On the morning of the second day of the Christmas holidays we packed our gifts, the suitcase and equipment for filming, and on top of this mountain of things we threw the new mint trolley of Miłka – an ecological greentom – and… Auf geht’s!
A few hours later, just after dark, we were cruising nicely along the main street of the capital of Saxony, expecting the wondrous magic of Christmas. And we were trying to spot the legendary Striezelmarkt – the oldest Christmas fair not only in Germany (this year held for 581st time!) but also in the whole the world. And spotted it we did. Closed.
Then we learned that the Christmas markets have already ended and would reopen in the New Year Day. Alas, we could not stay that long. We didn’t expect this cultural collision at our closest neighbors’. It turns out that what kicks off on Christmas Eve in Poland, and starts gathering momentum, ends in Germany. (Just to be sure, I checked with the Warsaw’s Old Town market, which happily continued to operate during all the Christmas days and later)
Facts & Tips
The Striezelmarkt opens its doors on November 26, and closes on December 24th at 14:00. On week days the stands open at 10AM and close at 8PM (at 9PM on Fridays and Saturdays). During the opening ceremony of the fair, the 14-meter Christmas pyramid (highest in the world), is set in motion and the Great Dresden Christmas Strudel is cut to pieces and distributed (it is the mysterious ‘striezel’ that gave the name to the fair!)
Fortunately, it turned out that one of the fairs would open its gates on December 27 morning. Lucky us! We drove there asap and… moved in time!
The fair called Stallhof takes place in the former royal stables of the Dresden princes at the Dresden Castle, and it is wide-famous for its fantastic medieval styling. There was the legendary mulled wine, and heated cider (non-alcohol version for children, don’t be terrified while watching the film☺). There were traditional Christmas snacks, traditional crafts and really great concerts on stage. And although you need a ticked to enter it, this market is absolutely worth visiting. Great time!
Facts & Tips
The Stalhoff market is not so easy to find because it is located somewhere within the recesses of the Dresden castle areas; the entrance is in the Schloßstraße, where the street enters the body of the castle, there are arcades and – going towards the Elbe River – on the right, you have to go through the colonnade – there is the ticket booth there and the entrance guarded by the “men in tights” and with halberds. The exit gate (through which you also can enter back, once you get a stamp ink mark impressed on your hand) is from the Schössergasse. The ticket costs € 3 for adults and € 2 for the first child (all the next ones enter for free).
Facts & Tips
At the fair there are several points where you can buy mulled wine served in cool occasional cups. And you need to pay the deposit for those cups. A cup of Glühwein costs € 3 and while buying it for the first time, you need to pay the deposit fee of further € 3 per cup. But the cup can be filled in each booth at the fair – with no more bail. Finally, the cup can be either returned with the deposit cashed back, or held and taken home as a very nice souvenir 🙂 We followed the latter scheme!
The remnants of the Christmas aura can also be found on the Neumarkt in the neighborhood of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche). There was a Christmas pyramid there, one could also have a cup of good mulled wine and enjoyed the live music. It was really nice to stay there.
Fairs have been known since the Middle Ages. Initially, these were the annual fair, where you could stock up on a variety of miscellaneous – and hence their name ‘Jahr Markt’ (‘jarmark’ in Polish).
Well, as said at the beginning, we missed the opportunity to see the legendary Markets of Dresden at full throttle and maximum glory, still we got the flavor anyway (both: figuratively and literally, because, as for the delicious Dresden’s strudel, we got to it and were eating it up to the brim – yummy, believe us!).
And since the Striezelmarkt has been organized every year for almost six hundred years (the first one took place in 1434!), there is a great chance it will be there next year, too. So… Auf Wiedersehen!