Cologne’s Christmas markets began with the Markt der Engel, or Market of Angels, with new venues being added over the years. The first market is still a favorite for many people, and I loved it. Newer additions have their own attractions, though, and I found something to enjoy at each one.
Cologne Christmas–Part I introduced the markets nearest the Cologne Cathedral. For an entirely different neighborhood vibe, do yourself a treat, and visit Neumarkt, the two markets at nearby Rudolfplatz, and the Stadtgarten Market in the Belgian Quarter. This is what you will find.
Market of Angels – Christmas at Neumarkt
Perhaps because I was there for the opening festivities, this one seemed to catch the best of the season at just the right time.
There were dignitaries, gospel singers, the superb voice of German diva Wanda Kay–even a stilt-walker. The stilt-walker’s great height and illuminated headdress frightened a few children, but she won them over, somehow bending down to their level and distributing glittering tokens.
Village of St. Nicholas at Rudolfplatz
Cologne Christmas market at the Stadtgarten
A little off the beaten path from the other Cologne Christmas venues, the Stadtgarten market in Cologne’s Belgian Quarter offers a unique village-in-the-woods setting. It’s cozy, with narrow lanes circling the Stadtgarten concert hall. This market is family-friendly and intimate, with storytelling and other events for children on the market’s culture program.
The handmade gift items here are artisanal products of top quality, from jewelry and felt slippers, to the little jars of truffle-flecked hollandaise sauce I just couldn’t resist. Food venders in chalet-styled huts set in a grove of trees serve up all manner of good eats–bowls of stewed mushrooms, soups and other hearty fare.
Cologne Christmas Avenue at Schaafenstrasse
Cologne’s gay and lesbian Christmas Avenue is in its third year, and is the go-to venue for an evening program of Schlagermusik and sounds from typical Cologne bands. This market gets going a bit later than the others, and features a range of performers, such as Wanda Kay, who opened the Angel market. Christmas Avenue also plays an advocacy role, seeking to raise awareness and support for current LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS charities.
If you go
- The KölnCard makes it a snap to explore Cologne’s Christmas markets using public transport (and make repeat visits to some).
- With the Christmas-Market-Express, visitors can sample four of the markets, and take a ride through the streets of the old city. Festive Christmas concerts, atmospheric boats trips along the Rhine during advent and nativity tours also offer the perfect build-up to Christmas.
- The city’s motto for 2014, Holy Cologne, celebrates the arrival, 850 years ago, of the bones of the Magi in Cologne. This year, take a time out from Christmas markets to visit the stunning exhibition, The Magi. Legend, Art and Culture, at Museum Schnütgen.
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Many thanks to KölnTourismus and city guide Ute Fendel for helping me experience Cologne’s Christmas market scene, and to Deutsche Bahn for bringing me to the Rhineland! Great accommodation in Cologne was provided by Hostel Köln.
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