If I’m going to give this market its full name, you’ll be looking for the ‘Romantische Weihnachtsmarkt mit traditionellem Handwerkstreiben auf Schloss Thurn und Taxis’. In translation, that’s the Romantic Christmas Market with Traditional Handicrafts at the Thurn und Taxis Castle. Never let it be said that Germany doesn’t like its long titles!
I know it’s January and the time for visiting markets has long since gone – but there’s always next year (or rather, later this year) to plan for! I wanted to include the Regensburg Romantic Christmas Market in my series of market posts because it’s a bit special… Not only is it filled with genuinely unique things and the most delicious food, but it’s also the only market I’ve visited that I had to pay an entry fee for. Given that there’s so many Christmas markets in Germany during Advent, I thought I’d give you a bit of a look at what’s inside the gates.
The Entry Fee
It’s a little odd to find a market that has an entry price associated with it, especially here in Germany. This festive attraction is unique though. It happens to be located in the grounds of the Thurn and Taxis Castle, which I expect accounts for the cost. Side Note: I’d more accurately call it a Palace but the word Schloss can mean both. I’d expect a charge at a similar set up in the UK, so this isn’t all that bothersome to me. In fact, given that I really dislike crowds, the entry fee is actually a blessing in disguise!
The price for entry varies throughout the week. In 2017 it ranged from €4 on a Monday, €7 for the other week days and €9.50 on a Saturday and Sunday. Children aged between 6 and 16 are charged just €2. It’s also considerably cheaper if you arrive late in the evening, from 8 or 9pm. As this stuff is all subject to change, do check the prices and opening times on their website for yourself.
So why did I think the entry price was a blessing in disguise? Well arriving early on a Saturday meant the market was blissfully quiet. At least, as quiet as you can expect a Christmas market to be on a Saturday morning. The high price of entry at that time is clearly a deterrent to those that like to rock up and loiter about with just a drink.
The only negative I’d give it is that you’ll miss the ‘magic’ and ‘romance’ of the market during the day. Paths are lined with oil lamps, real fires are dotted around the grounds and as with everything, things always seem more wondrous in the dark and lit by crackling fires and coloured lights.
You’ll find wooden chalet style stalls bedecked with Christmas tree branches generously spread out throughout the grounds, with a mixture of crafts, food and drink all mixed together. There’s a lot to look at here that seemed unique to this Regensburg Christmas market too. From cow hide rugs and handcrafted metal worked pieces to wooden and traditional decorations.
Naturally you’ll find plenty of candles and holders, jewellery, lanterns, hats and gloves. There was even an alpaca wool crafted stall – with two live alpacas temporarily taking up residence at the Palace! As we approached they decided it was lunch time and went into their little stable to eat.
Stalls fill the palace courtyard too, surrounding a large Christmas tree as its centrepiece. Whilst during the day its just an extension of the external market, I can only imagine how pretty this would be at night when it’s all lit up. Check out Living In Cinnamon‘s blog post from 2016 for a better idea of how it looks at night!
There’s also a generous helping of interesting and quality food at this market too – so much so that I was happy to have paid the entrance fee just to eat from the vendors here!
We started off with Käsekrainer, a hot sausage filled with pockets of melted cheese. Do be careful though – when they’re hot, they’re liable to spit scorching oil when bitten!
You’ll find everything from smoked fish to roasted meats and a variety of potato dishes. Freshly fried Quarkbällchen generously coated in cinnamon sugar came out less like balls and more like an inflated Dali’s melting pocket watch. But they were fantastic. So good, actually, that there’s no photo of them. Strudel, kaiserschmarrn, apple fritters, nuts and more… The list goes on.
I think you could quite easily spend all day eating and not get through everything on offer here. It’s basically the perfect kind of market for me! I did manage to find space for this Käsebrot mit Speck though. Cheese, bacon and a fennel seed studded bread. Hot, crisp and really very tasty.
From 5pm the Feuerzangenbowl makes an appearance but if you’re an early visitor, you’ll still have plenty of options. From basic Glühwein to more local mixes and variations. Don’t worry if you’re alcohol free, there’s always a ‘Kinder’ (children) friendly drink around. A restaurant chalet offered coffee, a variety of herbal teas and hot chocolate – though don’t be surprised to see hot chocolate pimped up with Eierlikor or rum.
We stopped for a hot mead (Met), deliciously honey sweet and it’d be the perfect drink if you’re visiting with a slight cold! Sitting on a sheltered bench, sipping our hot honey drinks and people watching is a brilliant way to spend a little bit of time. You’d be surprised at the strange things you see…
The Health and Safety
Which leads me to the last bit of this post. I really can’t finish it off without mentioning the very German approach to health and safety here.
The photo above was taken whilst we were drinking our mead… We saw a woman almost drop her paper bag into the fire, she stood so close. A child felt quite free to walk up and try to poke a stick in – and then people seemed confused when they saw a bench but couldn’t sit on it. Just look at the leg space!
Mini metal braziers in the middle of paths provide not only warmth but a unique opportunity to burn yourself and the metal worker (below) had no qualms about going about his work within easy reach of market goers.
This isn’t a criticism at all. It’s one of the features that makes German markets (and festivities in general) so appealing. They’re not sanitised for the sake of it, they’re not beholden to the fear of someone getting injured and suing. These events would lose part of their rustic charm and quaint, quirky appeal if the authorities insisted on baby-proofing everything like the UK does. As a Brit walking around these events, it’s particularly fun to see things my brain instantly recognises as dangerous be so commonplace. They’re still dangerous… it’s just no one seems to care!