The massive, 315-year-old market, set amid the city's gabled houses hung with fir branches and angels, sprawls across several historic center squares between the Gothic cathedral and ivy-clad castle. The officials at Stuttgart's Weihnachtsmarkt take careful measures to ensure the welfare of Lukas the donkey (saved years ago from a local butcher), his goat friends, and the assorted sheep populating the living Nativity scene. Vendors in some 280 stalls sell wooden toys, glass baubles, nutcrackers, and sheepskin clothing, along with sheep ham, sheep sausages, sheep's-milk cheese, waffles, gingerbread, roasted almonds, and Hutzelbrot (fruitcake). In the evening, grab a warm Glühpunsch wine scented with cinnamon and vanilla and amble into the Old Castle's Renaissance courtyard for the daily Christmas concert (6pm weekdays, 5pm weekends). For the kiddies, the Kinderland on Schlossplatz offers rides (carousel, Ferris wheel, mini steam railway) and some hands-on holiday experiences like making candles.
Dates: Late Nov.–Dec. 23