Updated October 25, 2023 | Original Post December 19, 2022
On our first Summer in Europe (2019), we took a cruise around Western Europe. One of the nights we had dinner reservations on the ship, we were paired with a lovely couple from Dresden. Dresden has never been on our radar, so we were intrigued to hear more about this city in Germany.
The couple talked highly about their beloved city, specifically how Dresden holds one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. Once we heard this, we added Dresden to our bucket list of Christmas Markets to visit. Three years later (2022), we finally made it to Dresden for the holidays! Let me tell you, the Christmas Market did not disappoint! Here’s our guide to Dresden’s Christmas Markets and how it holds one of the oldest Christmas Markets to date.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase the items linked in this post, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read my disclaimer. Thank you for your support!
Dresden’s Christmas Market History
Located along the Elbe River Valley, Dresden is known as the “Florence of the Elbe” or Elbflorenz. It is the capital of the Saxony region of Germany and is known for its classical music history and baroque charms, evident throughout the city.
As the holidays approach, Dresden becomes a magical city. The city is decked out in all the splendor of Christmas, from the many wooden market stalls ready for visitors to check out their goods to the homes and buildings in the city decorated with candles and schwibbogens on their windowsills made specially from the nearby Erzgebirge, Ore Mountains. Dresden is a sight to see!
According to historical records, Dresden’s Christmas Market started the Christmas Market tradition. On the Monday before Christmas in 1434, a one-day meat market was organized on the Altmarkt (Old Market) Square for those wishing to buy meat before the holidays. Every year since then, the tradition continued and grew to more than just a meat market. Therefore, the oldest Christmas Market in the world, known as Striezelmarkt in Dresden, was born.
Dresden’s Christmas Markets
The Christmas Markets are a big deal in Dresden. Not only does the city have one of the oldest Christmas Markets in the world, it has several markets within the city, all worth checking out. Here is a list of some of the Christmas Markets in Dresden.
As the oldest Christmas Market to date, since the 15th century, Striezelmarkt is the original of them all! Located on the Altmarkt Square (Old Market Square), the tradition remains alive after all these centuries! This one is the best one of them all, in my opinion.
Decked out in all its splendor, the Striezelmarkt is best known for its magical displays. It has the largest Christmas Wooden Pyramid in the world, standing 14 meters tall, a giant Christmas Tree, and over 230 wooden stalls scattered on this square. It’s also the perfect Market to buy authentic local gifts, especially ornaments and pyramids made from Erzegebirge of the Ore Mountains, and local market delicacies are just an added bonus.
Fun Fact: wondering where the name Striezelmarkt comes from. The name originates from the famous, traditional Stollen pastry, the world-famous Dresden Striezelmarkt.
The Striezelmarkt is a sight to see both day and night, but I highly recommend exploring the market in the evenings when the Christmas lights twinkle. The ambiance is even more special. If you want to get a great view from above the market square, visit the nearby Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) and climb the tower. The view from above is amazing! For more information on climbing the tower, you can find more here.
Tip: The Striezelmarkt does get busy during the weekends. The best time to visit is during the weekdays and/or during the day. The evenings are also worth the visit to see the Christmas lights.
Practical Information about Striezelmarkt Christmas Market
When: November 29 – December 24, 2023
Daily: 10am to 9pm
Opening day (29 November): 4 to 9pm
Christmas Eve (24 December): 10am to 2pm
Advent auf dem Neumarkt
My next favorite market in Dresden, after the Striezelmarkt, is the Advent auf dem Neumarkt. Just directly across from the Frauenkirche is one of the most traditional markets in Dresden (besides the Striezelmarkt). This Christmas Market depicts what a Christmas Market would have looked like hundreds of years ago in front of the Frauenkirche. The crafts and gifts made here are quality handmade by historical guilds. We found beautiful pottery, hand-blown glassware, ornaments, and more. Walk along this market in the evening, and you’ll find that the ambiance is just as charming, much more authentic, and a bit quieter than your well-known Striezelmarkt. The large Christmas Tree that graces the market against the backdrop of the Frauenkirche, twinkling its lights against the evening glow of the night, is just truly magical. This market is also nicknamed the Advent market and the Market of Angels, where you’ll find locals dressed as angels walking around.
Note: this market ends December 24 and reopens December 27, 2023, until January 7, 2024. You can enjoy this market after Christmas and New Year’s.
Practical Information about the Advent auf dem Neumarkt
When: November 30, 2023 to January 7, 2024
Location: On the Neumarkt
Opening Hours: November 30, 2023 – December 23, 2023 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m
Closed December 24th, 2023 – December 26th, 2023
Opens back up December 27th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024, 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
with the following exceptions: 12/31/2023 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
01/07/2024 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m
Tip: If you want to stay overnight in the heart of the Christmas Market, but prefer a tad bit of quietness, I recommend staying at the Hilton nearby the Neumarkt. It’s the perfect spot to stay and still be within walking distance of the Altmarkt and Neumarkt. You can also enjoy the markets any time of the day staying nearby. Book way in advance to get better rates, this hotel books out easily. Book your stay, here.
Christmas Market at the Frauenkirche
Right next to the Christmas Market auf dem Neumarkt is the Christmas Market at the Frauenkirche. This is another traditional market near the Frauenkirche (The Church of Our Lady). This market is directly next to the Hilton hotel I mentioned previously. We had a direct view of the eight-meter-tall Christmas pyramid, the main attraction of this market, from our hotel room. You can find this market on Münzgasse just outside shops and restaurants. Traditional handmade crafts, pottery, glass ornaments, Vogtland lace, and local delicacies can also be found here, with 45 stalls lining the way. Grab the original Moravian Christmas Star here and come around 4 pm when Santa visits this market, distributing gifts to the children passing through.
Practical Information about the Christmas Market at the Frauenkirche
When: Nov 29 to Dec 24, 2023
Opening Hours: 10 am- 9 pm
The Christmas Market on Prager Straße lights up the streets with its Christmas light displays. It’s the perfect market near Dresden’s main shopping area. Stalls with specialty goods from the local and surrounding areas can be found here. Admire the 15-meter-high, lit Christmas tree, Santa’s house, and merry-go-rounds for the children near the center of the market (near Pullman Hotel).
Practical Information on the Winterlights of Dresden Christmas Market
When: November 30- December 23, 2023
Location: Prager Straße; in between the city center and train station
As the second-largest Christmas Market in Dresden, this market is known for its international flair. As you enter this market at Hauptstraße, on the other side of the Elbe River, you are welcomed with large white and golden pagodas. The Baroque Quarters, where the market is located, are decorated with stalls for visitors to stroll along and discover the delicacies and gifts from around the world, from the Goldener Reiter (Golden Horseman) to Albertplatz Square. A Ferris wheel welcomes visitors coming from the Elbe River at Goldener Reiter. Don’t miss the blue Christmas tree in the center of the market.
Practical Information about the Augustmarkt
When: Opens November 29, 2023 to January 7, 2024. The market is closed from December 24- December 26 and on January
Location: Hauptstraße between Goldener Reiter (Golden Horseman) and Gomondai-Platz
Opening Hours: Monday- Thursday 11am- 9pm
Friday 11 am- 10pm
Saturday 10 am- 10 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 9 pm
Mittelalter Weihnacht Stallhof Dresden
Another favorite market is the Medieval Christmas Market inside the stable yard walls of the Dresden Royal Palace. This Stable yard has been around since 1591 and is considered one of the few oldest tournament venues worldwide. Inside the yard, 50 wooden stalls are sprawled throughout, mimicking the markets that would have taken place during the Middle Ages.
This is authentic to its core, taking you back to the Christmas Markets during the Middle Ages. The locals dress in Medieval attire, showcasing medieval tools, gifts, food, drinks, wooden fire-heated tubs (I happen to have missed during our visit), and performances inspired by the Middle Ages. I really enjoyed walking around this market and experiencing the Medieval atmosphere at Christmas time.
Practical Information About the Mittlealter Weihnacht Stallhof Dresden
When: Opens November 29 to December 23, 2023; The Dresden Rauhnächte will follow after Christmas from December 27- December 30; and then will remain open January 2- January 6, 2024
Location: Stallhof Dresden near the Frauenkirche
Opening Hours: Daily from 11 am – 9:30 pm
Romantic Christmas Market
Small and romantic (like its name), this market is a quiet alternative to the rest. The setting is in the courtyard of the Taschenbergpalais, around the corner from the Striezelmarkt. It is charming and decorative; the ambiance is perfect for those looking to enjoy a quiet Christmas market setting.
Alpine Hut Magic on the Postplatz
This Christmas Market on the Postplatz has alpine huts at the city center for people to enjoy. There is a restaurant, an alpine hut bar, and curling track. This one is popular among the young crowd.
Souvenirs & Food
The markets all over Dresden is the perfect opportunity to buy unique gifts, souvenirs, and delicacies to take home. Among some of the gifts you can find are:
↠ handmade ornaments
↠ Wooden Toys
↠ Candle holders
↠ Hand blown Glass (Fraeunkirche Market)
↠ Wooden carvings, figurines, Schwibbogen (decorative Candle arches) from the nearby Erzgebirge Region
↠ Pflaumentoffel, find this little man made of dried plums. It is a symbol of Dresden’s Striezelmarkt and dates back to 1801. Sadly, I didn’t find this during my trip, but I didn’t look hard enough either. You can find the history of this little trinket here.
↠ Herrnhuter Sterne (Herrnhuter Stars) at the Frauenkirche Market- Foldable Moravian Christmas Stars, but the Herrnhuter is considered the original makers of these stars since over 160 years ago.
↠ Try the Stollen (a type of fruit bread), Dresden’s famous cake; find the history here. It’s what the Striezelmarkt is named after since it’s been baked in Dresden for as long as the Striezelmarkt has started.
↠ Try the Pulsnitzer Pfefferkuchen (gingerbread)
↠ Eierschecke (a regional cheesecake)
↠ Finally, don’t forget the mulled wine (gluhwein) at each market. Most markets have their own Christmas mugs you can collect when you pay the pfand (an extra deposit on top of your gluhwein price). You can also return the mug to receive your deposit back if you decide you don’t want to keep the mug.
Map of the Christmas Market in Dresden
With so many markets scattered throughout Dresden (and there are more markets I didn’t list in this blog post), you can’t go wrong with adding this beautiful city to your Christmas Market bucket list! Dresden has it all, including the oldest Christmas market to date! The Striezelmarkt alone is magical in its own way; the Neustadt and Frauenkirche add a touch of charm and quaintness to the more popular Striezelmarkt, and the Augustusmarkt and Mittelalter Weihnachtenmarkt give Dresden an even more wonderful, unique flair to all the rest.
Let me know if you have Dresden on your holiday bucket list; comment below! I promise it’s a good one! Until next time, friends! Happy Holidays! Bis zum nächsten Mal, Freunde! Schöne Ferien!