It’s that time of year again – and the only reason I thoroughly enjoy my Christmas in Düsseldorf despite being far, far away from all my family and friends back in Canada: Welcome to Düsseldorf’s Christmas markets. So, if you’re as lucky as myself and my family visiting this year over the holidays, let me introduce you to all there is to see and do in this magical city through the month of December.
Christmas is different in Germany. Though at first I was hesitant to believe it was any better than it is back home, it’s true. Both North America and Germany have their bonuses over the holidays but here’s a few things I love:
- People sing Christmas carols: I don’t know about your town but where I was from, Christmas carols were only something you heard while watching the choirs sing on television. You never really sang songs with your family or cheerfully belted out the words to Jingle Bells on the streets.
- It’s more about quality time and less about presents: Nearing the end of my childhood it started to become more apparent that I didn’t need anything, and the best gift of all was spending time with family and friends. I sound like I’m reciting a Hallmark card, yes, I know. The Germans don’t go overboard with presents as much as we do back home (as least not that I’ve seen/heard).
- Christmas is celebrated every.single.day: Not a day goes by where there won’t be a celebration somewhere. Not to mention, the Christmas markets are open daily and I literally go at least once a week.
Everyone young and old around Germany celebrate the four weeks of Advent before Christmas. This was a new tradition for me. Every Sunday in December the family lights one candle, by the time Santa comes to town, all the candles are lit and homes are filled with decorations and delicious German sweets.
Why not? In Canada we have our fair share of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties and gift exchange meet ups, but we don’t often get the opportunity to drink wine everyday of the week in celebration of the holidays. In Düsseldorf, it’s more of an experience rather than busy malls packed with people, pushing and shoving their way to a deal. You can shop around the Christmas markets, buy one-of-a-kind items while sipping on a glass of mulled wine. You can be with a handful of your best friends as you ask for advice about what to buy your mother or father for Christmas. The entire month is celebrated in the most magical way – it needs to be experienced, you won’t understand this post until you’ve celebrated yourself.
All the Christmas markets across the city run from November 19th to December 23rd. They cannot be missed as they’re cheerfully presented at all the main points in the city… which brings me to my next point… where?
You’re going to have to spend more than just a day in the city if you want to visit all the beautiful Christmas markets. Sometimes when the weather isn’t so great (welcome to winter) I spend a few hours on the street car, window shopping past all the markets. Here’s a list of the biggest Christmas markets around:
Christmas Market in the Market Square
You’ve likely past by here before, the town hall of Düsseldorf turns from an empty square into a winter wonderland. Each Christmas market looks a little different, and they all have some very unique pieces. My favourite part about the market square location is the wood working station by the entrance. You can actually hang around with your mulled wine and hot cocoa watching the creators mould incredible wooden structures for the holidays. WARNING: This market has some incredible smells and tastes, don’t come here hungry!
Heinrich-Heine-Allee’s “Little Angels’ Market”
This one is probably my favourite in terms of style. All the market stalls are decked out in beautiful lights and white accents to match their angels’ theme. You’ll enter smelling the delicious scent of roasted chestnuts and continue through the market for some mulled wine and a little one-of-a-kind shopping. This market is my favourite for Christmas shopping – if you’re looking for a unique gift, whether it be candles, toys, plates, bowls or pillows… it’s all here! NOTE: If you come at an odd hour there might actually be a spot for you at the music pavilion for a beverage and an awesome overview of the market stalls.
The meaning in English is “little stars market,” but if I write that in the title you might not find it properly. There is a huge sign at the entrance titled “Sternchenmarkt.” This market is a great place for eating, snacking and drinking. There are a few stands with Christmas gifts and goodies, but the food here is incredible. It is located in the small Wilhelm-Marx-Haus courtyard.
Flinger Straße Christmas Market
There is a market stand at this Christmas market with incredible mulled wine, cherry mulled wine, hot cocoa and egg liquor. There is also a creperie right next to it, so I can foresee you spending just as much time here as I typically do. The market stand has a pyramid on top with some of the stars around the city – you won’t miss it. Most of the stalls on this street are designed to look like old traditional Düsseldorf homes – so cute!
Schadowplatz Christmas Market & Schadow Straße
If you’re looking to do some real shopping, Schadowplatz is the place to be. In addition to the large shops and malls around the area, this years Christmas Market is bringing you a beautiful white Christmas filled with mulled wine (both red and white). This market has been carefully designed to include both high class fashion and a beautiful Christmas experience.
Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz Christmas Market
I haven’t been here yet, but I’m excited to get there soon. There’s an ice rink in the centre of the Christmas Market. You’ll find all there is to eat and drink here at Gustaf-Gründgens included mulled wine, potato pancakes, roasted chestnuts and the famous ooey-gooey cheesy goodness – raclette.
For more information about the Düsseldorf Christmas Markets head on over to Düsseldorf Tourismus.