I love Christmas markets, and every year in Advent season I do a trip to somewhere new to see a new market. Usually within Germany. But after reading so much about the Christmas market in Wrocław I chose to return and check it out. This time I treated myself to a hotel round the corner from Rynek. The room faced an inner courtyard, so it was quiet, and I had close walking distances to about everything. nevertheless I got the public transport pass as usual, being the proud holder of a Wroclawian Urban Card. A local friend said that this almost makes me a real Wroclawian citizen, LOL. Using the tram network means freedom and saves a lot of walking.
In addition to spending time at the market, I had planned some off-the-beaten-path sightseeing and exploring at relaxed pace. I had an appointment with some colleagues from the project at university who wanted my expert knowledge (ha, ha). And I had a ticket for a concert at the newly opened concert hall!
Jarmark bożonarodzeniowy - Christmas Market
The Christmas market fills approximately two thirds of Rynek: the southern and eastern and parts of the northern side, and extends into ulica Świdnica and ulica Oławska.
The market is most beautiful at night. The square is beautifully decorated with coloured lights in garlands and star-shaped patterns.
Decorations in Poland tend to be more colourful than ours in Germany. Wrocław’s market has one colour concept, using two shades of violet and white, so even this extravagant colour does not feel like too much. The lights on the Christmas tree also have the same colours.
The giant Christmas Tree in front of the city hall was still turned off on my first day. Only on the first December weekend they turn on its lights, although the market had already been on since the second last week of November. On Thursday afternoon they switched it on for a test. Friday night saw the ceremony of illuminating the tree, which I missed because I was at the concert.
The tree is not a real tree, though, but a cone-shaped metal structure covered in fir twigs. Looking for such a huge fir would be unrealistic, and it would be a shame to cut such a majestic tree. The shape would not be this perfect either...
The part on the northern side of Rynek is an international market with stalls selling food and knickknack from various countries round the world.
In front of the city hall they have a Bajkowy Lasek, a „Fairytale Forest“ with showcases that display and tell fairytales (Brothers Grimm!), and there is a small rollercoaster and a merry-go-round for children.
German Christmas markets were the model for Wrocław’s market. The biggest proof is the grzaniec stall in the shape of an oversized Erzgebirge pyramid. The market is certainly aimed at tourists as well as locals. I heard a lot of German spoken. Some stalls sell what qualifies as souvenirs. But there are also nice arts and crafts.
A lot of food items, including Polish specialities like meat products and cheese, and sweet can be bought. The cheese stalls put slices of smoked cheese on the grill and serve them hot with jelly, a delicious and filling snack. Street food also involves frytki holenderski (Durch fries), kiełbaski z Turingii (Thüringer grilled sausages), Hungarian Langos and so on.
Wata cukrowa (cotton candy) in different colours is popular with children.
This girl got a r-e-a-l-l-y big serving.
And of course there is grzaniec, Glühwein, mulled wine.
There are various types of grzaniec on the menu. Grzaniec świąteczny is the classic, plain mulled wine. Then there is Grzaniec wrocławski, which is also made from wine but with I-do-not-know-what added, this was my favourite and much tastier than the plain one. The others are made from various fruit wines (cherry, blueberry, plum and so on), and they also have hot chocolate. I had little trust in the fruit wines as this sweet stuff can be real headbangers, so I did not try them but stuck with my grzaniec wrocławski. All these hot drinks are served in fancy mugs shaped like little boots. Every year they have a different colour. In 2015 it was pale purple. I brought one of them home to serve as coffee mug.
What did I buy on the market? Some little wooden stars for my bunch of fir twigs that I have at home every Advent. A piece of pottery from Bolesławiec, namely a plate and cover for butter. Smoked cheese and żurawina (berry jelly) for our Polish class‘s Christmas party.
Christmas markets seem to be a relatively new tradition in Poland. Only big cities have them. I was amazed that even during peak times like Friday and Saturday when a German Christmas market would be packed wall to wall with people, it was still relatively empty here. Hanging out on a Christmas market is not (yet?) that popular as an evening activity.
Only for the Mikołajki parade on the eve of St Nikolaus Day the market was really full. This was a rather noisy matter. Santa Claus came on a sleigh mounted on a cart which was drivn through the market. He was accompanied by a bunch of strange figures like a snowman with a long pointed nose that looked like a stork’s beak, a clown, a devil, and some huge winged creatures that were probably supposed to be angels but looked quite scary. The music they played was not exactly Christmassy either. Small kids must be frightened to no end of this Santa Claus and his entourage. Or are Polish kids tougher than their German counterparts? Perhaps. Hopefully Mikolaj is nicer when he comes down to meet the children after the parade…
There are more such events on other weekends in the run of the season, for example a parade of the Ice Queen, or one with Rudolph the Reindeer.
The market‘s colourful website is worth a look: http://www.jarmarkbozonarodzeniowy.com
It contains information about all events, the merchants, things to do, and has photo galleries and many entertaining extras. Click the flag for your preferred language.