In a country famous for its Christmas markets, the Reiterlesmarkt in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria sparkles brighter than all the rest. This picture-perfect walled town, which wouldn’t be out of place on any Christmas card, celebrates Advent in style and has done so since the 15th century.
The highlight of the month-long celebration is the arrival of the Reiterle (or horseman). Said to be an otherworldly visitor who glides through the sky on with the souls of the dead in tow, the Reiterle was once feared by locals but is now welcomed as a harbinger of Christmas cheer.
Streets and squares are lined with stalls selling traditional crafts and all sorts of gifts. With guided tours, Christmas concerts, chocolate-making workshops and even a daily visit from Santa Claus, there are sackfulls of things to see and do. Brass bands playing festive music liven up the medieval streets and food and drink such as mulled wine, sausages and the traditional deep-fried pastry schneeballl is plentiful. There’s even a Christmas Museum where visitors can learn about the history of German Christmas traditions and see how Christmas decorations have changed through the centuries.