A mere 30 km (18.6 miles) south of Cologne and its Christmas markets, the city of Bonn and the villages around spread their share of festive flair. Whether you’re looking for gift ideas, delicious street food, or you’re in search of a quirky historical spot, the Christmas markets in Bonn have it all. Here’s our pick of the best.
Bonn – Christmas Market
Approximately 180 vendors set up their huts and stalls in Bonn’s city centre for the annual Christmas market, framed by the historic Minster and the Bottlerplatz. The culinary treats here range from all-time classics such as Glühwein, roast chestnuts and battered cod, to more exotic foods and drinks including honey mead and Hungarian pastries. The handcrafted gifts, souvenirs and decor are just as varied – glass and timber Christmas tree ornaments, beeswax candles, alpaca knitwear, handmade jewellery and lanterns, leather purses and wooden kids’ toys are just the tip of what’s to be discovered.
No other Christmas market in the region can quite compete with this setting. On Saturdays and Sundays during the advent season, the 19th-century Drachenburg Castle twinkles with fairy lights as visitors are transported back in time by storytellers and actors who reenact Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas Carol. Approximately 40 vendors set up within the castle grouds offer their goods and culinary treats here – you can shop for handmade gifts and souvenirs, indulge in local foods and warm up with mulled wine and hot chocolate. The admission fee covers entrance to both the interior and the grounds of the castle, and is money invested well if you’re looking for a unique Christmas experience. Prices (with / without ticket for the cog railway up the hill): adults €7 / €12, children €5 / €6
Halfway between Bonn and Cologne, the city of Brühl celebrates Christmas with its delightful market. Fairy lights, evergreen garlands and Christmas carols sung by choirs create a festive atmosphere and get visitors in the right mood for the upcoming holidays. The huts and stalls line up along Brühl’s pedestrianised main shopping streets and offer regional specialities, including Reibekuchen, roast almonds and, of course, Glühwein, as well as arts and craft items. On one of the advent Sundays, the regular shops in town also open their doors and join in the festivities.
A trip to Siegburg’s Christmas market takes you right back into the Middle Ages. You’ll be greeted by entertainers and jesters who tell stories and sing songs, alongside vendors selling traditional products from gemstones, beaded jewellery, and Indian silk scarfs, through to spices and wooden instruments. You could stop to have your palm read, or head straight to sample the delicious food. On the menu are a suckling pig, flatbread and soup, all accompanied by mead, beer and wine.
The wooden huts and stalls of Neuwied’s Christmas market were redesigned in 2013 to look like small gingerbread houses. Their resemblance to the witch’s house in the Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel inspired the name Knuspermarkt. Vendors focus on handmade product and typical foods, and kids can challenge their parents to a round of curling on the ice rink, while the stage hosts an entertainment programme for both grown-ups and kids.
Thirty km (18.6 miles) south of Bonn, the small village of Kasbach-Ohlenberg doesn’t usually attract many tourists – apart from at Christmas time. The local brewery has taken it upon itself to organise a nostalgic Christmas market for the past 12 years, featuring historical circus carriages, roaring fires, and an old merry-go-round that makes kids’ eyes light up with excitement. Mulled wine and Christmassy foods are a given, but you can also indulge in homemade liqueurs and cakes.