December in Hamburg is perfectly German, with Christmas markets filling the small neighbourhood squares, lining the promenade by Binnenalster lake and bringing life to the square outside the Town Hall. The smell of gluhwein and candied nuts fills the air, gingerbread hearts swing from the front of stalls and the wursts just call out to be eaten!
A short walk from the central markets, and Santa Pauli Christmas market sits proudly on the Reeperbahn. Known as a nightlife hotspot in Hamburg, the Reeperbahn is a nearly 1km long street home to pubs, clubs, theatres and the city’s red light district. And of course, come December, the Christmas market lives up to the reputation of the street.
The market fills Spielbudenplatz, a long square that runs alongside part of the Reeperbahn. Half of the market is family friendly, with the usual market stalls you’d expect to find such as gingerbread hearts, candied nuts and other food. And of course, hot drinks and Christmas crafts.
The other part of the market is a little less suitable for the family. You’ll still find Christmas crafts and decorations, but they’re a little more raunchy and sit alongside sex toys. Think a body in a corset figurine to decorate your Christmas tree, or sexy Christmas themed lingerie.
Keeping the market on theme with the Reeperbahn, there’s an outdoor bar at one end of the market. It’s set up to look like a cosy living room, with sofas, lights, and even Christmas trees hanging from the ceiling. It’s cool, but for the true Reeperbahn experience you’ll need to head inside the ‘Adult Tent’ where you’ll find live music and, of course, strip shows. Where else would you find strip shows at a Christmas market?
Before I visited the Santa Pauli Christmas market, I knew of the reputation of the Reeperbahn but had expected the Christmas market to be similar to the others I’d visited. It was the closest to the apartment I was staying in, so after a long travel day getting to Hamburg it seemed like a great introduction to the city. After checking out the ‘family-friendly’ side, I wandered back to the other side and had a moment of ‘eh?’.
I hadn’t expected to find raunchy Christmas decorations, sex toys and a strip club! It was a bit of a surprise and even more of a laugh, especially in my tired state of mind. My travel buddy wasn’t too interested in hanging around too much in that section, so after grabbing some nuts – candied almonds and macadamia, get your mind out of the gutter! – we made our way back to the apartment.
How to get to Santa Pauli Christmas market
U-bahn: U3 to St Pauli S-bahn: S1/2/3/21 to Reeperbahn Walking: Head for Spielbudenplatz
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