I have been waiting for this moment for ten years, when I am able to finally spend Christmas in Europe and have easy access to the Christmas markets that I loved in Germany. It took an easy hour’s hop from London to Cologne, and we were among Cologne’s four Christmas markets.
Markt am Dom
The most immediately accessible market (and hence, the most crowded and commercial) is the Markt am Dom at the Cologne Cathedral. Having arrived early, we were able to walk around relatively freely and enjoy the festive markets with my first mug of Glüwein (mulled wine) to warm my inners.
A large Christmas tree dominates the centre of the market that sparkled brilliantly when we returned at night to view the lights. The effect was visually appealing, especially with the impressive Cologne Cathedral as a background making this market, in personal opinion, the most photogenic.
While browsing, I started chatting to an elderly lady who lived in a Bonn suburb, and she said the Dom market this year is so far the grandest she has seen!
Markt der Engel – Angel Market
At the far end of the Cologne’s shopping district at Neumarkt is the Angel Market. This is the city’s oldest market. The market’s theme is, well… Angels, and Angels patrol the market on a regular hourly schedule. This market has a relaxed atmosphere as it is mostly the locals that come here, for it is slightly away from the tourist hot spots.
The white chalets of Angel Market was befitting for the wintery chill in the air. The temperature was 6 C and although not yet freezing (and no where as cold as Moscow) it was enough for us to break out the gloves and beanies to keep warm. Not to mention, it was time for another mug of Glüwein.
Hafen-Weinachtsmarkt – Harbour Christmas Market
On the harbour by the chocolate museum is a market set with a sailing theme. Stall sellers dressed in sailor suits and a bar in a tall ship is the highlight of the market, as well as the couple of stalls selling fresh and cooked seafood differentiate itself to the other markets in Cologne.
The harbour market is smaller than all others, but with the river on its side it is quite a scenic market to visit.
Markt am Alter Markt
I am leaving my favourite to the last. This is Cologne’s biggest market and the most comical and interesting. The Markt am Alter Markt is a Christmas market themed with Gnomes! The market stretches from the old market (the Alter Markt) all the way to Heumarkt, and is decorated with old traditional scenes and Gnomes.
Stall sellers here are dressed in old village peasant garb, and some even make breads/lollies/wooden carvings the old village peasant way. The market smells of cinnamon, roast meats and honey all in one go, with a whiff of burning wood in the air.
At Heumarkt, a large ice rink had been set up circling the statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III, where we enjoyed a good hour of skating and watching those drinking in the bar engage in rowdy games of curling.
There is something so refreshing about ice skating outdoors!