New Braunfels’ German Christmas market Weihnachtsmarkt will take place virtually this year due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19.

Presented by the Sophienburg Museum and Archives, Weihnachtsmarkt is the museum’s largest fundraiser, which usually brings thousands of visitors from across the state to New Braunfels where they can meander through 21,000 square feet of a holiday wonderland filled with 100 vendors offering unique gifts and wares.

For the last three decades, Weihnachtsmarkt has generated close to 40% of the museum’s fundraising income that supports daily operations.

But organizers say the holiday shopping event still promises the sparkle in November.

“This is the first time in 32 years that Weihnachtsmarkt will not be the in-person social gathering of the holiday season in New Braunfels,” said Sophienburg Museum and Archives Executive Director Tara Kohlenberg. “Keeping our community and visitors healthy and safe is our top priority, so bringing the event online was a natural choice.”

The museum is finalizing details for this year’s “Virtuellen Weihnachtsmarkt” (translation: virtual Christmas market) with access and vendor information slated for release later this month.

Weihnachtsmarkt Merchant Co-Chair Teresa Johnson said they couldn’t 

Johnson said they couldn’t cancel the event, so they got creative in developing a virtual version.

“We need the community’s support so we can support our vendors who are depending on us to help them earn their livings,” Johnson said. “Yes, Weihnachtsmarkt will definitely be different this year, but we have a lot of surprises up our sleeve that will bring sparkle to the season and offer a little taste of what our visitors and shoppers have come to love.”

The history of Christmas markets dates back to the late middle ages in the German-speaking part of Europe and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France and Switzerland. The street markets were in celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent.

New Braunfels is culturally rich, Kohlenberg said.

“Stemming from our founder Prince Carl Solms of Braunfels, Germany and the ‘New Braunfels’ German settlement he created in 1845, our German culture is unique and telling,” she said. “We work to capture that story in our traditional holiday German market, and will work even harder to showcase that history in our online market this year.”

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