Undaunted by pandemic, Bavarian innkeeper opens drive-through Christmas market

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A car drives past a booth with sweets at a drive-in Christmas market under a large marquee, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease
FILE PHOTO: A car drives past a booth with sweets at a drive-in Christmas market under a large marquee, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease

LANDSHUT, Germany (Reuters) - Refusing to allow coronavirus to steal his Christmas, one Bavarian innkeeper has opened a drive-through Christmas market, complete with artificial snow that falls as you come in.

Some 2,500 Christmas markets are usually held in Germany in the lead-up to the holiday, drawing millions of visitors who sip mulled wine and buy trinkets among wooden huts. But most markets are likely to be cancelled this year due to the pandemic, including Nuremberg's world-famous "Christkindlesmarkt."

Five months after Patrick Schmidt condensed the Bavarian "Dult" folk festival experience into a drive-through delight during the first wave of the pandemic, he is now trying to recreate the Christmas market feeling while sticking to guidelines for social distancing.

"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?" he beamed at the market's opening on Thursday in Landshut, some 60 km (37 mile) northeast of Munich.

"We don't just sell a crepe or a pack of roasted almonds, we sell an experience."

Patrons said the market comes as a welcome boost as the country grinds through a month-long "lockdown light" under which bars, restaurants, theatres and museums have been closed.

"I heard Christmas carols for the first time and I'm slowly getting into the mood," said Anton Kolbinger, holding cotton candy. "But to get into a real Christmas mood will still take some time."

Schmidt said he already knows what he wants for Christmas: "My biggest Christmas wish is that the coronavirus is finally brought under control and that next year is half-way normal again. That's what I hope for."

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)