The spirit of the season still shines bright at this socially distanced Christmas market in Bavaria.
In pre-pandemic times, Germany’s famed Christmas markets would be springing to life this time of year. However, with daily COVID-19 cases hitting record highs again, as NBC News reports, many of the country’s holiday markets are being canceled. Even Germany’s oldest market in Nuremberg announced it will not open for the first time since World War II.
But thanks to the innovative mind of Patrick Schmidt, owner and chef of Zollhaus Brauereigaststätte in Landshut, about an hour northeast of Munich in Bavaria, the Christmas market spirit is still going strong in a safe drive-thru format.
Last Thursday, Schmidt opened up the Christkindl Drive-in, complete with fake falling snow, Reuters reports.
The venue includes all the essential Christmas market eats, including sausages with sauerkraut, goulash, crepes, and of course, mulled wine and punch.
Schmidt already knew how to pull off a drive-thru event, since he had staged one for the Bavarian folk festival of Auer Dult in the summer.
“It was a spontaneous idea because of the second lockdown. I thought the Dult drive-in also worked, so why not a Christmas market drive-in?” Schmidt told Reuters. “We don’t just sell a crepe or a pack of roasted almonds, we sell an experience.”
The market will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Dec. 20, 2020. (It will be closed for the German holiday on Nov. 22.)
As of now, travelers from the U.S. to Germany are required to fill out an online form and quarantine for 10 days, so the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is encouraging international travelers to embrace the country’s holiday traditions virtually through its Christmas Sparkle campaign using the hashtag #GermanyXmas, which will offer stories and photos about the nation’s festive traditions, foods, and more.
“In the past, the festive season, with its more than 3,000 Christmas markets and numerous culinary and cultural events, has been a big draw for travelers,” GNTB CEO Peta Hedorfer said in a statement. “During lockdown, we are communicating not only empathy in view of this unprecedented situation, but also inspiration… with the clear objective of welcoming many visitors back to Germany next year.”