Holiday traditions: Frankfurt Christmas Market and more

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by Hertz - 21 October 2019

Christmas in Frankfurt is a magical time, when the streets glow and the whole city seems to come together to celebrate.

Home to one of the best Christmas markets in Germany – and even Europe – Frankfurt is a haven during the holidays, filled with good cheer, glistening lights and plenty of soul-warming seasonal delicacies.

Discover the best places to take your Frankfurt hire car this winter with our handy guide.

Frankfurt Christmas Market

For one of the oldest and biggest Christmas markets in Germany, make a beeline for St Paul’s Square (Paulplatz).

Frankfurt Christmas Market dates way back to 1393, and opens towards the end of November.

The main attraction is the array of colourful stalls filling the square, selling anything from traditional German Christmas decorations to delicate glass ornaments. On top of this, there’s also a great variety of food vendors offering up local and festive delicacies, such as wurst (sausages) and hot chocolate.

The market also upholds the Christmas spirit with live carols, church bells and a carousel, all nestled against the backdrop of the traditional timbered houses.

While most of the festivities are held in St Paul's Square, you’ll find more stalls near the River Main. Take time to wander and you’ll be rewarded with bright lights and sweet smells.

Ebbelwei Express

If you’ve parked up for the day, take a ride on the Ebbelwei Express tram. Although it operates year-round, it’s especially enchanting at Christmas time.

Known in English as the Apple Wine Express, this brightly coloured tram invites you to sit back and relax as it takes you through the streets of Frankfurt.

Lasting an hour, the journey includes the best of German music, a bag of pretzels and a refreshing glass of traditional apple cider made by the local winery Possman. If you want to feel like a true Frankfurtian, you can also opt for a Hessian dialect course while you ride.

The tram also allows you to take in the magic of Frankfurt at Christmas time, away from the crowds as you travel through Romerberg and Sachsenhausen.

Alte Oper

Frankfurt can reach as low as 0°C in winter, so seek warmth and entertainment with an evening at the enthralling Alte Oper opera house.

Originally built in 1880, it was destroyed in World War II and left derelict for almost 30 years. That was until restoration began in the ’70s after locals came together to raise the funds.

Now, it’s a shining beacon of Frankfurt’s community spirit, which is only amplified during the holiday season when its grounds are adorned with twinkling lights and grand Christmas trees.

Inside the theatre, there’s always something magical to see, from classical music – performed by the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra – to the opera house’s annual Christmas concert.


While a botanical garden may seem like an unconventional festive attraction, the Palmengarten transforms itself into a winter wonderland at Christmas.

During the day, wander the gardens, which are filled with beautiful colours from the various winter plants. Admire the vibrant poinsettias and sweet cyclamens and soak up the festive smells from the conifer trees towering above.

However, the real event happens when the sun goes down and the building is bathed in light. Enjoy an evening walk around its grounds to take in the sights and sounds of its winter lightshow and watch the different fauna glisten and gleam under a spectrum of colours.

The Pealing of the Bells

Head to Römerberg – home to the Römer city hall – on Christmas Eve to hear the Pealing of the Bells.

This special, half-hour event sees thousands of visitors and locals flocking to the square to hear 50 bells from 10 churches chiming in unison. Use the time to wander around Innenstadt, Frankfurt’s old town, to hear the unique sounds from each of the churches.

The weather can be frosty, so warm up with some hot chocolate or, if you’re not driving, traditional mulled wine, known as Glühwein, from one of the vendors.

If you’re not around for the holidays, you can still hear this delightful display at three other times during the year: the start of Advent on 1 December, the day before Easter, and the day before Pentecost.

Add a touch of magic to your Christmas celebrations with Frankfurt car hire.