Dresden Local Customs

  • St. Nick at the Market near the Frauenkirche
    St. Nick at the Market near the...
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  • Stollen strall at the Hauptstrasse market
    Stollen strall at the Hauptstrasse...
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  • Stadtfest stage in front of Semperoper.
    Stadtfest stage in front of Semperoper.
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Most Recent Local Customs in Dresden

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    Christmas market Loschwitz

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    Out of the smaller Christmas markets in the residential areas of Dresden I want to mention only this one, which is among my absolute favourites. It takes place at Friedrich-Wieck-Str. in Dresden-Loschwitz (from Körnerplatz down toward the Elbe river) and is organised by the local association "Elbhangfest e.V." (They organise the big festival Elbhangfest in June, too.)

    This market has a special charm alone because of the setting along the hundreds of years old timber-framed houses with artisans' shops in this area. Another plus is that it is organised by this neighbourhood association, seemingly everyone in the district seems to contribute. Thus the market is less commercial, more artsy, and you find things you rarely find elsewhere on Christmas markets. The Glühwein is fantastic (organic, too), ditto Bratwurst from the local butcher, the hot chocolate and pralines from the nearby chocolaterie are to die for, bakery Wippler across the street has excellent Stollen and yummy Vanillekipfel plus a cosy cafe to warm up yourselves. A visit after sunset is highly recommended, that's when the scene becomes picture-perfect, the locals show up after work and chat relaxed over a cup of Glühwein (pics 2, 3).

    Do not miss the cultural events/activities: Kids sing Christmas carols, a brass band (with members of the Staatskapelle Dresden who live in Loschwitz!) perform Christmas music, there are services and concerts in nearby Loschwitz parish church (pic 4).

    Last but not least you *must* take the suspension railway up to Oberloschwitz. Not only is this the first suspension railway in the world, but the view from the top is fantastic (pic 5, the market area/Körnerplatz at the bottom of the picture.) Also, there is a Christmas exhibit with nutcrackers and other (sometimes funny) Christmas figures in the viewing tower on top every year (until end of January.)

    Open from Saturday before 1st Advent to 3rd Advent, Mon - Thur 1 pm - 8 pm, Fri 1 pm - 9 pm, Sat 11 am - 9 pm, Sun 11 am - 8 pm.

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    Advent in the Neustadt district

    by german_eagle Updated Nov 3, 2013

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    Only in recent years the Neustadt district started decorating streets, windows of the shops and even organising a small Christmas market. It is getting better from year to year and - no surprise here - you can make funny discoveries in that area.

    The Inner Neustadt with the Baroque area around Königstraße and Rähnitzgasse gets some visitors from the quite large Augustusmarkt at Hauptstraße, so they decided to put up lights in the trees along Königstraße and tastefully, but not overly decorated their shop windows lately (pic 1).

    The Outer Neustadt, the vibrant party area of Dresden with lots of independent, alternatively living mostly young folks, has some decorations, too. And they have a small Christmas market at the crossroad Alaunstraße/Louisenstraße, on the small square in front of restaurant Scheune (pic 2, 3, 4). The funny name is "Neustädter Gelichter" - refering to the Christmas "lights" and at the same time ironically to the riffraff living (and visiting) in that area. If you look closely you may recognise the traditional Christmas item "Schwibbogen" (in English candle arch). However, here it is named "Schwipsbogen" (in English tipsiness arch) and full of funny folks (Gelichter) from the Neustadt: Punk and business man, kids with ball and bike, an elderly lady with walker, a pregnant young woman with a child, a musician ... the pedestal is decorated with a cat and dog (with dog-mess, of course :-)). The candle holders on top of the arch are in the shape of brandy glasses (hick ...). You can buy this Schwipsbogen - in a larger or small version. I own both :-)

    Of course they sell all sorts of Glühwein, hot alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, typical food ... products of local artisans. And if you are more into the traditional stuff then attend a Christmas concert in Martin Luther church around the corner.

    Open from Saturday before 1st Advent till 4th Advent, weekdays from 4 pm on, on weekends from 2 pm on - till late night.

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    Christmas market Hauptstraße

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    Most of the Christmas markets are on the old town side, but that does not mean the New Town (Neustadt) doesn't have any at all. There has been one for many years along the pedestrian shopping street Hauptstraße, under the sycamore trees - very romantic setting, but unfortunately the decoration of the stalls used to be uninspired. That has changed dramatically last year. An event/advertising agency developed a new concept, and it was immediately realised.

    The market is now named "Augustusmarkt", after the Golden Horseman statue, depicting Elector Duke August(us) the Strong, that is at the riverside entrance to the market. The stalls are now white tents, beautifully decorated now. The things sold are of higher quality than before, Christmas items, artsy candles, pottery, lace as well as typical food/beverages. One specialty is that you can get typical food and drinks from Dresden's sister cities all over the world in a large place near the Golden Horseman statue.

    The new Christmas tree in the middle of the street is unusual (pic 4): A construction in the shape of a deciduous tree, no leaves of course, lit up with ice-blue LED lights. Together with the white tents it creates an ambience like in a winter fairy tale. I expected an ice princess showing up every moment. Odd. I am still undecided whether I love it or hate it. LOL

    They kept up the co-operation with Dreikönigskirche right there. The church is open till early evening, you can climb the tower (views!) Also, the artisans' shops on the western side of the pedestrian zone Hauptstraße with their Baroque courtyards and townhouses are well worth visiting. Opposite Dreikönigskirche is (a bit in the back) on the eastern side of the street is the market hall from the early 20th century with many small shops - nicely decorated during Advent season and a great place to warm up (pic 5).

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    Christmas market Prager Straße

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    The first Christmas market that the visitor comes across upon arrival at the main railway station is the so called "Dresdner Winterlichter" market along Prager Straße, the pedestrian main shopping street of Dresden. The street was designed in the late 1960s in International style, thus the area lacks the historic, traditional charm. However, the market recently underwent a nice "facelift", and it found its fans - people who feel at home in the modern, cool-ish ambience of lounges and nightclubs and the mainstream pop-culture of our days.

    The stalls are quite traditional, wooden structures, but the "tree" is a modern light installment and there are international brands that advertise all over the place - Coca Cola truck etc. No worries, you also find the traditional food and beverages, Stollen, gingerbread and Glühwein here! Prices are even a bit lower than on Striezelmarkt.

    Stalls I like are the one of Ottendorfer Mühlenbäcker (fruitcake!), one that sells all sorts of fur products (slippers for home!) and several with wooden Christmas items from the Erzgebirge.

    Open Saturday before 1st Advent till 23 Dec, daily 10 am - 9 pm.

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    Christmas market by the Royal Palace

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    There is another, small Christmas market by the Royal Palace, on the tiny square off Schlossstraße - just a few steps from Striezelmarkt. It's only 15 stalls or so, but I like this one quite much. First off, it's not crowded - although it is right on the main tourist trail, so to speak. They use to give a quick look and then head to Striezelmarkt.

    There is a very good bakery stall here, by Ottendorfer Mühlenbäcker. They have a pretty good Christstollen and also yummy fruitcake with chocolate icing - the dough is lighter compared to the Stollen. Another stall has tasty cookies, yet another one pretty good punch. A few stalls sell wooden Christmas items of very good quality, also spare parts, so if a piece on your pyramid, candle arch or so is damaged you can look here for a replacement. Prices here are a bit lower than on Striezelmarkt.

    Open Friday before 1st Advent till Christmas Eve, Sun - Thur 11 am - 8 pm, Fri/Sat 11 am - 9 pm.

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    Medieval Christmas market in Stallhof

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    The former stables of the Royal Palace, a Renaissance courtyard with beautiful arcades and sgraffito decorated, are the place where another, themed "medieval", Christmas market is held. In the first years I loved this market for its charm, the romantic setting, for just being different - but lately I got tired of it. In reality this market is more a medieval market and less a Christmas market. The stalls with food/beverages, the craftsmen/artisans, the things on sale - they are available all year through on medieval markets and have very little to do with Christmas. Sure, there's Glühwein. But that's it.

    On weekends they do shows on the little stage, music and theatre plays. It also costs an entrance fee of about 3 Euro or so on those days. So I decided to have a stroll once or twice over that market every year, on weekdays of course, and that's it.

    Open from Wednesday before 1st Advent to Holy Eve, daily 11 am - 9.30 pm.

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    Christmas market an der Frauenkirche

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    The short little alley from Neumarkt square (Frauenkirche) leading down to the Elbe river, named Münzgasse, has another (sort of) Christmas market. Münzgasse is pretty touristy in summer, with one restaurant, bar and nightclub next to another, and it's the same or even worse in Advent/Christmas season. They put up some stalls along the sides there where they sell Christmas items and typical food/beverages and call it a Christmas market. Frankly, I'm not fond of that one. The crowds are too much. The stuff is more expensive than elsewhere. It lacks any charm. The only good thing is that it makes for nice photos, either from Brühl's terrace with the Fraunkirche in the background or with that oversized pyramid turned into a Glühwein place (pics 1, 4 and 5).

    Open from Friday before 1st Advent to Holy Eve, Sun - Thur 10 am - 9 pm, Fri/Sat 10 am - 11 pm and on Holy Eve 10 am - 2 pm.

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    Christmas Markt at Neumarkt

    by german_eagle Written Nov 3, 2013

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    Right in front of Frauenkirche, at Neumarkt square, is another Christmas market called "Advent auf dem Neumarkt". It is rather small, with about 40 stalls I guess, and it takes you back to the times around the year 1900. A wonderful ambience! Many craftsmen and artisans here, from woodcarvers over papercutter, glassblower, potter to chocolatier and many more. Of course you can get all the typical food, Glühwein etc.

    No recorded music here, there are musicians who walk around and make live music - singing, guitar, brass ... There is a crib depicting the Holy Land, with the figures of the Holy Family and living sheep, great for kids. No glaring light in many colours here, only mild yellow-ish natural light, mostly from Herrnhut stars.

    With the Frauenkirche towering up, the historic facades, the beautifully decorated stalls, the staff in traditional costumes (around 1900) and the atmospheric light, this is my favourite Christmas market in the city centre. I cannot wait for the remaining one side of Neumarkt square to be overbuilt so the whole scene becomes picture-perfect.

    This market is open from Friday before 1st Advent until 22 Dec from 11 am to 10 pm. They must clear the square from the stalls so early because on 23rd Dec at 5 pm the open-air Christvesper takes place there - not to miss either!

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    Advent - Christmas markets and more

    by german_eagle Updated Nov 2, 2013

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    I absolutely *love* Advent and Christmas, and Dresden is - next to the nearby Erzgebirge mountains - the perfect place to be during that time of year. There are several Christmas markets all over the city, the area between main railway station at the southern end of the Old Town and Albertplatz in the New Town is practically one single huge Christmas market. All of these markets have a different ambience, from old and traditional to modern and cool. But it's not just commerce - the markets do have a strong tie to the churches, theatres, the locals, to religious and cultural life in the city.

    There are many concerts in churches and other venues, both religiously and more pop-christmassy themed, theatre plays based upon stories by Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol), the inevitable Nutcracker ballet and the opera Hänsel und Gretel in the Semper Opera house, lots of performances of Christmas Oratorios (by J. S. Bach, but also by other composers), and so on. Not to miss are also the fantastic Christmas exhibits, in the Saxon Folk Art museum e.g. or in the Dresden City museum.

    Christmas items sold at the markets are practically 100% handmade in Germany. The Erzgebirge is near, the quallity of the manufactures there is appreciated in Dresden. Stars from Herrnhut, glass items from Lauscha/Thuringia and lace from Plauen are other favourite items to buy. As for food and beverages - Dresdner Christstollen is famous, No. 1 in the region. Check out gingerbread from Pulsnitz, Pflaumentoffel, Kräppele and of course Glühwein (mulled wine) from local wineries or Glühbier (mulled beer).

    It all leads to Christmas Eve with the festive Christvesper in the Kreuzkirche, a must for my family to attend every year. Other recommended Christmas services are at Christvesper at Frauenkirche and Mass at the catholic cathedral (Hofkirche), but the smaller churches also have memorable, very festive services.

    See the following tips for more detailed info, please.

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    Striezelmarkt

    by german_eagle Written Nov 2, 2013

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    Dresden's largest Christmas market is held on Altmarkt square and is called "Striezelmarkt" after the most famous food, the "Striezel" - which is a sort of fruitcake, a yeast dough with lots of butter, sugar, raisins, spicery (secret!). The market was first mentioned in 1434, thus it is one of the oldest in Germany, and very large with over 200 stalls, too. And IMO it is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets.

    It all starts with the opening procedure on Wednesday before 1st Advent. An oecumenic service in the Kreuzkirche, musically supported by the renowned boys choirs of Dresden, the evangelic-Lutheran Kreuzchor and the catholic Kapellknaben, is followed by an angel (a female singer) and a miner leading the procession with the Mayor, brass band and boys from the choir to the stage in the middle of the market. The Baker's guild then brings an oversized Striezel (Christstollen) which is cut in small pieces and given for free to the visitors. After introducing some more traditional figures like the "Pflaumentoffel" (a figure made of dried plums) and more singing the Mayor finally opens the Striezelmarkt: Lights on at the big tree, the tall pyramid starts turning and the lights on the oversized candle arch are lit. Bingo. Everyone runs for the first cup of Glühwein LOL

    The usual stalls aside where Christmas items are sold, there are lots of food stalls: My favourite is the one of Bean & Beluga (pic 4), the gourmet restaurant. They sell the best Glühwein (I love the white one) and have the most delicious Bratwurst. Try their sweet specialties as well: small Baumkuchen pieces, pralines etc.

    Definitely check out the stalls that you rarely find at Christmas markets elsewhere: The Baker's guild has one where they sell cookies and freshly baked Christstollen (from the cast-iron oven next to the stall, quite a show!) - the best ever. Next door is a wooden pavillon where manufactures from the Erzgebirge show the procedures of woodcarving and turning, making the Christmas items (pic 3). Your kids will love the kids' Christmas bakery (pic 5). They are invited to bake cookies, gingerbread or Stollen themselves. And there's also a "Wichtelstube", a wooden pavillion where they can learn doing handicrafts of all sorts. Or send them on a ride with the miniature train, spend time with them in the fairy-tale castle or on the historic double-decker merry-go-round ...

    There are different events every Advent. One weekend the Christstollen (Striezel) is celebrated, another one it's Pyramid festival (with focus on the wooden Christmas items from the Erzgebirge), yet another is Pflaumentoffel festival, and finally there is a miners' parade on one Advent. Expect crowds, though.

    The Striezelmarkt has strong ties to neighbouring Kreuzkirche. The church is of course open all the days of Striezelmarkt. In the second and third week they have free concerts at 5 pm on weekdays. Every Tuesday and Thursday are organ recitals at 3 pm, afterwards a guided tour of the church. One Friday (I think) is "Night of the Kreuzkirche" with more concerts, readings, the church and the steeple open until almost midnight. Of course there are concerts on weekends, too - one weekend is Christmas carols singing with the Kreuzchor, another one it's Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Kreuzchor and the Dresden Philharmonic.

    The market closes on 24 Dec, Christmas Eve, 2 pm - right before the first Christvesper in Kreuzkirche.

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    Riesa Efau

    by german_eagle Updated Sep 15, 2013

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    Motorenhalle art gallery
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    The registered association Riesa Efau (Efau is how e.V. is pronounced in German - the abbreviation of "eingetragener Verein" - registered association) is located in the Friedrichstadt district, close to railway station Dresden-Mitte. It is a place where anyone can experience art (attend exhibits, concerts, plays, recitals, see movies), be creative themselves (art and craft workshops, summer academy for fine arts) and volunteer for general activities/services in the town - help elders, handicapped, young and/or poor families.

    They also organise guided tours of the Friedrichstadt district. On weekdays (Mon-Fri) you can have inexpensive lunch at their main facility (yummy!)

    The temporary art exhibits at Motorenhalle, just around the corner, are excellent and feature contemporary artists from Dresden as well as abroad. Highlight is the summer academy every year.

    Address: Adlergasse 14, 01067 Dresden

    Continue your Friedrichstadt walk here.

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    Eierschecke

    by Kathrin_E Written Jul 4, 2013

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    A piece of Eierschecke
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    Eierschecke is a cake speciality that is endemic to Dresden and surroundings. It is a flat cake, usually served in rectangular pieces. The author Erich Kästner, a Dresden native, once wrote: “Eierschecke is a type of cake which, to the disadvantage of mankind, has remained unknown to the rest of the globe.” I wholeheartedly agree! It may look rather plain but it is very tasty, give it a try. This cake can be found all year round.

    The cake consists of three layers. The bottom is a thin layer of yeast dough. The soft middle layer is mostly curd and vanilla pudding. The creamy top layer, which gave the cake its name, consists of egg with a couple of other ingredients. The baking process creates a thin brownish skin on the egg cream, which is then sprinkled with sugar.

    In addition to the simple original version there are also varieties with fillings, for example fruit, raisins, jam, or with chocolate icing, or streusel on top. It is quite filling, so start with one piece although it looks too small for your appetite, you can still order another afterwards if you must...
    Most bakeries and cafes in Dresden serve it. According to my friend german_eagle, the best can be found at Café Wippler in Körnerplatz by the Blue Wonder bridge.

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    Neumarkt Christmas Market à la 1900

    by Kathrin_E Updated Jun 26, 2013

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    The Christmas market in neumarkt square, around Frauenkirche, has a special flair because it is styled like a Christmas market from the era around 1900. The stalls have been designed according to pictures on old postcards. This one was my favourite among the Christmas markets in the city centre. You will encounter, merchants in historical dress, Kurrende singers and so on. The stalls sell mostly arts and crafts, many nice things of good quality. The food items on sale also include unusual dishes.

    You will note that Glühwein prices are higher than those at the other markets. However, the Glühwein cups used on Neumarkt are bigger than usual, 0.25 litres as opposed to the usual 0.2, so this is justified. I still have my Neumarkt Glühwein mug and it has become my favourite coffee mug, sitting on my desk next to me right now.

    The market in Neumarkt terminates a day or two earlier than Striezelmarkt and the others, so check the dates if you are there right before the holidays.

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    Celebrations on my visit time

    by Raimix Written Dec 30, 2012

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    I visited Dresden in first days of June, I don‘t know it is special days for Dresden, but I loved to see massive celebrations for these two days I visited place. First day, Saturday there was parade of equality with different types of people, not being afraid to show they are atheists, gays, so on. Evening time was filled with different kind of people, in a square near Semper Opera and Cathedral.

    Second day I have found nice celebration in a park near Hygienic museum. My host told me it was something like family day with entertainments for children, also places to drink bear or eat sausages.

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    Creating of baroque feeling

    by Raimix Written Dec 30, 2012

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    Dresden is not only full of earlier or later baroque architecture pearls, but also of atmosphere, created mostly by tourist attractions – mummers with baroque dresses, actors with white shining and curly periwigs, tourists driven in baroque style carriages through old town of Dresden, classical music of that time.

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Dresden Local Customs

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