Quedlinburg's christmas market takes place in market square from Saturday before the first Advent Sunday (in 2013: Nov 30) until Dec 22. The square is surrounded by half-timbered houses and provides a beautiful setting. The market is medium-sized and not that special, to be honest, but Christmas markets are always nice and combining it with a visit of the old town is surely worthwhile.
Advent in den Höfen is a festival that takes place during the pre-Christmas season. Originally only one weekend, the festival has this year (2013) been extended to the first three Advent weekends. The idea is opening many hidden courtyards in the old town which are usually not open to the public, and having arts and crafts markets, food and drink in there. Most of these courtyards are just big enough for three or four stalls. In addition to the big Christmas market in market square, these stalls sell high quality products from local artisans, offer a romantic and cosy atmosphere, and allow seeing those pretty locations behind the facades. A fantastic idea, adn in theory really great.
However, trouble is that they have been overrun by their own success. The event attracts people from near and far, more than the concept could cope with. The narrow courtyards were filled with wall-to-wall crowds, it was hard to get through to the stalls at all. Finding an empty table in a restaurant also proved really difficult. It might be better now that it's on three weekends, hard to predict. But mentally prepare for crowds if you plan to go.
Quedlinburg is painstakingly restoring its old buildings one by one but years of GDR budget means that quite a few houses in the side streets are still neglected and this shows. It is actually quite fascinating, if sad, to walk around the centre and realise that this town is so full of great buildings that those in need of major work are still plenty. Click on the picture and you'll see what I mean - it's only a block away from the Half-timbering museum!
Houses where the entire facade is made of roof tiles is typical for the Harz region as it gives good protection against bad mountain weather.