One of the best times of the year to visit Frankfurt is during the Christmas market season, and this year the market is open 26 November until 23 December. After a full day of learnings at HP Discover 2012 in Frankfurt, 4-6 December, be sure to visit the famous Frankfurt Christmas market (weihnachtsmarkt) at the Römerberg, Paulsplatz und Mainkai (Main quay).
As well as its beauty—the stands are elaborately and creatively decorated and lights shimmer all around—the market is famous for its huge Christmas tree and the traditional glühwein, or mulled wine.
This year's tree is a towering 28 metres tall and weighs some eight tonnes! It will be festooned with more than 5,000 fairy lights and upwards of 400 ribbons.
Germany has a deep history with Christmas trees. In fact, the custom of decorating trees during this time of year can be traced to Northern Germany and Livonia. The first evidence of decorated trees is said to have occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 19th century, the Christmas tree was a popular part of German culture and German immigrants continued the tradition in their new home countries. German Confederation-born Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, popularised the Christmas tree tradition in the Royal households of the UK.
Another market tradition (perhaps because the temperature can dip to minus-1 degree Celsius (30 degrees Fahrenheit) is glühwein. A popular wintertime drink, glühwein translates as "glow-wine", from the hot irons once used for mulling. It is often prepared with heated red wine and herbs and spices, such as cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, and sugar. To get you in the mood before your trip to Frankfurt, try making some at home with this recipe. Be sure to pick up a keepsake glühwein mug at the market.
If time is short and you don't want to miss the best the market has to offer, be sure to take a guided tour. A guide will to take your tour group to the rooftop gallery of St. Nicholas Church, from which you'll see a panorama view of the entire market and the Frankfurt skyline. You can also ride on a vintage carousel—something that will be sure to get you in the Christmas mood. Oh, and you'll be able to get all your Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop!
The market opens Monday to Saturday, 10:00–21:00 hours. Sunday opening is at 11:00-21:00 hours.