In December, Munich shimmers and slides in a race: small groups meet on the Nymphenburg Canal for curling. At the somewhat different "Pink Christmas" Christmas market, it's all about attracting attention and a relaxed get-together.
The classic among Munich's Christmas markets is the Christkindlmarkt around Marienplatz – the largest and most traditional in the city. Until Christmas Eve, there is Christmas music, high-quality handicrafts, mulled wine, roasted desert and roasted almonds in front of the illuminated backdrop of the town hall, the Frauendom and the church Alter Peter. And between the stalls, the huge Munich Christmas tree towers up.
Christmas market, 27 November to 24 December 2023, Marienplatz
At the "Night of the Proms" from 15 to 17 December 2023 in the Olympic Hall, classical music and pop sounds meet in a fascinating way. Famous musicians will sing their greatest hits from all possible genres and eras with symphony orchestras. Always with them: songs like "Music was my first love" and "Land of hope and glory".
Night of the Proms, 15 December to 17 December 2023, Olympic Hall
This is about style, about furnishing and the question: Are you still living or are you already living? The "Heim + Handwerk" trade fair at the exhibition centre is the largest of its kind in southern Germany and is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors with a good thousand exhibitors. They will find inspiration in the fields of furniture, crafts and the latest ideas of young designers. Experts will be on hand to provide advice on topics such as "Tiny Houses" or children's rooms that grow with their age.
Heim + Handwerk 2022, Munich Trade Fair Centre
... there is no way around the Glockenbachviertel. At the idyllic Stephansplatz the Christmas market "Pink Christmas" shows that Christmas does not always have to be traditional. Munich residents love the unusual atmosphere of pop music, a prosecco bar, travesty shows with Whitney Houston doubles, kitsch and pink plush. The fact that heterosexuals, gays and lesbians celebrate together here shows the respectful and self-evident living and letting live in the city. The proceeds will go to the AIDS relief organization and social projects in Munich, among others.
Pink Christmas, Stephansplatz
In keeping with the Advent season, the Munich Rudelsingen team welcomes all fans of the cult format with a pre-Christmas programme to sing along to. Favourite hits and the most beautiful Christmas songs from all over the world alternate, with the audience actively singing along. They are accompanied live by two to three musicians with piano, guitar and other instruments, and the lyrics are projected onto a screen.
Pre-Christmas Munich Rudelsingen, Gasteig HP8
The show palace is transformed into a wintry wonderland in which the boy Robert must reclaim his imagination on an adventurous journey. Of course, he has energetic and funny companions at his side: fairies, wizards and villains or majestic horses, sweet ponies and speedy trick riders. Music, stage design, colourful costumes, fire effects, stunts and a western number round off the programme.
Cavalluna WinterWünscheLand, Showpalast Munich in Fröttmaning
The best thing is to shoot straight away! Because too much ambition harms the pleasure, say the curling players on the Nymphenburg Canal. Here at the castle, beginners are just as welcome as advanced shooters when it's cold and the stream is frozen. Friends and family then try in teams on one of the 40 lanes with sticks (available for hire!) to get as close as possible to the stave. Great fun – and an ancient Munich tradition!
The Christmas markets in Germany are often called Christkindlmärkte – in Bavaria, it is the Christ Child, not Santa Claus, who delivers the presents. Every visit to a Christmas market requires the consumption of at least one cup of mulled wine with a shot. Even Christmas skeptics who are not familiar with the hustle and bustle of the silent Christmas celebration should find themselves in adventitious cheerfulness after the third cup at the latest. The medieval market on Wittelsbacher Platz offers a special variation with fresh mead. At the Isartor a huge cauldron of Feuerzangenbowle is simmering away. Glühbiere is served in Spöckmaier's Christkindl-Stube at Sternenplatzl. If you get hungry after so much enjoyment, a detour to Sendlinger Tor is recommended, where you can get the supposedly best bratwurst sandwich in town: The "Regensburg Special" is served with sweet mustard and horseradish. If you prefer vegetarian food, stop by one of the many food stalls on the Tollwood. Last-minute gift buyers will also find what they're looking for here, the selection ranges from caps to natural cosmetics, swings and metal art to musical instruments. And yes: if need be, there's plenty of mulled wine here too.
You don't even need music to find the ambience impressive. The Herkulessaal in the Residenz is one of the most beautiful halls in Munich: high ceiling, massive stage, lots of stone, tapestries with Greek motifs. The furnishings are quite stately, no wonder, originally the room was used by Ludwig I as a throne room. But when music is added, the whole magic of the Hercules Hall unfolds. The acoustics in the hall are excellent. The Christmas concerts are especially popular, they are aimed at the whole family, newcomers to classical music as well as connoisseurs. The festive finale is the joint singing of Christmas carols. Until the opening of the Gasteig in 1988, the Herkulessaal was the city's most important concert hall for classical music. It offers space for about 1400 people. Because the Residence was badly damaged during the Second World War, the Herkulessaal was rebuilt in 1953 in neo-classical style. Tickets are available at München Ticket, among others.
When Christmas approaches and the nights are dark, they come out of their hiding places again: evil spirits. At least that's what people used to believe – and invented the custom of the rough nights. Every evening they would smoke out their houses and stables in the hope of driving away the ghosts. The belief in smoking out has now evaporated, and the tradition has been preserved. A special highlight of the Rauhnächte nights are the so-called Perchtenläufe, in which people dress up as demons or witches. Under horrible wooden masks and shaggy skins they then make noise through the alleys at night. In Berchtesgaden, the haunted people are known as Buttnmandl and Kramperl. On the first Advent they walk through the district of Loipl during the Buttmandel walk, on the second through Winkl; on St. Nicholas Day they do their mischief after dark in almost all communities. With the Night of the Three Kings on 6 January the time of the rough nights ends.
You can find a detailed calendar of events here.