Baden-Baden: Christmas in the “Summer Capital of Europe”

I believe I’ve now covered all the German cities I’ve personally experienced as Christmas destinations, but there are several more I’ve enjoyed in milder weather. Of these, my favorite—hands down—is Baden-Baden.

Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH

Despite its romantic Black Forest location, the setting is more evocative of a Tolstoy novel (Anna Karenina, in fact, though the name of the town was changed) than a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm—neo-classical arcades and manicured allées, rather than half-timbered cottages and cuckoo clocks.

Baden-Baden rose to prominence as Germany’s—many would say Europe’s—most fashionable spa town in the nineteenth century and so it has remained. Its natural thermal springs were also highly appreciated in Roman times by the Emperor Caracalla, who made the spot his summer residence.

The annual Christkindlsmarkt is held just in front of the colonnades of the elegant Kurhaus Casino at the start of the city’s fashionable strolling promenade, the Lichtentaler Allee. it comprises nearly 100 tented booths outside and more boutiques within. A popular attraction is the Living Nativity, with live sheep and donkeys.

Nearby, the streets in the historic old town are for pedestrians only and lined with smart shops full of all kinds of Christmas wares and decorated accordingly. The Festspielhaus is Europe’s second-largest opera and concert hall and there are always programs of Christmas music during Advent.

So, even though I haven’t been to Baden-Baden for Christmas, I have no hesitation in recommending it warmly.

Postscript One more thing to bear in mind: Baden-Baden is a spa town at heart and its focus has always been on good health. Many visitors choose primarily to indulge in the pleasure of the natural thermal baths, but there are also a number of medical clinics of the highest level, dedicated to everything from prevention to rehabilitation—not something one usually associates with Christmas markets, but worth mentioning anyway, I thought.

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