All pictures copyrighted by Netty Leistra
Having grown up in The Netherlands, where – at least when I was young – it was rather a tradition to give presents at St Nicholas (5 December), Christmas mainly meant lots of decoration and good food. I think I was a teenager when we first visited a Christmas market. There were bustours from our country, so we travelled all the way to Münster, Germany. Over the years I have visited several other Christmas markets in Germany, mainly in the north of the country, and mainly in towns and cities. One thing for sure, Germans know how to prepare for Christmas. Lights and decoration everywhere and special Christmas markets in the middle of towns. A few years ago I even saw Santa Claus flying over the square in front of the city hall of Hamburg. I might have travelled to Leer or Oldenburg again this year, if I hadn’t received an invitation to visit a totally different Christmas market. If I’d like to come to Bückeburg, the residence of Alexander Fürst zu Schaumburg-Lippe. It turned out that “Weihnachtszauber” (Christmas magic) at Bückeburg Castle, themed “Winterwald” (winter forest) this year, is something totally different and much more exciting from what I had ever experienced before.
This 14th Christmas market at Bückeburg Castle takes place from 26 November to 6 December 2015, so if you have nothing else to do in one of the coming days, go for it! Open daily from 10am-19pm, on Friday and Saturday even until 21pm. 15 (!) Kilometers of lights shows the market from its very best side as soon as it gets dark. But please take your time, as it takes probably hours to see everything. In the morning it is not that crowded, but in the afternoon tens of busses full of people arrive and especially inside the castle it is hard to move forward quickly later on the day.
Hundreds of sellers present their products in the park, the square in front of the castle, or in the castle itself. You can get about everything you want. From drinks to food, Christmas balls and decoration, jewelry, clothes for everybody, dirndls, toys, and all kind of other presents. There are even backing demonstrations and how to make your own Christmas wreaths demonstrations. Study the programm before you start, so you miss as little as possible.
Of course also the castle itself presents its products and the Fürstliche Forstamt (forestry) is present too. There are fashion shows, small concerts and revues and Christmas singers. Light shows, fireworks and a concert from the balcony of the castle take place as soon as it is dark. While walking over the market you might well meet Santa Claus, his Christmas Angels and if you’re lucky even the Fürst himself.
Be sure you don’t miss the wonderful performances of the Fürstliche Hofreitschule either. Be in time, as there are only three a day, and usually there are queues already long before they start. Wolfgang and Christin Krischke and their team bring a wonderful show. In December they have several Weihnachtsgalas (Christmas Galas) that surely will be even more spectacular than their performances during the Christmas market.
Of course inside the castle it is almost impossible to get a full view on how the rooms and halls usually look. They have totally been changed into a market. But just look up and you see the paintings, gorgeous ceilings and possibly even a piece of furniture. It was amazing to see how well Christmas and old castle rooms go together. I even saw some antlers that were used as hat-rack for bags!
Unfortunately when I was there, it rained. I’d rather would have liked snow, but of course you can’t order the weather. Not a big problem, as big parts of the market are inside the castle or in big tents. But be sure you don’t wear slippery shoes and bring an umbrella.