Christmas Festivities in Frankfurt
I first went to Frankfurt in 2003 for the Book Fair. As it was very early on in my career and my first ‘business trip’, I was incredibly excited. I needn’t have been. From the plane direct to the exhibition centre, my only impression of Frankfurt was that of an industrial, business-oriented city that had little to offer compared to the rest of Europe.
Fast forward a few years and a friend’s move back to Germany found me back in the city once again, but this time with a completely different insight. The bright city lights of the skyline screamed success, while the relatively small size of the destination (there are only 700,000 inhabitants) acted as a catwalk for tourists and locals and they ambled along Goethe Strasse, enticed by the likes of Chanel and Escada. A visit to the high-end Jumeirah Frankfurt hotel in Thurn-und-Taxi-Platz had me convinced: Frankfurt is so much more than a business destination.
Compact, friendly, and exceptionally easy to navigate, a few days spent in this German city makes for a relaxing break. Spring and summer are obviously enjoyable times to go, but I chose to go in December, specifically to see the spectacular Christmas markets and soak up the festive atmosphere created by the beautifully decorated stalls, one of the biggest trees in Europe, and the life-size nativity scene.
Running from the end of November through December, the markets are reminiscent of an era gone by as groups of families and friends chat over steaming mugs of mulled wine. Children clamour to get on the merry-go-rounds all the while clinging to their candy floss sticks, while stall-holders entice you with roasted chestnuts, traditional marzipan biscuits, warm pretzels and chocolate-filled crepes.
Aside from the markets, the cultural side of Frankfurt is particularly strong with over 60 museums, the largest English-speaking theatre in mainland Europe and various festivals and events held throughout the year. The city is also undergoing the re-building of the ‘Old City’ to recreate a glimpse of traditional, German-style architecture prior to the Second World War. With a planned opening in 2015, I may just be visiting Frankfurt again in the near future.
To read the full travel feature, pick up Hello! Middle East, 29 December 2013.