There’s one thing I absolutely love about December in Europe beyond anything and everything else: Christmas Markets.
I can never ever get enough of all the glittering ornaments, heartfelt laughter, glühwein, lavish red decorations, the scent of evergreen trees…freshly made waffles or crêpes served with an over abundance of frosting sugar and Nutella…
This list could really go on…
With December finally upon us, I feel like it’s time to begin Snow to Seas annual Christmas binge. It’s time for another round of Advent Adventures. While I’ll be heading down from Scandinavia for some Swiss Christmas fun soon enough, today’s Advent Adventure takes place in Cologne, Germany – alternatively referred to as Köln.
I originally visited Cologne’s Christmas Markets last December during the second weekend of Advent. I spent a whole weekend in Germany’s North Rhine – Westphalia state with a morning in Aachen, another morning in Düsseldorf, and an afternoon in Cologne. It does like one hectic weekend, but when you’re surrounded by all things Christmas – sugared and spiced – it was all really beyond nice. (I was also working full time at that point. Weekend getaways were all the rage).
So if you’re in the festive mood too, here are 17 dazzling photos and 4 BIG reasons to convince you that Cologne’s Christmas Markets are worth a visit.
Obsessed with all things #Christmas? Discover #Cologne’s magical Christmas Markets today: Click To Tweet
Since convincing individuals to visit Cologne during Advent actually seems to be a pretty easy task, (millions pay the markets a visit every year), I’ll also be sharing some tips for making the most of your very own Cologne Advent Adventure.
Why you should consider visiting Cologne’s Christmas Markets:
1. The Number of Holiday Markets
Even though you’re paying a visit to one city, you won’t have only one Christmas Market to explore. And the market count doesn’t end at two or three either! This year, Cologne has 7 (SEVEN!) Christmas Markets! You can immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by visiting Cologne’s:
- Cathedral Christmas Market
- Angel’s Christmas Market
- Harbour Christmas Market
- Old Town Christmas Market
- Village of St. Nicolas
- Stadtgarten Christmas Market
- Christmas Avenue (An LGTB Christmas Market)
All 7 Christmas Markets have been pinpointed on the Google Map below:
What makes Cologne’s number of Christmas Markets even more impressive is that each market is distinct from the others (right down to the décor).
Cologne’s Cathedral Christmas Market was all about vibrant red…
…while the Angels’ Market opted for more white.
To learn more about Cologne’s different markets, you can visit the city’s website by clicking here.
While in Cologne, I became completely enchanted by the citywide festive atmosphere and various markets’ gorgeous and grand decorations. Time flew. And since I only had one afternoon in the city, I only ended up visiting three markets: the Cathedral Market, the Angel’s Market, and the Old Town Christmas Market. (I’m seriously considering planning a second trip back in order to visit the other 4!)
One of the main entrances to Cologne’s Cathedral Christmas Market.
Overall, visiting the three markets I did is completely doable by foot. Walking from the Cathedral Market to the Old Town Market took around 5 minutes, and walking from the Old Town Market to the Angel’s Market took around 15 minutes.
2. The Mind-Blowing Backdrop
As mentioned above, none of the 7 markets in Cologne skimp on décor. All Christmas market stalls are decked out with the most marvellous of decorations. However, when it comes to Cologne’s most popular Christmas Market, the Cathedral Market, there’s one element around the market that makes it stand out from the others. As the name of the market suggests, it’s the Cologne Cathedral. The towering and majestic Gothic structure behind the market adds a totally surreal element to the market atmosphere. With such a unique, commanding and often *glowing* structure right by the market, it truly feels like stepping into the Cathedral Market is like stepping into a fairytale realm.
I swear that the cathedral is prone to glowing in the late afternoon sun.
It’s all real. No CGI or green screen here.
Another one of the main entrances to the Cathedral Christmas Market.
3. The Magical Live Performances
In the centre of Cologne’s Cathedral Christmas Market, you’ll find the largest evergreen tree in the state. Right in front of it stands an elevated stage underneath a canopy of hundreds upon hundreds of string lights. Throughout the holiday season, a whole series of live festive performances take place for market-goers to enjoy.
Can a outdoor Christmas concert venue be anymore spectacular?
On a whole different “performance” note, if you’re lucky during your Cologne Advent Adventure, you may get the chance catch hundreds of road-raging, motorcycling Santas speeding down and around the city streets.
While exploring the Angel’s Christmas Market, I suddenly heard hundreds of horns blaring and a whole ton of excitement from the people in the area. I followed the crowds and was met with this sight. If anyone knows why there were hundreds of Santas cruising through Cologne, I would love to know! (Haven’t come across any details online).
4. Easy and Affordable to Reach
Cologne is super easy (and usually fairly cheap) to reach from a whole list of places within Germany and Europe.
If you’re considering flying to Cologne, you can actually search for flight deals to two different airports. Ryanair offers flights to Cologne Bonn Airport from over a handful of other European cities. EasyJet flies to Düsseldorf’s main airport, which is only a 30-minute train ride away from Cologne’s main train station.
Of course, you can also reach Cologne via Deutsche Bahn and the Cologne Bonn Airport by Flixbus.
What to consider when visiting Cologne’s Christmas Markets
A trip to Cologne’s Christmas Markets can truly be a memorable and magical experience. In order to make the most of your advent adventure, here are some tips and details to keep in mind:
1. The Crowds
There’s a lot to love about Cologne’s Christmas Markets, and a lot of people love the city’s markets. After all, as mentioned earlier, millions visit the city’s markets every year.
Due to their popularity, the markets can get pretty crowded. Like. Extremely, I-can’t-move-right-now crowded. If you prefer to explore Cologne’s Christmas Markets when they’re less packed, consider visiting them on a weekday and/or arriving just before they are set to open for the day. It’s actually a pretty fun experience to see the vendors arriving, setting up, and opening up their stalls too.
Just your typical Saturday afternoon in Cologne’s Cathedral Christmas Market. #PACKED.
2. The Chilly Weather
By the time December rolls around, it’s pretty much winter in Cologne. Temperatures tend to be around 0°C. If you plan on exploring a handful of the city’s Christmas Markets, some walking and quite a bit of outdoor time may be involved. Make sure to dress for the weather! (For me, hats, mitts, and scarves are a must).
With December here, it’s time for some #AdventAdventures! Find out why #Cologne’s Christmas Markets are worth a visit today: Click To Tweet
TIP: If you’re feeling chilly, you can always warm up with a hot mug of glühwein.
3. Limited Daylight Hours
Not only does the start of winter bring frosty temperatures into the mix, it also brings shortened daylight hours. Be prepared for the sun to set and dusk to settle in around 4:30 PM in December. Nevertheless, after sunset, the markets are lit up by thousands of Christmas lights, which makes them a pretty spectacular sight.
The Old Town Christmas Market at night.
My only challenge after sunset became taking photos of these magical markets without a tripod.
Cologne Christmas Market Dates and Times
This year (2017), most of Cologne’s Christmas Markets opened on November 27th and will remain open until December 23rd. The city’s markets are generally open on every day of the week until 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM. Feel free to visit Christmas Markets Germany’s page about Cologne’s markets in order to check out specific market hours.
With a whole set of posts on the blog titled Advent Adventures, it’s no secret that I love Christmas. I’m actually so obsessed that during my time living as an expat in Europe, I made it my mission to visit 2-3 different Christmas Markets every year…(and without a doubt I totally did).
While this post showcases some of the holiday magic you can discover in Cologne, next week, we’ll be heading south and across the border for an Advent Adventure in Colmar, France. Cologne had hundreds upon hundreds of glittering string lights. Colmar has hundreds upon hundreds of glittering and bedazzled homes!
Too excited to wait for the next Euro Christmas Market post?
You can check out these Advent Adventures today:
…bear with me folks, because those last two posts will take you back to my blog’s baby days (I’m all about keeping those humble beginnings up there for the world to see).