Cologne Christmas Markets under the Impressive Kolner Dom:
When it comes to Christmas markets in Germany, the city of Cologne puts on quite a sparkling show. There are six themed Christmas markets in the Alstadt, not to mention the smaller markets outside of the city centre.
Each year, on the last Monday before Advent, the Christmas markets in Cologne open their gates to locals and visitors alike. Cologne was our very first German Christmas market experience and needless to say, it was a magical experience. We’ve been back several times since.
The Cologne Christmas markets 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. There are also more than 100 stage appearances to keep the event lively. The atmosphere is enchanting and it is a great place for visitors like us to join in the local festivities.
Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom
The Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is the largest and most impressive of Cologne’s Christmas markets. There are about 150 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 is at the stall selling glühwein. This hot, spiced wine drink is delicious and has the added benefit of giving your body an inner warmth. For me, I also use the mug as a hand warmer. You can buy the glühwein drink alone but we paid for the Christmas mug as well. It makes for a nice souvenir of our Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market visit.
In the cold wintry air, the aroma of hot food, roasted almonds and gingerbread can trigger hunger pangs quite quickly. We follow our nose and find the hot food stalls, all of which are doing a good trade.
Lebkuchen – A Cure for Winter Blues
Apart from the hot food, there are plenty of traditional Christmas foods, cakes, chocolates and several stalls selling lebkuchen. The Germans believe this Christmas treat 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.
Things to Buy
Armed with our mug of glühwein, we wander around to the other stalls and watch craftsmen demonstrating their art. There are stalls selling lovely hand-painted Christmas tinsels and decorations, hand-made candles and lots of other handicrafts. One of my favourites is the lichthäuschen or light houses.
Kölner Altstadt Christmas Market
Close to the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is the Weihnachtsmarkt Kölner Altstadt on Alter Markt and Heumarkt. Here you’ll find the Heimat der Heinzel – Home of the Elves. Hundreds of elves turn Cologne’s Old Town into a fairytale world. The Home of the Elves market has a stall that sells delicious woodfire roast salmon. This is where we come to for a nice salmon roll.
At Heumarkt there is also a popular ice-skating rink. If you’re lucky, you may get to see ice-skating performances by local groups. This Heumarkt venue stays open till end of the first week in January.
Markt der Engel (Angels’ Market)
At the Markt der Engel, or Angels’ Market, you might just meet some angels. Neumarkt is an enchanting Christmas wonderland near Cologne’s major shopping streets. As you stroll down the broad lanes with their ornately decorated stands you’re also likely to come across illuminated mythical creatures on stilts circulating amongst the crowds.
Nikolausdorf (Nicholas Village)
Nikolausdorf or Nicholas Village is on Rudolfplatz, between Neumarkt and the trendy Belgian Quarter. This market’s magical setting includes the historic Hahnentorburg.
A little further from Cologne’s historical centre is the Kölner Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt. This Harbour Christmas Market has the romantic Rhine River as a backdrop and it is also set against Cologne’s famous Chocolate Museum.
Being a maritime-themed market we were hoping to find more seafood stalls here but didn’t see any that we fancy. Instead Tony bumps into a pirate and ends up having a fencing duel with him.
Cologne Christmas Markets (Nov 22 – Dec 23, 2021)
The Christmas markets run for a whole month from November 22nd up to before Christmas Eve. To truly enjoy all the markets, it’s worthwhile spending a few days in Cologne.
Most of these markets operate daily from 11:00 to 21:00.
Places to Stay
Map of Cologne: