The two reasons that a trip to Kassel should be on your Winter Wishlist
The central German city of Kassel is perhaps mainly known for the Documenta art exhibition, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (more on that later) and being the place where the Brothers Grimm collected and wrote most of their fairytales. So, when it comes to the festive period, it should be no surprise that this city in Hessen is creative, beautiful, and packed full of fantasy. But is it really worth the trip!? YES, it is. And we’ve got a couple of good reasons to show you why…
See, we didn’t make you wait too long! Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a hillside landscape park in Kassel. It’s not just any old hillside landscape park though, it’s the largest one in Europe. Dating back to the 1600s, it took over 150 years to construct and is now a listed UNESCO World Heritage site. What makes it so special exactly? A few things; Löwenburg castle – a 200-year-old medieval style castle that now houses a museum, Wilhelmshöhe Palace, which yes, is a palace and also has a famous art gallery inside, not to mention acres of greenery that is home to all kinds of flora and fauna.
But for us, it’s the centrepiece of the park that steals the show. The towering statue of Hercules that sits on top of a pyramid, which is on top of an octagon which is on top of the hill. It’s worth climbing the hill for the views, but it is definitely smart to also enjoy the view from the bottom, looking up across the cascading, staircase-influenced water feature.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is incredibly enjoyable in the summer, but it is also worth exploring on a winter day as well. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with snow then you’re in for a treat, but even without it’s still worth it. And if it rains? You can visit the Großes Gewächshaus (literally translated as the Large Greenhouse) which is only open during the winter months. If a wide range of colourful and exotic plants aren’t really your thing, then there are always the galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants to take shelter in.
German Christmas Markets happen all over the country during the festive period, none are quite like Weinachtsmarkt Kassel though. Sure, it has all the usual big hits like Glühwein (mulled wine) a selection of stalls, loads of food and a sea of beautiful festive lights (and a Ferris wheel to enjoy them from) but there’s a twist… given the city’s close ties with the aforementioned ‘Brothers Grimm’, it shouldn’t be a major surprise to hear that each year the market has a special fairytale theme. There’s a fairy tale pyramid, a fairy tale forest and even a fairy tale slide, which is not just for kids. This year’s theme is ‘Snow White’, so be on the lookout for dwarves, talking mirrors and maybe even an evil witch.
Another thing that sets the Weinachtsmarkt in Kassel apart from other German ones, is its duration. Whilst a lot of markets run up until around the 23rd of December, Kassel’s keeps going until the 30th (it shuts the 24th-26th) meaning that you can keep your celebrations going, or it is a perfect time filler for that lazy period between Christmas and new year.
Ok, so we did say two reasons, but we have another small one we couldn’t help but include… Our final recommendation is a culinary one. Here at Penta, we’re partial to sampling local foods and Kassel is no different. The Kasseler Hornaffe (Kassel Horned Monkey) is famous from the Brothers Grimm Dictionary and is decidedly tastier than it sounds. An oval, strudel-like Christmas dough that’s filled with raisins and candied orange peel, covered with marzipan and then sprinkled with almond pieces. A festive treat that is definitely worth trying. Another place where you can find good food in Kassel is at Pentahotel Kassel. It also has a great vibe and 137 comfortable rooms, so really it makes for the ideal base if you want to explore either of the above…
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