Having grown up in Rostock, the city that has been hosting North Germany’s biggest Christmas market ever since I remember, I just had to pay Bristol’s German Christmas Market a visit to see, if you can compare the two and of course to write my very first UK Christmas market review .
So on a Sunday afternoon, we wrapped up warm and made our way into Bristol city centre – the home of Bristol’s German Christmas Market. Altogether, there are 35 traditional wooden stalls which are beautifully decorated with evergreen garlands and fairy lights, a giant pyramid showing a nativity scene and an advent calendar counting the days in anticipation of Christmas.
Parking is quite uncomplicated in Bristol’s city centre. There aren’t many places that don’t charge, but there are a number of spacious car parks, so it really isn’t a problem finding parking close by. There’s a car park each in The Galleries or Cabot Circus and both are so close to the Christmas market that it won’t take you any longer than 5 minutes before you can join the fray.
Because the Christmas Market is in the heart of the city centre it can get rather busy in the late afternoon, especially at the weekend, but there are beautiful little stalls selling handmade toys and traditional German Christmas decorations that always remind me of my childhood. They sell candles, soaps, ornaments, jewellery, pyramids and even original Räuchermännchen from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), which are little incense smoker that spread the most beautiful Christmas smell in your living room. So, if you are looking for quite unique little gifts that aren’t available on the high street, then Christmas markets might be a great alternative for you when you go Christmas shopping. Amy loved looking at everything and couldn’t get enough of all the fairy lights that sparkled when it turned a little darker.
Of course, a visit to the Christmas Market is incomplete without trying some of the delicious food and drink on offer, so we stopped at a couple of stalls to pick up some of our favourites. An absolute must-eat for me are chocolate pineapple and caramelised almonds. They are just the epitome of Christmas for me and I just can’t wonder around a Christmas market without getting them. When I was little I used to love the candied apples or grapes, but I have gone off them as they are just terribly sticky – I do see why kids love them though. At the next stall we got some Mutzen or Oliebollen as they are called sometimes. They are basically deep-fried dough with lots and lots of icing sugar and another absolute must-eat, if you want to experience Bristol’s Christmas Market the German way.
After a couple of rides on the children’s carousel (we downloaded a flyer online that gave us a second ride for free), we warmed up with a hot chocolate before making our way home – munching on caramelised almonds and humming Christmas songs in the car.
Compared to the Christmas market in my hometown Rostock, Bristol’s German Christmas market is somewhat tiny, but it’s not always the quantity that counts. The city has made a great effort to bring as much German flair as possible into the South West and although I was missing some more rides for the little ones, I can say that we had a great time as a family. We had a lot of fun strolling from stall to stall, the food was just like at home and I even had a friendly chat with the German stallholders. What more could I ask for? Maybe some snow for our visit next year!
Disclosure: I was given £50 to spend at the Christmas market, but I would have bought the same things had I not been paid for this review. I just can’t walk past chocolate pineapples and caramelised almonds. Try it, you’ll see what I mean!