Dusseldorf Christmas

There are Christmas markets all over Europe, but some of the best are in Germany. No surprise, since so many of our holiday traditions were born there: advent wreaths with their candles, and decorated Christmas trees, to name just two. I was delighted to be invited for the beginning of the Christmas season in Düsseldorf, where the market opens a few days before others in the region.

After several days exploring the Rhineland city, my parting memory  was the scent of honey and fresh waffles that wafted over me as I stepped from a taxi at the main station. For travelers just arriving here by train with Deutsche Bahn, it’s a mellow greeting that promises a great holiday experience.

As it happens, there are multiple Christmas markets scattered around the heart of Düsseldorf, each with a different character. Won’t you join me in a holiday market ramble through the Altstadt (Old Town)?


The holiday season officially begins at the Town Hall, with lighting of a large tree, sent to the Rhineland by the city of Lillehammer, Norway.

The Marktplatz is a magical backdrop for a Christmas market village with huts and cabins modeled on the style of the brick Renaissance city hall in the heart of Düsseldorf’s Old Town.

Here, glassblowers and wood turners, painters and tinsmiths offer their wares, and demonstrate their crafts. Another attraction is a life-sized manger hand-carved of olive wood from Bethlehem.

And of course, there is plenty to buy, eat and drink!

For the past 35 years, the large Christmas tree in Düsseldorf’s Marktplatz has been sent to Germany by the Norwegian city of Lillehammer. After songs by a school choir and remarks from officials of both countries, bells rang, tree lights were lit and Christmas season was officially underway!

Elisabeth Walass, Ambassador-designate of Norway, greets the crowd gathered around the Marktplatz Christmas tree, as Espen Granbert Johnsen, Mayor of Lillehammer, Thomas Geisel, Mayor of Düsseldorf, and Dr. Johannes Teyssen, Honorary Consul General of Norway, look on.
At the Düsseldorf Marktplatz, children ride a painstakingly restored, antique carousel.
Not far from the Town Hall, shoppers queue behind the animated window at the beloved Henkel bakery. There are just as many people outside, stopping to watch three puppet bakers knead dough, as one takes a nap.

Flinger Strasse/Marktstrasse

Flinger Strasse and the Marktstrasse provide a Christmassy link between the Marktplatz and Heinrich-Heine-Platz. Here, the market huts are styled after old Düsseldorf burgher houses.
The Killepitsch shop, decked out for the holidays. Next door, shoppers stop for glasses of the local brandy, dispensed through a tiny window. Killepitsch is the only bar in town where you will not find Düsseldorf’s famous Altbier


The sandstone facade of the Carsch-Haus department store sets the color scheme for the Engelchenmarkt (Little Angel Market). The music pavilion at the market’s center is a popular place to step above it all for a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate. It’s a “sea of lights”!
Christmas elves at Heinemann’s cafe-restaurant. Several Heinemann locations around Düsseldorf offer splendid chocolates, and a world-class break from holiday shopping, in the style of a Vienna coffee house.
At Düsseldorf ‘s Angel Market, market huts are decorated with floral motifs and angel figures in wrought iron.


The Sternchenmarkt (Little Star Market), in the inner courtyard of Wilhelm-Marx-Haus is lined with huts flashing crystal chandeliers and starbursts of blue
The Little Star Market is where I sampled Reibekuchen with molasses, a local way with potato puffs.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying the cozy atmosphere of Düsseldorf’s Little Star Market. There were plenty of friendly faces in this crowd!


The Schadowplatz market has a Scandinavian design concept, and fronts the stunning architecture of Düsseldorf’s Kö-Bogen district.
Schadowplatz is in the midst of stylish shopping arcades, and a popular place for a day-time snack, as well as evening shopping.
Even the portable loo at the Schadowplatz Christmas market is stylish.


Traditional wooden cabins, a carousel and an ice rink in front of the curved building of the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus.

If you go

Düsseldorf Tourismus makes it easy to experience a Rhineland Christmas:

  • Düsseldorf Old Town is just one square kilometer in size, and very pedestrian-friendly. For a self-guided tour, pick up a Christmas guide and shopping map from any tourist information office.
  • Join a “Jingle bells, jingle bells” tour and enjoy Christmas stories and a mulled wine or hot chocolate (approximately 2 hours)
  • Tour the city on the HopOnHopOff bus and learn about landmarks in a variety of languages (approximately 1-1/2 hours)
  • Take a panorama excursion on the Rhine (1 hour)

At any time of year, a DüsseldorfCard provides unlimited use of trams and buses, as well as free or reduced-price entry to museums and other attractions. I found it very helpful for seeing a lot of the city in a short time.

A sunny winter day along the Rhine promenade. The Big Wheel at Burgplatz will be offering magnificent views over the Old Town and Rhine embankment until 25 January 2015.

Christmas markets are just a season opener. Here, from Deutsche Welle, are some handy things to know before celebrating Christmas in Germany.

* * *

Many thanks to Düsseldorf Tourismus and city guide Renate Morton for giving me an in-depth look at the city and its wonderful Christmas market, and to Deutsche Bahn for bringing me to the Rhineland! Great accommodation in Düsseldorf was provided by Hotel Nikko Düsseldorf.

* * *

To see all our travel stories from Germany, click here. To see all of our Christmas stories, click here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

you MUST enable javascript to be able to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.