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Cologne Christmas Markets

January 23, 2012

I know it’s almost February, but indulge me and let me show you Cologne’s beautiful Christmas markets. By now I’m sure you know that I am a huge fan of this German Christmas tradition, so you can imagine that I took full advantage of being in Germany during December. I love the lights, stands, foods, drinks, atmosphere, … It  just makes me feel all warm and happy inside. And that’s not just the Gluehwein talking 🙂 Did you know that Cologne alone has seven Christmas markets? And they are all different: different locations, different themes, different shops. When I stayed with my sister in Cologne last month, I managed to visit five of them. Some visits were quite brief, others involved a few more Gluehweins and shopping around. I have three favorites. Yes, three 🙂 How could I possibly pick just one?! I like them all for different reasons…

Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral/ Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom

Where is it? Roncalliplatz

This is one of my favorites since a long time. The setting is of course hard to beat with the huge cathedral in the background. They also usually have a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the square and everything is decorated beautifully with little Christmas lights. They sell the traditional Christmas market foods and of course Gluehwein and, aside from the typical socks, scarves, toys, etc., they also sell cute little things from Cologne that make nice gifts for others or souvenirs for yourself (e.g., Spekulatius cookies).

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Market of Angels – Christmas at the Neumarkt/ Markt der Engel – Weihnachten auf dem Neumarkt

Where is it? Neumarkt

I loved this one! It doesn’t have the cathedral as a backdrop, but they decorate it very nicely. For example, they have a ton of little stars in the trees above the stands. Very pretty! It’s also one of the bigger Christmas markets in Cologne and you have a great choice of foods and shops with little knick-knacks here. I would choose this if one of your goals is to buy a few last minute Christmas gifts. It was packed when we went, but because it’s so big, we still managed to find a little place for us to hang out and have a few drinks. It’s here that I switched from Gluehwein to Lumumba (hot chocolate with rum) for the night; I hadn’t had it in so long that I almost forgot how good it tastes! If you’re not a big fan of Gluehwein, you should try this hot drink instead. And give the delicious Backfisch a try too!

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Cologne Christmas Markets: Market of Angels - Christmas at the Neumarkt

Kölner Altstadt “Heimat der Heinzel”/ Cologne Old City “Home of the Heinzel”

Where is it? Heumarkt

This one is smaller, but really cute. It’s right around the corner from the one at the cathedral. The surroundings are really pretty with older Cologne houses, a church, and a statue. The stands were really nicely decorated with little Heinzelmaennchen – this year’s theme of this Christmas market. According to legend, the Heinzelmaennchen are little gnomes that used to do all the work for Cologne’s inhabitants while they were sleeping; they stopped after a tailor’s wife got too curious and set a trap for them one night. Anyways, the stands were decorated beautifully and it was really cute. This is one of the more traditional Christmas markets where they sell drinks and food of course (we had delicious white Gluehwein here), but also delicatessen to take home, and more hand-made crafts such as candles, wooden things, etc. Really neat!

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel" 

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

Cologne Christmas Markets: Kölner Altstadt "Heimat der Heinzel"

These next two Christmas markets were nice, but I’d be ok skipping them next year.

Weihnachtsmarkt im Stadtgarten/ Christmas Market in the Stadtgarten

Where is it? Venloer Straße/Spichernstraße

This Christmas market was by far the least touristy and most popular with Cologne’s younger demographic. It looked pretty nice and seemed to have nice stands for last-minute gift-shopping, but it was so packed when we went that you could barely turn around. The lines were really long for getting something to drink and – big turn-off for me – this was the only Christmas market I went to in Cologne that didn’t have its own, themed cups. I usually keep at least one from every Christmas market I go to; totally legal since you pay a deposit for having them in the first place by the way. It’s like buying one!

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Stadtgarten

Cologne Christmas Markets: Christmas Market at the Stadtgarten

Märchenweihnachtsmarkt auf dem Rudolfplatz/ Fairy Tale Christmas Market at the Rudolfplatz

Where is it? Rudolfplatz

We came to this one after leaving the one at the Stadtgarten and while they had an old big city gate (very impressive by itself) as well the typical foods and drinks, it all seemed to be put together a little indifferently: barely any decorations (and I imagine that would have been so easy with “ fairy tales” as the theme), the stores didn’t really have any nice products, … The whole market kind of just left me a feeling a little… blah. Oh well, it probably wasn’t that bad, I was just spoiled by the first three we went to because they were so good.

Cologne Christmas Markets: Fairy Tale Christmas Market at the Rudolfplatz

Cologne Christmas Markets: Fairy Tale Christmas Market at the Rudolfplatz

Cologne Christmas Markets: Fairy Tale Christmas Market at the Rudolfplatz

 Cologne Christmas Markets: Fairy Tale Christmas Market at the Rudolfplatz

 

And, for completeness sake, these are the two I didn’t get to visit this year. Maybe in the future 🙂

Cologne’s Boat-Christmas-Market 2011/ Kölner Schiffsweihnachtsmarkt 2011

Where is it? Frankenwerft

Harbor Christmas Market at the Chocolate Museum/ Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt am Schokoladenmuseum

Where is it? Am Leystapel

 

As you can see, Cologne Christmas markets are really special. If you ever happen to be in Germany during December, you might want to come visit them yourself 😉 By the way, we visited all the ones we went to in Cologne via subway. Really easy.

© 2012, Country Skipper. All rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • R. Sherman says:

    With Koeln being such a big city, I can see how they’d have multiple ones. I always enjoyed the one in Regensburg, with the Lutheran church as a backdrop. Nuremberg’s is very good, as well. You’re right, the Christmas markets are the best thing about Christmas in Germany.

    Cheers.
    R. Sherman recently posted..A College Basketball Interlude

    • Sabrina says:

      They are! Make me feel all warm and fuzzy 🙂 Haven’t been to the one in Regensburg (yet), but I did like the one in Nuernberg a lot.

  • sue says:

    So beautiful no wonder you could not choose just one.

    • Sabrina says:

      Right?! Can’t believe I have to wait another 11 months for more of them 😉 One thing is for sure though, I will definitly try to go back to Germany in December 2012.

  • I’m bummed that we didn’t get to visit any of the Christmas markets this season — Thailand isn’t really big on the whole Christmas thing! 🙂 I love looking at these pictures and now I really want some hot chocolate (even though it’s like 90 degrees here, lol).
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Budapest in Photos

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks! And mix some rum in that hot chocolate 😉 Maybe you should drink it inside an air-conditioned room though. 90 degrees is hot! I hear you on missing the chirstmas-y stuff. I really miss the markets in particular in years I don’t make it to germany before Christmas.

  • Aaah, this brings back so many good memories of the time when I lived in Cologne. I LOVED the Christmas Markets there, and I loved how many there were. I remember that I used to get the BEST chocolate covered fruits on Roncalliplatz and the best sugar-roasted almonds on Neumarkt.
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..It’s a dog’s life for animal lovers on the road

    • Sabrina says:

      Did I know you used to live in Cologne? Such a fun city, isn’t it! Love the one on Roncalliplatz. Never tried the chocolate covered fruits there though. Next year! Hmmmm, gebrannte Mandeln 🙂 They’re good anywhere!

  • Pit says:

    Hi Sabrina,
    Thanks for the pictures and the explanations. I really didn’t know that Cologne has so many Christmas markets.
    Bet regards,
    Pit
    Pit recently posted..Bill Cosby …

  • Lisa says:

    One of my dreams is to someday visit Christmas markets in Europe. The problem is that the more that I see photos of different ones, the more confused I get about which I want to go to!
    Lisa recently posted..The Beauty of Oia

    • Sabrina says:

      My vote goes to…. Cologne! Just kidding. Well, a little. I do love Cologne’s Christmas markets, but it’s also home, so I’m biased. There are some beautiful ones in the south of Germany as well.

  • Steve says:

    Hmmm…I’m not a fan of crowds, shopping, or Christmas decorations, but these street markets still look like a great place to get some amazing looking food, and in my world food trumps all the other issues. I can eat, my wife can shop. The perfect destination for us!
    Steve recently posted..Disneyland is 1.96% of Life

  • Kate says:

    “Cologne’s Boat-Christmas-Market 2011/ Kölner Schiffsweihnachtsmarkt 2011”

    I will always have a soft spot for this particular market, even though it had the least atmosphere. When I was there, it was largely focused on antiques and second-hand Christmas decorations, neither of which I’m particularly interested in. But then I saw a set of wooden decorations that I had to have, no matter what. My Mum has an identical set and I’ve always loved them, but I thought I’d never be able to get a set of my own because they were so old. And there was that set just waiting for me! I paid far more than what they were worth, but I’d’ve quite cheerfully paid double. Triple even. I did feel slightly guilty; someone else wanted that set badly too and I do have to confess to snaffling it out from under her nose, but they’ll have a good home with me.

    This aside, my favourite market was the Gnome Market. We ended up going there again and again, even if we didn’t want to buy anything. We would just stand there with hot chocolate, listening to the band or just listening to the crowd. I remember that my Dad said to me and my Mum “Stop here and just close your eyes for a second.” And when we did that, all we heard was happy chatter, singing and if we heard shouting, it was never aggressive, if that makes sense. We didn’t hear a single angry sound.

    I want to go back to Germany in the lead-up to Christmas. I’m thinking about visiting the Berlin Christmas markets, I’ve heard good things about those too, but I can’t imagine them taking Cologne’s place in my heart. 🙂

    • Sabrina says:

      I still haven’t been to that one. I’m planning a trip again around Christmas this year, so maybe I’ll manage this time around. I love old decorations, so it really sounds like just the place for me. Thanks for the tip!

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