A drive-through Christmas market in Landshut, southern Germany on November 26, 2020.
A drive-through Christmas market in Landshut, southern Germany, November 26, 2020 (CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP)

Despite partial containment and worrying Covid-19 contamination figures, some German Christmas markets are resisting and adapting to the pandemic. Most and especially the most famous such as those in Nuremberg, Düsseldorf or Dresden have been canceled. But some have had an idea: drive-through sales.

You have to book in advance, pay around 12 euros for admission and you can shop in complete safety, respecting health regulations. “We are inspired by fast food chains”, explains Patrick Schmidt, 31, restaurant owner and organizer of the Kalkar market in the north-west of the country. When you arrive, a masked employee gives you a menu and you just have to choose from hot chestnuts, pancakes or grilled sausages. You can stop in front of the candy stand to collect, again through the window, your huge cotton candy or a gingerbread heart, for the pleasure of this mother: “I think it’s great. It’s great to come in here and be able to see it all.”


We are used to Christmas markets, it is certain that compared to last year, it is not the same thing but it is still very beautiful!

German mother

to franceinfo


For traders, like Patrick, whose restaurant has been closed since the beginning of November, it is the assurance of bringing in a little fresh money to get through a more than difficult period. It is also a way of maintaining the tradition of Christmas markets which Germans are particularly fond of. They have existed since the 15th century, they were called the “markets of Saint Nicholas”, the great figure of German Christmas. Excluding the pandemic, these markets attract 160 million visitors each year from all over the world. Everyone spends an average of 18 euros there. In Landshut, in Bavaria, near Munich, or in Kalkar on the banks of the Rhine, we took out artificial snow, illuminations, 300 fir trees.

For Kalkar, it was a godsend. There is an amusement park in the city housed in a former nuclear power plant. It’s there, at the foot of what used to be the huge cooling tower, that you can drive warm in your car for a mile and a half, sometimes in the smells of exhaust fumes. There is only one thing that has changed between the opening in mid-November and the past two weeks since the stricter containment order in force in Germany, and that is the ban on sale to take away for mulled wine… And that, for the Germans, is a “kolossal katastrophe” and a Christmas 2020 really like no other!

These two drive-through Christmas markets will remain open until the beginning of January. The organizers expect to reach a total of 10,000 visitors in their car.