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There’s something in the air: the smell of Glühwein and roasting almonds, golden light flickering from star-shaped candles, the sound of a band playing Christmas music in the distance.

Add the laughter of children, the sight of wooden stalls filled with festive items and the warm glow that rises when old friends meet, and you have that special feeling a German Christmas market brings.

While most markets have these common elements, they are not all the same. This year, try one that is a little different — the Ober-Hilbersheim Märchen-Weihnachtsmarkt, or "fairy-tale Christmas market." The market, held in the village about 10 miles west of Mainz, is open for just two days, on the second weekend of Advent, which this year is this Saturday and Sunday.

Though small, the market is popular, not just in the neighboring area, but also with shoppers in cities such as Wiesbaden, Bad Kreuznach and Darmstadt. You’ll see cars with license plates from these cities and elsewhere parked in long rows along the roads entering the village and on its small side streets.

The market features crafts and handmade items. Ceramics, hand-blown glass, paintings on silk, stoneware, wooden carvings and hand-crafted jewelry mixed with antiques, pillows filled with herbs, figurines made from hay, bees wax candles, and fresh mistletoe and Christmas trees. There are also locally made marmalades, jellies, wines and spirits for sale — and if you aren’t sure what you want to buy, you can taste them first in the back yard of local vintners or in a cozy wine tavern.

The market is open noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Santa arrives at 6 p.m. both days with presents for all children. On both days at 4 p.m. a fairy-tale play, "The Golden Goose," will be performed at the Protestant church.

To reach Ober-Hilbersheim from Wiesbaden, take Autobahn 643 (from Kaiserslautern, take A63), then A60 toward Bingen. Leave A60 at exit 15, Ingelheim West, and take Route 41 toward Bad Kreuznach. After going through Gau-Algesheim, take the first road, L415, left, leading to the villages of Appenheim, Nieder-Hilbersheim and finally Ober-Hilbersheim, about four miles from Gau-Algesheim.

For more information and a schedule of events, see the German-only Web site www.maerchen-weihnachtsmarkt.de.


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