cologne Christmas marketsMonday, December 23, 2013
Only a few sleeps to go! Last weekend hubby and I were in Cologne for a whirlwind trip to visit the Christmas Markets - feasting on bratwurst, potato pancakes, glühwein, waffles, stollen and more delicious things than my waist-line cares to remember. In two days we visited seven Christmas markets in total:
- Harbour Christmas Market
- Alter Markt Christmas Market
- Cathedral Christmas Market
- Neumarkt Christmas Market
- Rudolfplatz Christmas Market
- Stadtgarten Christmas Market
- “Christmas Avenue” Market
Harbour Christmas Market
The Cologne Harbour Christmas Market is located on the edge of the Rhine River, conveniently close to Cologne’s Chocolate Museum and a nice 15 minute stroll along the river from the Central Station.
We decided to begin our Christmas adventure here as we thought we would better appreciate the views of the river during the day and it was fairly close to our B&B. Well, we had a blast! This Christmas Market is one of the most modern in Cologne, with its white marquee tents, pirate ship and nautical theme.
It's the best place to feast on freshly smoked salmon, drink glühwein that’s been heavily spiked with rum, and practice your rrrrrr’s.
Our second stop was the Alter Markt in the heart of Altstadt – the Old Town. Here we found a maze of Christmassy lanes each themed around a different Heinzelmännchen gnome.
This market had a nostalgic feel – with games, an antique roundabout, nativity scenes, toy stands and a figure-8 ice skating rink. Of course we had to try it out. I must add here that ice-skating when you have drunk a few mulled wines can be risky business! The ice-skating rink was surrounded by timber stalls and fairly lights, which amplified the festive atmosphere as the sun went down.
200 metres down the road from Alter Markt is the Cologne Cathedral, and the city’s most famous Christmas market at its base. The view of this Christmas Market was absolutely breath taking as we approached - with the largest Christmas tree in Rhineland holding a blanket of fairly lights above a small town of festive wooden pavilions. And in the background the cathedral loomed.
The Cathedral Christmas Market was the most popular of all the markets we visited, and was completely packed by the time we arrived on Saturday night. The variety and amount of food on display was endless, but in the end we settled for a warming, traditional sausage and potato dish.
Neumarkt Christmas Market
Last on our Saturday hit list was the Neumarkt Christmas Market - Cologne's oldest Christmas Market. This was my favourite Christmas Market – with a beautiful starry sky setting and angels wandering between the stalls. Magical.
The Neumarkt Christmas Market also had the best quality products, and it was here that I fell in love with stollen - delicious marzipan filled bread. I can’t believe I’ve never tried Stollen before. I bought a whole loaf bring back to London with me, and have been munching on it all week.
On Sunday we had a small lie in and then set out for The Rudolfplatz Christmas Market - set against the historic backdrop of Hahnentorburg, one of Cologne's three mediaeval gate houses. This Christmas Market is known for its fairy tale figurines that decorate the Christmas stalls and surrounding area. A great Christmas Market for those who are young at heart. We had lots of fun here taking photos of all the humorous figurine displays.
A 10-minute walk away was the Stadtgarten Christmas Market – located on the edge of Cologne's oldest park. This was my second favourite market – and a great place to visit during the day. Surrounded by trees the Stadtgarten Christmas Market had a lovely local feel, was more relaxed and slow paced, and very traditional. Having overdone the glühwein the day before I opted for hot cider (and a waffle) :)
Our last Christmas Market stop before heading back to London was ‘Christmas Avenue’, Colognes gay and lesbian Christmas market. Bright tinselled stalls lined a small street and Christmas music was playing. It was a little subdued when we were there - but I’ve heard that in the evening there’s often cabaret shows and a lively party atmosphere.
All in all, a very fun Christmassy weekend. I would most definitely recommend Cologne to anyone who’s new to the European Christmas Market scene.
Have you been to any good Christmas Markets lately??