and a OLT Express service from London Southend to Saxony's capital. The market is open from 28 November to 24 December and every day between 10 am and 9 pm visitors can buy all the typical products that are part of German Christmas celebrations. Everything comes with a local twist: The famous Stollen Christmas cake from Dresden, fine wooden handicraft from the Ore Mountains or ceramics from the Lausitz region. Dresden is also the perfect destination for some Christmas market hopping with numerous themed markets all over town. A comprehensive list and more information on Christmas markets and festive events in Saxony can be found on

For general information on the Cultural Heart of Germany see and