October 13th - 15th 2023
Dating back to 1653, Weimar's famous Zwiebelnmarkt or Onion Market celebrated its 368th year in 2023 . Receiving about 300,000 visitors every year, attractions include not only a great variety of onions but beer and food, sports contests and a ”Queen of the onion” competition.
'The humble onion is the star of the Onion Market held in Weimar, every October. These are no ordinary onions lumped together in crates or sacks; these are onions plaited together in the traditional way and decorated with dried flowers of yellow, white or lilac. They come in all sizes too...
It was first recorded in 1653 as a "market for beasts and onions" on what is today the Frauenplan, mostly held on a Sunday around 10 October, at a time in which Weimar could hardly boast a population of 5,000.
There are many instances of the links between Goethe and the Market; he is said, for example, to have secured the onion hearts to his desk, to have decorated his house with them, and to have praised the role of the onion in promoting good health. In the nineteenth century, the market moved venue to today's Schillerstrasse, and developed into the major onion purchasing centre for the whole of Central Germany. The dealers came mainly from Heldrungen, 46 kilometres away, and that is still the case today. From 1861 onwards the market was extended to three days. In 1872 the city of Weimar passed an Onion Market Ordinance. As well as onions, there were now celery, radishes, garlic, leeks, and marjoram on sale, as well as other types of spices and vegetables.
During the twentieth century, world wars and inflation led to the decline of the market, and to it being reduced to one day due to the limited produce on offer and the high prices. It was not until the 'fifties that the market began to pick up again, and by 1971 a record was set when 200,000 visitors came. The sale of the famous souvenir, the onion garland, ran to 70,000 pieces, and, as well as onions and other vegetables, fruit, and spices, handicrafts began to make their mark.
From 1990 the Onion Market again became a three-day event, always on the weekend closest to 2 October, from Friday to Sunday. The market has also grown in size in the interim, and now occupies the whole of the historic inner city. The number of visitors is given as 350,000 annually.'
Weimar's Onion Market
Photos courtesy of:
Gesellschaft für Marketing,
Kongress- und Tourismusservice