Christmas markets in Cologne (Weihnachtsmarkt):
The Christmas markets season is here and when it comes to Christmas markets in Europe, the city of Cologne puts on quite a show. There are actually six Christmas markets in this town and we visited the Cologne Cathedral Weihnachtsmarkt, the biggest of them all.
Each year, on the last Monday before Advent, the seven Christmas markets in Cologne open their gates to locals and visitors like us. This is my first real Christmas market experience and needless to say, I’m bursting out of my skin with excitement. It’s pure magic seeing the fairy lights of the market stalls and the giant Christmas tree set against Cologne’s most famous landmark – Cologne Cathedral.
Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral
There are about 160 beautiful wooden pavilions selling all kinds of Christmas goodies, so knowing where to begin is challenging. As we ponder on which direction to take, the waft of hot food cooking made the decision for us. It’s cold and with the aroma of hot food, mulled wine, roasted almonds and gingerbread permeating the air we quickly become hungry.
We follow our nose and find the hot food stalls, all doing a good trade – the fresh crepes seem to be very popular with the teenage group.
We come across a stall selling glühwein and here I have my first taste of this German version of mulled wine. This hot, spiced wine drink is quite delicious and has the dual benefit of giving your body a warm inner glow as well as keeping your hands warm. You can buy the glühwein drink alone but we paid for the Christmas mug as well which makes a nice souvenir of our Cologne Cathedral Weihnachtsmarkt visit.
Apart from the hot food, there’s plenty of traditional Christmas foods, cakes, chocolates and several stalls selling Lebkuchenherzen which the Germans believe is a good cure for winter depression.
These heart-shaped gingerbread cookies carry all kinds of love messages which are sure to lift the spirit of the receiver.
Equipped with our mug of glühwein, we wonder around to the other stalls where we watch craftsmen demonstrating their art, check out the stalls selling lovely hand-painted Christmas tinsels and decorations, hand-made candles and lots of other handicrafts.
In the fairground, children line up to go on their favourite rides and there’s plenty of entertainment to keep them happy, including a visit by Santa.
The Christmas markets in Germany are well attended by locals who come to meet up with friends for a drink, pick up little Christmas presents as well as to stock up on traditional Christmas foods. The atmosphere is enchanting and it’s a great place for visitors like us to join in the local festivities.
Cologne Christmas Market 2012
The Christmas markets run for a whole month up to before Christmas Eve and if you’re one of the lucky people spending Christmas in Europe and have more time in Cologne you’ll be able to explore the city’s other Christmas markets. Most of these markets operate daily from 11:00 to 21:00 and run from November 26 to December 23, 2012.
- Kölner Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt at the Cologne Chocolate Museum
- Angels Christmas Market at Neumarkt Square
- Christmas Market in the Old Town “Home of the Gnomes”
- Fairytale Christmas Market at Rudolfplatz Square (ten minutes walk from Neumarkt)
- Stadtgarten Christmas Market (starts on November 29th)
Note: The Medieval Christmas market is not operating this year.
Map of Cologne: