Each Christmas, the air of Frankfurt – which has been home to Christmas markets for 600 years – fills with the scent of gingerbread and the sound of carolling choirs.
German markets are renowned worldwide for a reason. Trees glitter, carousels spin and decked-up stalls sell traditional yuletide goodies, from bratwurst and glühwein to handcrafted wooden toys. There’s a celebration for all in and around the city – whether it’s Cologne’s DJ-spinning Heavenue, charity-led Gondsrother at Hasselroth, or the twinkling Ingelheim market within fortified castle walls. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets in the area.
Remember the true meaning of Christmas in Hasselroth – a 40-minute drive from Frankfurt – where Gondsrother street’s festive market gives profits to charities. Since 1991, it’s raised tens of thousands for those in need. The charming festive fundraiser sells crafts handmade by locals and fabulous festive food – while your kids will love the small rides and daily Santa visits. Stalls are surrounded by fairy light-strung streets and picturesque architecture: it’s a must to soak up the traditional town during your visit here.
Heavenue, otherwise known as Cologne’s Gay Christmas Market, is a big glittering party on the grounds of KölnBonn near Rudolfplatz. Each pre-Christmas December weekend, DJs spin, drag artists perform and food trucks line up to serve yummy treats and an endless stream of hot alcoholic beverages – including a specially mulled wine combining red and white. Expect Pop-art style stalls featuring angels and sparkling clouds, and impressive LED light shows in the buzzing main square. It’s a fun-filled celebration, welcoming to all.
The market in Frankfurt’s Fechenheim has more surprises than a Christmas morning stocking. Dance your novelty socks off at the three-day music event, featuring concerts from rocking and swinging Christmas to trombone-led classic carols. Bid for prezzies at the American auction, vote in the Most Beautiful Christmas Tree competition, listen to Santa’s storytelling, marvel at ice sculpting and watch your kids decorate cupcakes with a fairy. All this is rounded off with hog roasts, roasted almonds, potato pancakes and hot cherry juice.
For an enchanting Noel, visit Ingelheim – one hour from Frankfurt – where an atmospheric market dazzles within the fortified walls of the Castle Church (Burgkirche). Amongst the glittering stalls and decor, visit the open-air stage for performances by local bands, choirs and schools. Tuck into meaty or vegan dishes and sip mulled wine from local winemakers in the cosy huts. There’s a magic wand workshop and carousel for children, along with a fairy light-strung rose garden for romantic wintry walks and lantern-lit castle wall tours.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Marion Kutter.