Cologne is one of Germany’s best spots to experience the German Christmas market frenzy to the fullest. Several markets and bazaars open up across the city during the Advent season and sell handicrafts, trinkets, hot drinks and delicious food. Here are the eight best Christmas markets to visit when you’re in town.
The Angels’ Market
Market, German, $$$
After a day of shopping, stop at the Angels’ Christmas Market at Neumarkt to pick up some last gifts and warm up with a mug of Glühwein or hot chocolate. Angel figures and stars carved from wood, garlands and Christmas wreaths decorate the market square and create the illusion to be in a forested area in the midst of the city centre.
Cologne’s largest and most popular Christmas market certainly has the most imposing setting, having giant gothic Cologne Cathedral as a backdrop. Vendors sell typical trinkets, crafts, food and drink at their red-roofed wooden huts. Under a roof of fairy lights, the stage at the centre hosts musical performances that make for the Christmassy atmosphere.
The small Christmas market at the Stadtgarten park is a favourite among locals who appreciate the quieter cosy and rustic atmosphere, but only a few tourists venture out that far. The wooden huts are wedged in between towering chestnut trees, strings of lights taut between them, and vendors sell handmade trinkets and crafts.
At the Nikolausdorf, half-timbered houses decorated with evergreen garlands and fairy lights spread across Cologne’s Rudolfplatz. The cosy market with 60 stalls is a highlight for families. Why the grown-ups can do the Christmas shopping and enjoy a mulled wine, kids can join supervised arts and crafts classes or meet Saint Nicholas.
The maritime-themed Christmas market at Cologne’s harbour and right in front of the Chocolate Museum has a unique flair to it. White pagoda tents resemble reefed sails, and the staff dress in sailors’ uniforms. The products sold all revolve around Christmas and seafaring and come from both local designers and international vendors.
The Old Town Christmas Market is great for the whole family. Huts and stall sell the best of German Christmas foods and drinks, gifts, handmade products and more. The market’s highlight is the ice rink that’s open all day for the season. You can rent skates right there and cruise around the market or participate in a round of curling.
The community-run Christmas market at Chlodwidplatz is where the locals mingle and meet for a hot drink in the Advent season – they claim to have the world’s largest Feuerzangenbowle, a German speciality drink of rum and red wine. Local designers and craftsmen and women showcase their work, and the communities’ choirs and societies arrange the entertainment line-up.
Being Germany’s self-proclaimed gay capital, the city has a gay and lesbian Christmas market as well, which delivers an alternative Advent experience. The entertainment programme lists, Bitch-Bingo, Burlesque dance and Schlager music acts, the food and drink menu includes hot cocktails, and you might find the one or another unconventional Christmas tree decoration.