Yes, I know, it’s that season again. We’re approaching Christmas soon and everywhere the Christmas songs start playing, there are decorated Christmas trees and special streetlights to welcome this most festive season of the year. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and get enough of all that shopping terror. But believe me, there’s still one tradition that sets me back into Christmas mode every year. And as easy as it sounds this is my yearly stroll over the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg during the weeks before Christmas.

christkindlesmarkt 3 s, f/2.2, ISO 125, 7,5 mm, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Spectre App, Afterlight App

The main square in the city of Nuremberg called the Hauptmarkt in front of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is where every year the famous Christkindlesmarkt takes place. The Christkindlesmarkt is one of the oldest and one of the most famous Christmas Markets in Germany, probably in the whole world. Germany ist still rather good at celebrating Christmas. With all the old churches and enough snow during the winter season I sometimes think that Christmas must have been invented in Germany a really long time ago. Usually winter is the dark season here, the days are short, the nights are long and almost precisely at the longest night of the year people have invented this glamorous, yet still simple tradition of Christmas with all its lights, candles and sweets. Obviously I’m not going into the religious details here, only so much: something very new has started here. It’s a magical tradition and it’s no wonder that people all over the world are fascinated by this event.

So basically in Nuremberg you’re at the core of this tradition, here all of this must have started. You might call Nuremberg the Christmas City but I still prefer calling it after its famous market, so for me Nuremberg is and always will be the city of the Christkindlesmarkt. You might have guessed it, Christmas markets are everywhere these days, but in Nuremberg you’ll surely find one the most renowned markets in the whole world. So you might want to come here as well to get to know what this Christmas hype is all about.

christkindlesmarkt 1/100, f/2.2, ISO 160, 7,5 mm, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Afterlight App

If you’re strolling through the narrow and always packed alleys of the market, between the wooden booths, you can find wonderfully shining Christmas decorations, ornaments, handicrafts, the famous mulled wine, special Nuremberg gingerbread and of course the famous, just one finger long Nuremberg bratwurst. It’s truly a remarkable and a in the best sense of the word an immersive experience. You just dive in into that continuous flow of people of all nations looking, taking pictures, eating and celebrating the most important time of the year. Usually I’m the type of person that tries to avoid the crowds and I have to reveal that I only go to the market once or twice a season, but these one or two visits are so full of experiences and impressions, every time they are truly remarkable two hour experiences of looking and slowly but surely getting into the right Christmas mood.

christkindlesmarkt 1/50, f/1.6, ISO 125, 5,1 mm, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Afterlight App

If you’re visiting the market with your whole family make sure not to miss the special Children’s Christmas Market nearby called Kinderweihnacht. You can find a nostalgic two-tiered merry go round, a mini Ferris wheel and a steam railway on the Hans Sachs Platz just 100 m away from the main market.

In recent years I always used these two markets for dedicated photo tours trying to capture some festive moments to share and spread the idea of Christmas. What I usually try to capture during my strolls over the main Christkindlesmarkt is probably best described as street photography. Usually I avoid taking pictures of strangers in certain contexts but during this event I can’t help myself of observing other people shop and eat and enjoy themselves between all these lit up boots. It also would be rather difficult and also a bit sad to take pictures of the market without any people. So during this event taking photos of people is ok for me. The nearby Kinderweihnacht has always been easier for me. I was always focused on the moving carousels, Ferris wheels and trains and could get wonderfully moody slow shutter images that way.

This year I only took black and white images. This technique somehow adds a nice feeling of the past and some documentary touch to the shots I brought home. I’m pretty happy with the results this year, especially as they are different from my images in the past. Usually I only shot in color, shooting in black and white is a rare exception for me. Also the COVID hiatus during the past two years might add some special fascination for people and crowds as we all tried to stay away from such events during the course of the pandemic. I guess one of the secrets of black and white photography is hunting for light and in situations like strolling over an intimately lit Christmas Market after dawn certainly creates a nice moody, almost cozy atmosphere for portrait shots of random strangers.

christkindlesmarkt 1/50, f/2.2, ISO 160, 7,5 mm, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Afterlight App

As my nephews are already too old for the Kinderweihnacht I didn’t take any shots of the moving Ferris wheels and carousels this year. I guess I’ll save this opportunity for another time. My fascination for the main market alone is already big enough for one post COVID season. At least when trying to count the number of people wearing masks while being amidst the crowds you might already think that this pandemic is mostly over. I don’t fully feel that way but like all the others I did wear no mask while mingling with the crowd. While writing this text a couple of days after my excursion I can luckily report that I didn’t get sick, whatever this means.

· photography