Even after five years of meeting friends for evenings out and picking up the odd mug of steaming Glühwein to warm my hands walking home from running errands, there were still things that managed to surprise me at our home Christmas market. It wasn't until year three that I discovered Glühbier (the Schwarzwaldhaus stall, just off from the stage), a hot and sweet cherry-flavored beer. Just this year, I realized that all those people holding what I thought were mugs of hot orange juice - which always seemed like such a waste of a hot drink at a fest, if you ask me - were actually drinking Sanddorn Grog, a light, slightly fruity and slightly spicy kind of hot alcoholic drink that has now become one of my favorite alternatives to the heavy, spicy Glühwein. Conveniently, at the same stall (directly in front of the Marktkirche, if you're looking) this season I also discovered Lebkuchen waffles, which are like heaven, hot off the waffle iron, dusted with ample powdered sugar and washed down with the not-too-sweet Sanddorn Grog. So lecker!
So I know I'm biased, and I still have a lot of major German Christmas markets to discover - like Munich, Hamburg and Nuremberg, most notably - but Wiesbaden will probably always be one of my favorites. There are bigger markets, like the sprawling one in Düsseldorf, and themed markets, like the medieval section of the one in Erfurt, and overly-touristy markets, like the one here at Alexanderplatz, but Wiesbaden's has it all: the setting surrounded by stunning old architecture, the abundant food and drink options beyond just Glühwein and Wurst, that it is big but not so big you get lost in it. But most of all, for five years, it was home. I think I know where we'll be headed back to for next year's Christmas markets...
open daily from late November until December 23