Winter, Christmas, wellness region: the Palatinate showcases itself as an attractive destination, and not only for the grape harvest or almond blossom. Here, everything can consciously slow down along the almost 85 kilometre stretch. Outstanding wines, diverse regional cuisine as well as picturesque locations and a variety of natural attractions make for an indulgent experience for all senses.
The first thing to come to mind is naturally the Palatinate Christmas markets. On this note, just like the wine festivals in the Palatinate, if you've visited once you'll fall in love. If you've experienced one market, in the Palatinate there's still much, much more to discover. That's because here entire cities and villages transform into charming Christmas words. The aroma of fir sprigs, spices and hot winemakers mulled wine drifts out from decorated courtyards or festively adorned wine press houses. In many places local residents also contribute to the festive atmosphere with decorated windowsills or vibrant advent calendars. And the Palatinate forest attracts visitors with forest Christmas markets and promotions such as the communal Christmas tree cutting event. Christmas aside, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Vosges du Nord/ Pfälzerwald with the largest contiguous forested area in Germany in a unique combination with the transition to the viticulture landscape also enables little relaxing ways to escape from everyday life. This also applies to the gastronomy with numerous slow food or culinary heritage companies.
Astounding views can be found once the leaves fall to the ground shortly after the grape harvest to reveal the landscape. The contrast between snow-capped mountains and clear blue skies is inspiration enough to get out into the fresh air. Winter hiking in the vineyards and in the Palatinate forest is popular. More and more people love to clear their heads in the cool fresh air. You can warm up between the two in one of the cosy cabins in the Palatinate forest that tempt you to stop at the weekend. And after the holidays and the turn of the year, the Palatinate awaits with both attractive and popular culinary vineyard hikes. The opening of the wine festival season is signified by the Red Wine Trail in Freinsheim and the "Erlebnis in Rot" (experience in red) in Landau-Nußdorf. This runs even before the pink and white almond blossoms then mark the start of spring.
There are Christmas markets both at home and abroad. They are increasingly interchangeable. In the Palatinate, however, there are lots of enchanting locations full of charm and character. Visits here are also worth it before the Christmas period. Each Christmas market enables people to experience the authentic attitude to life of this region. The Palatinate local, the one-and-only Klaus Eichberger, market master of the traditional Deidesheim advent, highlights the balance between handicraft and gastronomy as its trademark. Food and drink in the Palatinate is always premium quality, but it is first and foremost the loving handicraft that makes the Christmas markets so special. This is just as true of the large ones on the Wine Route such as in Landau or Neustadt as it is for the smaller ones in Rhodt unter Rietburg and St. Martin or Neuleiningen. All in all, the atmosphere is unique and events are incredibly intense.
"Advent, advent, a candle is burning. First one, then two, then three, then four, then baby Jesus is standing in front of the door." This well-known nursery rhyme or the advent wreath with its four candles wouldn't exist were it not for the Palatinate. This is because it was decided during a synod in Limburg near Bad Dürkheim in 1038 that there will always be four Sundays of Advent. Since then, the first advent has been celebrated on 27 November at the earliest and 3 December at the latest. The so-called Strasbourg Advent dispute preceded the decision regarding the season, in which Christians prepare for the peaceful festival of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II was travelling home from Burgundy. He visited his uncle, bishop Wilhelm, on 26 November 1038 and became annoyed because, in Conrad's opinion, the uncle wanted to celebrate the first Advent a week too early. Should Christmas eve count as the fourth Advent? Should the Advent period last for three, four or five weeks? Conrad refused to celebrate in Strasbourg, travelled on to Limburg and waited until 3 December. He then summoned a synod, because he wanted to resolve the problem for the whole of Christianity once and for all. The emperor won with the majority of bishops behind him. A plaque on the ruins of the former cloister in Limburg commemorates the decision that made Advent in the Palatinate the only true one.
Venison sausages, winemakers mulled wine and hot punch for the children taste particularly good at the campfire in the wintry Palatinate forest after the "work" is carried out. Above all, because the self-cut Christmas tree is already well packed on the roof rack or in the car trailer. For many families, the pre-Christmas excursion is somewhat of a tradition. Christmas tree cutting is only possible thanks to the forest offices. On certain dates, the foresters point out the way to the woodland where the trees grow. The collective search and cutting is a mini adventure that is fun into the bargain. What's more, the trees are grown without mineral fertilisers and pesticides. They are also a regional, ecological alternative to trees from enormous tree crops. And last but not least, anticipation of the Christmas festival grows with the concluding small celebration in the magical atmosphere of the Palatinate forest. Incidentally: even at the start of the new year, the Christmas trees play the leading role once again at Knutfest (Christmas tree throwing events), for example in Eschbach or Weidenthal.
As a somewhat different winter wonderland, the Palatinate reveals itself to be incredibly diverse at all times of the year. After refreshing walks or hikes in the clear, fresh air, warm thermal water, for example, in the southern Palatinate thermal spring provides a trip to a sauna featuring views of the snow-capped landscape or relaxing massages with grapeseed oil for physical well-being. With WellVinEss, the combination of wine and well-being, multiple hotels offer unreserved indulgence for the body, spirit and palate. It is therefore incredibly easy to spoil yourself on the German Wine Route. Regional souvenirs – from aromatic fires to premium vinegar and exquisite pralines – help to prolong the time-out. The same applies to products made of old barrique wood or jewellery with a 'Dubbeglas' design. What's more, there are gifts for loved ones that are perfect not only under the Christmas tree. This is in addition to the wide array of exquisite fine wines and sparkling wines. Last but not least, you can treat yourself and others with bookings for holidays in the Palatinate.
Awards, medals, ratings: Palatine wines are highly acclaimed. In central wine shops as well as directly with the winemakers on the German Wine Route, you can sample the fine wines as the fancy takes you. Other features include taster menus accompanied by wine in gastronomy and especially events with a very special character. There is also the "Wachenheimer Unterwelten" (Wachenheim underworld) where the wines are left to mature. As part of the "Birkweiler Weinwinter” (Birkweil wine winter), twelve wineries open up their courtyards and cellars. In addition to wines and food, artisans present themselves in the festively illuminated atmosphere. And with the „Maikammerer Momente im Winter“(Maikammer winter moments), there is wine by the fireside or venison from the barbecue.
Three-day package including a hike by torch light in the winter landscape – simply unforgettable wine tastings and warming winter cuisine featuring goose in Niederhorbach on the southern Wine Route.
From 1 November to 30 January, excluding public holidays.
Two nights in Bad Dürkheim on the German Wine Route, one dinner in the hotel, one hike through the vineyards led by one of the wine princesses with a wine and sparkling wine tasting and Mediterranean snacks in the winery as well as entrance to the casino.
From 11 January to 24 February.