Many visitors know Munich best for its annual Oktoberfest, drawing millions of visitors from around the world to drink beer and dance to polka bands. But Munich lives up to its legend as a fun-spirited city all year round, and that stays true during the Christmas season too.
After a brief pause to recover from Oktoberfest, the party spirit returns in late November. Elaborate Christmas markets pop up across the city, beer halls are decked with holly, restaurants sparkle with their best holiday finery and the lebensfreude—the zest for life—that Bavaria is known for reverberates throughout the city’s gleaming streets.
Christmas Markets & Holiday Festivities
Once home to medieval markets and tournaments, Marienplatz has served as the city’s central square since 1158 and boasts the city’s oldest and largest Christmas market, making it the perfect place to kick off your Christmas in Munich. Perfect for groups, Marienplatz offers a mini crash course in the city’s history: the 15th century Old Town Hall, the New Town Hall, St Mary’s Column and the Glockenspiel are all within its confines. Make sure to be on the square by 11 am or at noon, when the Glockenspiel puts on its famous spectacle of dancing and jousting figurines set to music. If you want to hear the soundtrack to Christmas in Munich, then head to the town hall for the Advent Music Festival. Here brass bands and choirs will play and sing live from the balcony every day from 5.30pm all through December until Christmas Eve.
Germany’s Christmas markets are legendary, and Munich does not disappoint, with nine themed markets to explore. History buffs won’t want to miss the Middle Ages Christmas Market at Wittelsbacherplatz, while those in search of a beer garden atmosphere should head to the romantic Chinese Tower Christmas Market. Set in the idyllic English Garden, this is Munich at its most charming. Other top choices include the Christmas village at the Munich Residenz, with local delicacies and kitschy displays on offer, as well as the Haidhauser Christmas Market, the favourite of many locals and a good place to shop for traditional Tyrolean and Bavarian artisan crafts.
Whichever one you choose, make sure to arrive hungry. Each market offers a tempting mix of regional food traditions, from bratwurst and gingerbread to glühwein (mulled wine) and flammkuchen, a wood-fired flatbread that originates in the Alsace region.
Christmas Parties in Munich
If you’re looking for authentic Christmas parties in Munich, then make sure to order roasted goose, usually served with potato dumplings and often a baked apple, it remains Bavaria’s most traditional holiday dish, and you’ll find it served at many of Munich’s historic restaurants and beer gardens. Enjoy Bavarian specialities under soaring stone arches in the circa-1874 Rathskeller, conveniently located on Marienplatz, or head to Welser-Kuche, a Middle Ages-themed restaurant that playfully transports guests to the kind of elaborate festival meal enjoyed by the bourgeois in the 15th century. Sip honey mead and ale from earthenware cups as costumed servers regale you with live music and entertainment.
With its elegant private dining rooms, leafy beer garden and the 700-seat festival hall that has entertained guests since 1589, the Munich Hofbräuhaus is a true bucket-list destination with tons of convivial atmosphere perfect for Christmas parties in Munich. Expect traditional dishes like suckling pig and kaiserschmarrn, a caramelised pancaked named after Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, all served against a spirited backdrop of live music, with servers decked out in traditional costumes, and free-flowing beer.