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Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

West Hartford...
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Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

Our daughter will turn three this year, and we are considering beginning a tradition of visiting Christmas markets, perhaps every other year. It makes the most sense to start with one that's well geared towards smaller children. Because she's young, and the way our timing works, we'll only have a few days to make the trip - four or five days on the ground. So we'd like to find probably two or three relatively close together. My wife has been to the major tourist sites in Germany and Austria, but I never have. Any suggestions for markets well suited to small children?

Bonus difficulty (and the main thing that makes this different from other similar questions): My wife is allergic to wheat, so it'd certainly be a plus if a recommendation accounted for a wide range of food options, but we can get around this if necessary.

Thanks!

Frankfurt, Germany
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1. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

Don't do it!

Christmas Markets tend to be so over crowded and it is no fun for a small child being stuck between hundreds of adults without seeing anything at all.

Karlsruhe, Germany
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2. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

I'd like to differentiate a bit - crowds are not that bad all the time, there are certain peak times and there are quieter times. But whichever market you pick, avoid the weekends, especially Friday evenings and Saturdays, altogether. Go during the week, and go in the middle of the day in order to avoid the worst crowds.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

The Stuttgart Christmas Market ( www.stuttgart-tourist.de ; www.stuttgarter-weihnachtsmarkt.de latter only in German) besides being one of Germany's largest, oldest, most visited, and most beautiful ones has made great efforts in recent years to avoid overcrowding and have been quite successful in this regard. Because it takes up a good share of contiguous central Stuttgart, there is no real need to enter the most crowded area on the Marktplatz in front of the Rathaus if it is crowded. There is a children's area of the market on the Schlossplatz with rides including a real minature steam engine train, and an ice skating rink where small children can push around penguins or dwarfs to keep their balance.

As to food at the market, there is food of all varieties from the traditional German items, Swabian items, oriental food, mackerel on a stick, salmon cooked on wooden planks in front of a wood fire where you can eat in a teepee with a fire and reindeer hides to keep warm, Swiss food, etc. Basically, there is a microcosm of different types of places to eat of all kinds. Otherwise, there are many nearby restaurants of all types to eat at.

Oh, Stuttgart also hosts the world's largest Christmas Circus if that would interest you, www.weltweihnachtscircus.de .

For other ideas of things to see and do in and around Stuttgart, have a look at what I wrote in #1 of tripadvisor.com/…49932873 .

Las Vegas, Nevada
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4. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

As to crowds, although the Stuttgart Christmas Market gets over 4 million visitors, if you visit when it first opens at 10 or 11AM, you can be almost the only visitor there. I've tested visiting even at peak hours and in recent years found the crowds mangeable.

Frankfurt, Germany
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5. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

You did, as a grown man.

Try to see it from the position of a 3 yrs old child.

Karlsruhe, Germany
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6. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

Small town markets will be easier to handle than big city markets. All of them have some activities and attractions for small kids. I'd suggest the Ore Mountains in Saxony, Germany's Christmas country with its unique local traditions. Places like Annaberg-Buchholz, Schwarzenberg, Schneeberg, Seiffen etc. You are also more likely to have snow and real winter up there than in the big cities in the lowlands - think playing in the snow, a bit of tobogganing and such. Besides, in the wider surroundings of Dresden I'd like to mention Meißen, Görlitz, Bautzen. All of these are atmospheric, authentic old towns with a special flair.

Dresden itself, however, if you want to visit the famous Striezelmarkt, should really be done on a weekday in the late morning/early afternoon.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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7. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

#5 I've taken my young grandchild there with no problems. Being spread out over four squares and connecting and adjacent streets, avoiding crowds there is no problem, you can still easily visit parts of the market on the edges even if it's extremely crowded. Then like I said, you can visit when the market first opens and probably for another hour or two and almost be the only ones there which is great for shopping, but isn't as enjoyable as when there are more people present giving it a nicer atmosphere. Having recently lived a few blocks away for over 8 years, I've visited it at least 100-200 times, and always was a frequent repeat customer for that salmon cooked on the wooden planks. One of my greatest pleasures was seeing young children enjoy the Christmas Market with smiles on their faces, and there are plenty of them, so it is nowheres as bad as you make it sound. I've rarely seen a child that looked like (s)he was not enjoying it.

Frankfurt, Germany
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8. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

My parents live in Stuttgart and I can tell you that the Christmas Market was no fun with my son when he was smaller (he's 9 now).

We never got further than Schlossplatz because it became too crowded for him. (Special greetings to our friends from Switzerland who stampede across the town like a herd of elephants)

Edited: 01 February 2014, 23:16
Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

Even school groups of young children visit the market. Probably your experiences were before they made recent succesful efforts to reduce the congestion. Also, those school children visit during the day and before mid-afternoon when the market is least congested, often even on weekends, perhaps you chose a weekend or evening? But if you are coming from the train station, the congestion is along Koenigstrasse before you get to the market with people shopping in the stores. If you enter from Charlottenplatz in the east by Karlsplatz, there won't be any congestion, and you can enter the market easily especially on the side streets alongside the Markthalle which also host parts of the market inclkuding the animals.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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10. Re: Best Christmas markets with a 3 year old

Oh, I never walk along Koenigstrasse before Christmas if it's in the afternoon because of all of the shoppers. There are no crowds a block over in the palace grounds or the street parallel to it on the other side. From the train station walk through the palace grounds and enter the Christmas Market at the Schlossplatz, either by continuing straight south past the front of the New Palace or going over to the west at Bolzstrasse(?).