Christmas markets in Cologne (Weihnachtsmarkt):
When it comes to Christmas markets in Germany, the city of Cologne puts on quite a show. There are actually six Christmas markets in this town and we were fortunate to have visited the biggest of them all, the Cologne Cathedral Weihnachtsmarkt.
Each year, on the last Monday before Advent, the six Christmas markets in Cologne open their gates to locals and visitors alike. The Cologne Christmas market was my first real German Christmas market experience and needless to say, it was a magical experience.
Christmas Market at Cologne Cathedral (November 25 – December 23, 2013)
The Cologne Cathedral Christmas market is the largest and most impressive of Cologne’s Christmas markets. There are about 160 beautiful wooden pavilions selling all kinds of Christmas goodies, so knowing where to begin can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. For us, we thought that a good place to start was at the stall selling glühwein. 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 made for a nice souvenir of our Cologne Cathedral Weihnachtsmarkt visit.
In the cold wintry air, the aroma of hot food, roasted almonds and gingerbread can trigger hunger pangs quite quickly. We followed our nose and found the hot food stalls, all of whom were doing a good trade – the fresh crepes seemed to be especially popular with the teenage group.
Apart from the hot food, there was 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.
Armed with our mug of glühwein, we wondered around to the other stalls where we watched craftsmen demonstrating their art, checked out the stalls selling lovely hand-painted Christmas tinsels and decorations, hand-made candles and lots of other handicrafts.
In the fairground, children lined up to go on their favourite rides and there was 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 is a great place for visitors like us to join in the local festivities.
Cologne Christmas Market 2013
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 Germany 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 25 to around December 23, 2013.
- Kölner Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt at the Cologne Chocolate Museum (this market starts on November 22nd)
- Angels Christmas Market at Neumarkt Square
- Kölner Altstadt Christmas Market (Home of the Gnomes) in the heart of the Old Town has 100 rustic stalls
- Fairytale Christmas Market at Rudolfplatz Square takes visitors to the world of the Brothers Grimm (ten minutes walk from Neumarkt)
- Stadtgarten Christmas Market (this market is located on the edge of Cologne’s oldest park and starts on November 29th)
Map of Cologne: