x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Festive spirit comes to Frankfurt

Two months before Christmas, Frankfurt is gearing up for an influx of visitors to its famous Christmas markets.

Germany's more than 2,500 Christmas markets generate between €3 billion and €5bn for the country’s economy. Michael Probst / AP Photo
Germany's more than 2,500 Christmas markets generate between €3 billion and €5bn for the country’s economy. Michael Probst / AP Photo

It may only be October but preparations are already under way to open Germany’s more than 2,500 Christmas markets.

Experts estimate these collections of outdoor stalls selling traditional sweets, snacks and hot beverages as well as knick-knacks, located in towns and cities across Germany, generate between €3 billion (Dh14.94bn) and €5bn for the country’s economy.

In terms of size and visitor numbers, Frankfurt’s Christmas market, which takes place every year in the city’s Römerberg, Paulsplatz and Mainkai areas, is one of the country’s biggest as shoppers bustle to buy traditional Frankfurt-style Christmas tree ornaments, apple soap and Frankfurt slippers as well as the traditional Christmas food.

And markets are something Frankfurt has been doing very well since medieval times, when the town’s Römerberg market square was built. The city is home to the largest financial centre in continental Europe, with the European Central Bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and several large banks all headquartered there.

The city also hosts one of the world’s largest trade fairs, the 578,0000 square metre Messe Frankfurt exhibition centre and is a major air, rail and road transport hub.

Places to stay: The Dubai hotel chain Jumeirah, part of Dubai Holding, operates a five-star hotel in the city centre just a few minutes’ walk from the financial district. The 218-room tower block hotel, located in a cul de sac off the city’s famed 2-kilometre-long Zeil shopping street. The upmarket hotel manages to blend luxurious Middle Eastern design features such as vast chandeliers with German efficiency and even makes its own honey with beehives on the roof. Daily rates start from €240.

Places to eat: Frankfurt is the home of the frankfurter sausage and the city is a great place to tuck into traditional German fare. However, it is also known for its fine dining. One of the most notable eateries in the city is the Michelin-starred restaurant in the Villa Rothschild, the former country residence of the Rothschild family, surrounded by a 10 hectare park and the Taunus mountain range.

Getting there: The German flag carrier Lufthansa flies direct to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways both operate direct flights to Frankfurt. Return prices start from about Dh2,600.

lbarnard@thenational.ae