Imperial City Days In Rothenburg Reichsstadt Festtage Events Guide - What To Expect
Imperial City Days In Rothenburg Reichsstadt Festtage Events Guide - What To Expect

The Rothenburg Christmas Market:

When Is It: November 29th-December 23rd, 2019.
Market Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11am-7pm; Friday-Sunday: 11am-8pm.
2019 Event Schedule: Four-week-long festival with a grand opening the evening of the first Friday of Advent followed by daily live music, special concerts, food, drinks, and shopping.
: Events center around Market Square, but extend to the surrounding Herrengasse, Town Hall Gallery, Grüner Markt, and Kirchplatz.
Cost: All events are free to attend (excluding special concerts).
Name Of The Festival In German: Rothenburger Reiterlesmarkt which means Rothenburg Rider’s Market after the famous horsemen figure.
Fun Scale10 out of 10.

What Is The Advent Market?

Imperial City Days In Rothenburg Reichsstadt Festtage
Imperial City Days In Rothenburg Reichsstadt Festtage

Since the 1400s, Rothenburg has been the home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in all of Europe, not to mention one of the very best to visit.

During the festival, you can experience fun.

Helpful Tips For The Rothenburg Christmas Market:

1. Book Your Hotel Early: The village of Rothenburg is one of the most popular Christmas destinations in Europe and it has a limited supply of hotel rooms so you have to book far in advance.  To fully enjoy the atmosphere, after dark activities, and have flexibility in your daily schedule, you need to stay here overnight.  Finding a hotel room anywhere in town at the last minute is not very common and if you wait too long you may find yourself staying in villages over 10 miles away so book ahead.  Our two favorite places to stay are the Imperial Kitchen Master Hotel (website) and Hotel Eisenhut (website).

2. Dress For The Weather:
You will be surprised that snow during the Rothenburg Christmas Market is actually not that common and many years you are more likely to have rain if anything.  Average temperatures are typically around 40F (4C) during the day and 32F (0C) at night, but unless it is windy it can feel warmer with all of the walking you’ll be doing and hot drinks you’ll be having.

To help yourself plan correctly, make sure to check the forecast for your trip while you pack and again before you leave.  For most visitors, your packing should including a nice wool or medium warmth winter coat (no snowsuits), a stocking cap, scarf, light to medium gloves, and travel umbrella (just in case).  You won’t need to bring bulky winter snow boots, but insulated hiking boots or comfortable Sorels that keep your feet dry and pack easy plus some wool socks are important.  If you like to pack lightly like us, you should bring disposable toe and warmers with you depending on the forecast.  There are also tons of stands and shops in Rothenburg that sell high-quality wool hats, gloves, and coats that make for great souvenirs.

3. Visit Käthe Wohlfahrt Early:
The famous Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store and German Christmas Museum reach a godly level of popularity during the Advent season, so you need to go early in the day.  The mega-sized Christmas paradise opens at 9am (2 hours before the market) so the crowds are much smaller early, but long lines form by mid-day.  Starting here right after breakfast helps you to avoid the chaos and long waits so you can slowly enjoy your shopping.

4. Explore the Daily Schedule:
The schedule for the four-week-long festival remains pretty consistent each year, but it does vary from day to day.  Some of the live music events only last for 30-60 minutes at a time so double checking the schedule is a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything at the Rothenburg Christmas Market.  While there is a lot to do any day of the week, there are also some activities which we highlight below that are only available on weekends or even just one day a week.

5. Take A Break:
The Christmas Market goes from 11am to 7 or 8pm every day which can lead to a long time on your feet.  Starting early is nice to beat the crowds (especially on weekends), but you need to make sure to give your feet a rest at some point.  This can be in the form of a long relaxing lunch with time to enjoy it or an afternoon rest in your room.  Visiting interior of Saint James Church with its stunning altars also offers a lot of benches and pews to rest your feet.  What you don’t want to do is push yourself through for 6 straight hours on your feet and then be too tired to enjoy the village in the evening as it beautifully lights up after dark.

If you feel like powering through the whole day then at least consider avoiding the peak afternoon crowds in the Market Square and visiting either the Medieval Crime Museum or Rothenburg Museum as a mini break.  You’ll find that these two museums have very light to manageable crowds during the Advent season.

Top Things To See At The Christmas Market:

1. The Christmas Atmosphere:

About The Opening Ceremony: Appearance by the Rothenburg Rider.

Every day until December 23rd, there is a visit by Santa, live brass band music

2. Traditional Food & Drinks:

About The Opening Ceremony: White Mulled Wine (Weißer Glühwein), plus you get to keep the souvenir mugs.

Fränkische Feuerwurst (im langen kipfle) = 1/2 Meter long hotdog (in a long bun)

Vier Rotheburcher Würschtli = 4 sausage links

Bauernbratwurst (im kipfle) = brat in bun

Rindsbratwurst = beet; Wildschwein = wild boar pork

Käsespätzle = cheese noodles

3. Christmas Market Shopping:

4. Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Store & Museum:

About Käthe Wohlfahrt: Right in the heart of Rothenburg is the multi-level Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store containing the largest collection of ornaments in Germany.  The interior is designed to look you are walking in a Christmas village with houses as displays cases while a painted starry sky ceiling hangs above you.  A 2,700 square foot German Christmas Museum (Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum) sits above the main Käthe Wohlfahrt store and covers hundreds of years of holiday history.

The two other museums in town (Medieval Crime Museum & Rothenburg Museum) also typically have special exhibits during the Advent season.  These museums along with the one inside Käthe Wohlfahrt can be excellent rainy day activities if you run into poor weather during your Rothenburg Christmas Market visit.

Käthe Wohlfahrt Website: (HERE).  Christmas Museum Website: (HERE).

5. Outdoor Glühwein Garden:

6. Opening Ceremony (1st Friday Evening):

About The Grand Opening: An appearance by the Rothenburg Rider, tree lighting, and music.

7. Live Music Performances:

About The Live Music: Almost every day at 3 & 6:30pm there is coffee time with free piano music at Hotel Eisenhut a block from the Market Square.  On Sat & Sun afternoons there is live brass band music in Market Square and Sunday mornings there is also a Christmas concert sung off the balcony of Town Hall.  At Saint James Church (Saint Jacobs) there are 30-minute organ performances on Saturday at 6pm and also various choir and orchestra events.

8. Living Advent Calendar:

About The Living Advent Calendar: One of the more overlooked elements of the Rothenburg Christmas Market is the Living Advent Calendar that takes place daily at the Town Hall.  Each evening at 5pm from December 1st-23rd, a new decorative window pain on the front side of Town Hall is lit up to help count down the days of Advent.

9. Town Hall Tower Climb (Saturday & Sunday):

10. Themed Walking Tours:

About The Themed Tours: Every day at 2pm there is a city run guided tour in English that leaves from Market Square.  7:15pm Ghost Tour in English.  8pm Nightwatchmen Tour.  At 6pm most Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a Walburga Handcrafter’s Widow Tour, but it is usually in Germany only.

8. Craftsmen & Baking Demonstrations (Various Days):

About The Craft Demos: On Sat & Sun mornings you can join in on making chocolate treats with Allegra-Schokolade. On Friday-Sunday in the mornings, you can join in on making personalized ornaments by Gosbert Stark.

Käthe Wohlfahrt Website: (HERE).  Christmas Museum Website: (HERE).