Gengenbach, Germany and the giant Advent Calendar
Gengenbach, Germany and the giant Advent Calendar

The sky is dark for already at least an hour. Hundreds of people if not a thousand are wandering from one stall to the other on the Christmas market. The air is full of excitment. And suddenly everything guets quiet.  It is exactly 18.00 o’clock. At 6 in the evening every night in the holy Advent period before Christmas starts the window opening ritual. The town hall is in the dark. And suddenly the magnificent 200 year old Town Hall facade comes to a new life. Another window of the advent calendar town hall opens …

Gengenbach, another romantic medieval city in Germany

Gengenbach – “pearl among the romantic half-timbered towns” they call their city. I discovered the existence of gengenbach one day just by luck. I was driving on the motorway from Offenburg (20 kilometers south-east of Strasbourg) to Freiburg. And I saw a sign emphasizing proudly “Gengenbach, a beautiful medieval city”. I was intrigued by the drawing as well as the title and once home again on the other side of the Rhine I made some research about it.

The beautiful Christmas market in Gengenbach …

Gengenbach is a beautiful historical city with plenty of romantic old houses with wooden frameworks, very similar to the houses we have in Alsace actually. This shows once more that on both sides of the Rhine we have for centuries a common history. The historical heart of Gengenbach is surrounded by remains of the old defence wall (ramparts) with some spectacular towers. Gengenbach is famous for its Carnival (Fasnacht). They even have a museum dedicated for that. But today we are interested in the Christmas market. Actually they call it the Advent Market. From end of November to the 23rd of December, it is worth a visit. Have a look at the pictures, you will understand why.

The opening times of Gengenbach Advent market:
Monday to Friday from 15:00 – 20:00
Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 – 20:00

The most beautiful Advent’s Calendar in the world is in Gengenbach

In 2013 from the 30th of November until the 23th of December (a day before Christmas Eve), the magnificent 200 year old Town Hall facade comes to a new life. Every night another window of the advent calendar town hall opens … until the last of the 24 windows is open and the town hall shines in all its glory on Christmas night.

The opening ceremony of a new window is happening every day exactly at 18.00 o’clock. At 6 in the evening every night in the holy Advent period before Christmas starts the window opening ritual.

For the past 16 years by now, the Rathaus, or town hall, of Gengenbach has shown its magical, captivating power during the Advent time as its 24 windows have been transformed into the world’s largest advent calendar house.
You will be amazed by this unusual event and winter success story! So are the 100.000 visitors and more who come every year from near and far to enjoy this unique experience. In previous years, the windows were even designed by internationally renowned artists and illustrators of children’s books as well as by young artists from the region.

Practical hints, tips and links

Advent (Christmas) market in Gengenbach, Germany
Advent (Christmas) market in Gengenbach, Germany

Gengenbach Advent market takes place from 30.11. until 23.12.2013
Monday to Friday 15:00 – 20:00
Saturday and Sunday 12:00 am – 20:00
The daily Framework Programme from 30.11. to 23.12. starting weekdays at 17:00 and on weekends by 15:00.
The window opening is open daily from 30.11. until 23.12.2013 by 6:00 pm precisely.
The Advent calendar is up to 6 January 2014 to admire.

Gengenbach city website

How to get there

Gengenbach is less than 40 kilometers south east of Strasbourg, a 45 minutes drive.
For visitors staying in our holiday apartments in Riquewihr, Alsace it is 95 kilometers and a 1 hour and a half drive. Two itineraries are possible: one crossing the Rhine south of Strasbourg towards Offenburg or one crossing the Rhine at Marckolsheim, then continuing east to the A5 before heading north. Same distance / time for both.
From our Mountain Hiker apartment in La Vancelle it is easier and shorter (85 km) to take the option south of Strasbourg.

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