Christmas markets open earlier

The Christmas market season is just around the corner - and in some places, it's starting particularly early this year. The fact that the stalls are open longer and visitors can drink punch and browse arts and crafts as early as mid-November is intended to enable showmen to generate higher revenues after the long Corona break. And some Christmas markets stay open extra late in the evenings so that plenty of people can come during the week, outside of peak weekend hours. What rules apply to the second season with Corona is not yet clear everywhere.

Some cities are celebrating Christmas longer this year: "Winterzauber Berlin" starts on November 5. After the cancellation in 2020, visitors will be offered variety and fun earlier, explained organizer Carmen Blume. And the exhibitors would have "two to three weeks ahead of the other Christmas markets". Exceptionally, the market in Offenbach, Hesse, will also start earlier - on November 15. One reason is to support the showmen after the long Corona time-out without revenue, the city announced. In Darmstadt, it starts on the same day, in Giessen on November 18.

With the early start, one wanted to please the guests, explained Frank Hölscheidt, the managing director of Gießen Marketing GmbH. "In addition, there were also inquiries from the trade and from operators of the stands, who are of course also pleased about the early start of the Christmas market and the ice rink."The "Lamberti-Markt" in Oldenburg also starts a week earlier this time, on November 16. In Hanover, there is another relief for the showmen and traders: the council has halved the fees. And the showmen at the Christmas market in downtown Munich are allowed to stay a good two weeks longer than normal, until January 9. Nuremberg's world-famous Christmas market, on the other hand, lasts just as long and is about the same size as always.

Christmas markets in North Rhine-Westphalia will also not last longer because of the Corona pandemic. "In its entirety, it remains with the traditional running times," said Albert Ritter, head of the working group of showmen's associations in NRW. However, he said, in some cases, the area of the markets has been increased, such as in Essen, where there are fewer visitor streets and wider paths. The number of professional vendors has remained the same compared to the time before Corona, Ritter said. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the 3-G rule applies at Christmas markets - meaning visitors must prove they have been vaccinated against Corona, are considered recovered, or have a negative Corona test. This is signposted and there will be spot checks, Ritter said.

In Bavaria, there is no general 3-G rule at Christmas markets. Only in gastronomy in delimited indoor areas, it has to be observed - as long as the local incidence is above 35, which is currently the case almost everywhere. However, organizers can impose stricter rules. In the open-air, Bavarian markets also do not require masks. If minimum distances cannot be maintained, medical mouth protection is recommended. In Hesse, the cities impose conditions ranging from distance requirements to the 2-G rule at covered stands or in huts.

However, what is prescribed later in November and then in December could still change - because of the development of the pandemic or because ordinances expire. In Saxony-Anhalt, for example, the new Corona state ordinance, which will then also apply to Christmas markets, is not yet available. In Magdeburg, however, the city says the market will be open at least until 10 p.m. every weekday so that a visit can be planned outside the busy weekend. It starts here on November 22 and probably in the scope and with the arrangement of 2019.

In Nuremberg, the city wants to spread the well-known Christmas market over several inner-city squares. There will also be cutbacks in the traditional opening by a Christ Child actress - instead of from the balcony of the Frauenkirche, it will only be broadcast on television this year.In Stuttgart, the market opens its doors to visitors from the third week of November. But as in many municipalities, it is currently still unclear what rules will apply to the market, as Jörg Klopfer from the organizer in Stuttgart said. The state's Ministry of Social Affairs had promised the return of Christmas markets at the end of September and at the same time laid down basic rules. How they are implemented, the state leaves to the organizers.

For Mark Roschmann of the Southwest Showmen's Association, the return of the Christmas markets is a "liberating blow" despite the Corona requirements. After a break of about two years, they are a start into the new season for the traders, said Roschmann. The managing director of the Hessian state association for market trade and showmen sees it similarly: "From an economic point of view, we rate it as elementary and vital for the survival of our members. Especially since the state Corona bridging aid expires at the end of the year," said Roger Simak.According to him, the Advent hustle and bustle could also have a positive effect on the industry in the longer term: "We think that if the Christmas markets work well, we can also look to the funfairs and folk festivals again with more hope for 2022."


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