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A Christmas Market to Remember
Since 1972, Munich's city center has hosted the Christkindlmarkt -- literally, "Christ Child Market." However, the tradition dates from centuries earlier. Depending on who you ask, this festival may have started as early as the fourteenth century; the first recorded "Nicholas Market" in the history of Munich took place in 1642, in the Kaufingerstraβe, near the Frauenkirche ("Church of our Lady"). At the first market, among the items for sale were gingerbread, cotton clothing for children, Nativity statuettes, chimney sweets made out of almonds and plums, among other goods. The festival took on the name "Christkindlmarkt" in 1806. Today, the primary organizers of the event are the Munich Tourist Office.
Every year, Christkindlmarkt runs from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. Weekdays and Sundays, the festival opens at 10:00 A.M. and runs until 8:30 P.M., closing at 7:30 on Sundays. On Saturdays, the festival runs from 9:00 A.M. until 8:30 p.m. The only exception is Holy Night, when the festival only runs from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Every day that the festival runs, there is a musical program at 5:30 P.M.
Tourists should know that the traffic associated with Christkindlmarkt is atrocious. However, there is an excellent public transportation system that can get you around the festival with little or no fuss. The Christmas Market is in full swing just a few feet away from the entrance to the Marienplatz U-Bahn (subway) stop, and bus routes 52 and 131, as well as the #19 tram, stop right at the Marienplatz. There are subway stops further out that offer park-and-ride service.
Here are some helpful links, should you decide to give the Christkindlmarkt a try: