24 hours in Stuttgart
Today my favourite Christmas market opens in the small German town of Stuttgart. If you are looking for a last minute city-break then this is a festive treat that I thoroughly recommend. We arrived in Stuttgart around midday on a cold day in late-November 2014. Before booking the flight I have to admit that I had never heard of Stuttgart and so it was never on the list of places that I wanted to go. That being said, I LOVE Christmas markets and when we decided to tour Germany’s Christmas markets as part of our honeymoon, Stuttgart was high on the list of recommended spots to check out. It is one of Germany’s oldest and largest Christmas markets offering five pedestrian only cobbled squares full of family friendly feasting and frolicking.
For me the magic of the Christmas market is at night so as we arrived mid afternoon we needed to find something to do until darkness descended and the merriment could be made. We decided to go to the local museum and it was surprisingly modern and well equipped. It certainly kept us engaged for the few hours we strolled among the exhibits. We left the museum to check into our hotel and here we were told that the area was popular for motor racing and that Lewis Hamilton had just left town. It turns out that the name Stuttgart is from a time when it was a site for breeding cavalry horses (Stud Yard). The emblem of Stuttgart is a prancing horse- you may have seen it on the centre of the Porsche logo. You see, the Porsche headquarters are in Stuttgart, along many other prominent car manufactures. In fact, Karl Benz invented the first car and motorcycle in Stuttgart, hence why some people call it the cradle of the automobile. Who knew!
The hotel was a mile out of town and in the grey light of November, the buildings at times looked a little intimidating and formal. We exchanged some nervous glances as we edged our way through office blocks on the way to town. Had we made a mistake? Thankfully No, we arrived to the sight of a miniature steam train railway taking small children on the laps of giddy parents around the market. The air was filled with smells of delicious food and everyone had big smiles under red noses as they sipped on mulled wine. Listening to the accents I think we may have been the only English people there. This felt like a local market and a best kept secret. There was the standard ice rink and sellers you would expect to find but the atmosphere was different to all other Christmas markets I had been to. It was authentically friendly and simply joyous, with each stall competing to be the most beautifully decorated. It was quiet in the market but this may have been as it was at the very start of the season so there was space to wander round each stall and the locals hadn’t grown frustrated on their commutes so instead revelled in the chance to have a stein or two on the way home from work. As we wandered around the cobbled squares we stumbled across a massive tee-pee with fur lined communal benches and fire-pits in the centre. It was warm and inviting and honestly I could have spent a long time just in there. The rest of the market was just as inviting just not as warm! Later in the evening we saw a choir in the courtyard of the Old Palace and sipped on Glühwein while the familiar music was sung in unfamiliar tongue.
We filled our bellies with market treats and even bought a bottle of local made schnapps to warm our cockles on that cold November as we giddily walked back to our hotel. Stuttgart will forever remain in my memory as an extremely happy place to be. Thoroughly recommend you follow your curiosity here. I’ve found return flights for less than £100 just sayin…