Hamburg’s Christmas markets 2016: traditional and nostalgic or colourful and cool

On Monday, 21 November, the 16 Christmas markets in Hamburg’s city centre are opening their gates to the public – contributing to Hamburg’s fame as the north German Christmas capital. No other German Christmas destination offers more variety, ranging from sophisticated and nostalgic markets such as that on the Rathausmarkt, or cool and erotic like the Reeperbahn market to the colourful gay/lesbian market in the district of St Georg and the exclusive market on the Jungfernstieg located directly on the Alster Lake.

The same Christmas routine again, just like in the years before? Not really. Hamburg’s Christmas markets are cool and bold, or nostalgic and romantic, or creative and arty – all depending on the scene and the location. Hamburg's diversity in Yuletide markets is simply unparalleled and attracts over six million visitors every year.

Romantic minds and lovers of the traditional Christmas market will feel at home at the historic Christmas market on the Rathausmarkt. Designed by Bernhard Paul, director of Circus Roncalli, this market offers not only quality arts and crafts and organic mulled wine, but also a flying Santa, who with his reindeer-drawn sled glides over the heads of the visitors three times daily. Moreover, in the late afternoon this market turns into Northern Germany’s largest “after-work party zone” (until 23 December, 11 am – 9 pm, Sat/Sun until 10 pm).

While the Christmas market in the heart of St Georg, also known as the Winter Pride market, may be less traditional, it is certainly most colourful and extravagant: Hamburg’s only gay-lesbian Christmas market offers not only a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, but also an area entirely free from traditional Christmas carols. Instead, there will be a varied music programme featuring renowned DJs, and each Sunday there will even be live performances by singer-songwriters from Hamburg (until 30 December, 12 pm to 10 pm, Fri/Sat until midnight). The Christmas market on the Fleetinsel and the “White Magic” Christmas market on the Jungfernstieg directly on the Alster Lake, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, offer a Christmas experience with a maritime twist (until 30 December, 11 am – 9 pm, Fri/Sat until 10 pm). Hamburg is still young when compared to traditional Christmas market destinations such as Nuremberg or Munich. After all, Hamburg has been marketing itself as a Christmas market destination for only 15 years – but this has proved to be highly successful.

Right next to the White Magic market, the fairy tale boats moored at the Alster jetty provide entertainment to small Christmas-market visitors with theatre, Christmas baking and a perfect view of the famous Alstertanne – Hamburg's tallest, festively lit Christmas tree in the middle of the Alster Lake.

Situated in Europe's largest inner-city development area, the modern HafenCity Christmas market in the Überseequartier attracts visitors from near and far with its unique port location and its own ice-skating rink (until 30 December, daily from 12 pm to 8:30 pm).

Less contemplative, but rather cheeky, cool and ironic: this is “Santa Pauli – Hamburg’s hottest Christmas market”. Located right in the Reeperbahn entertainment district, this market offers a somewhat alternative Christmas experience. Also this year, the Santa Pauli market was opened by Drag Queen Olivia Jones. Christmas time and a party atmosphere go hand in hand here – nightly strip shows included (until 23 December, Mon – Wed, 4 pm to 11 pm, Thur 4 pm to midnight, Fri/Sat 1 pm to 1 am, Sun 1 pm to 11 pm).

To learn more about Christmas in Hamburg as well as Hamburg’s other Christmas markets in the city centre, please visit


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