All around Germany, Christmas markets - like the one seen here in Bonn - traditionally open in late November to mark the start of Advent. Apart from mulled wine, scarves and candles, it's their cheerful, warm atmosphere that attracts visitors from far and wide.
Whether you call it "Lebkuchen," as those in western and southern Germany do - or "Pfefferkuchen," as is the tradition in eastern parts of the country - gingerbread is a popular treat at any Christmas market.
Germany's most famous gingerbread sort originates from the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, but Marlis Eisbusch (seen here) has also had success with hers. She has sold her baked goods at the Bonn Christmas market for 30 years. She started with her grandmother and now runs the booth with her daughter. The family has been making gingerbread for four generations according to traditional recipes.
The nativity scene depicts the birth of Jesus Christ as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the Bible's New Testament. The one pictured here has its own special distinguishing feature: it comes from Bethlehem, where Christians believe Jesus was born.
For 21 years now, Iyad Ghawaly and his family have been selling figurines carved from olive wood by their relatives and other families from the area around Bethlehem. This year, Ghawaly is replacing his brother Jerries at the Bonn Christmas market stall as unrest in the Middle East prevented him from coming to Germany.
When you shake one of these, snow starts falling on the figures inside. The well-known snow globe is a popular collectable item - and the Christmas version is no exception.
Snowmen, snowy landscapes and everything winter-related is a popular Christmas theme. Nina Sting, a student, has been working part-time at the stall selling all sorts of figures and trinkets depicting Christmastime.
Music is an important part of Christmas celebrations, but it is also something universally popular. At the Bonn Christmas market, musical instruments from all over the world are available for sale.
A well-established music store brings the sounds of the world to the Bonn Christmas market. Employee Tommes Folkersen does this quite literally - by playing the didgeridoo, the musical instrument of indigenous Australians. He admits, however, that he still has some way to go before he masters the art.
The tradition of wooden incense-smoking figures and candleholders comes from the Ore Mountains region of Saxony in eastern Germany. But vendor Astrid Reichardt said most of them are made in eastern European countries today. Those seeking authentic Ore Mountains products can still find them - but may have to pay a higher price.
Bernd Dreyer's specialty is small tin toys. He has been selling them at the Bonn Christmas market for the last 15 years. But once Christmas is over, he goes back to his mainstay job: event catering.
Rita Tayba produces it all herself: sophisticated headgear, scarves, shawls and jewelry. The craftswoman has been selling her wares at the Bonn Christmas market for 10 years and has many regular customers. She also accepts special orders.
Ulrich Müller is sometimes hard to spot behind all the ladles and dishes in his market stall. Since 1978 he has been continuing the old cottage-industry tradition of woodcarving done by older family members at home in wintertime. He makes his products from rare local wood varieties.
Bakers from all over Germany can be found at the Bonn Christmas market doing what they do best. Not surprisingly, the aromas are irresistible.Photos: Per Henriksen
Shopping, food and entertainment - German Christmas markets offer their visitors all this and more. The Bonn Christmas market is no exception.