Christmas in Düsseldorf
The most magical time of the year
Christmas in Düsseldorf
When you travel a lot, it is important to have a nice city to come home to. And that’s how we feel about our hometown, Düsseldorf. Our city offers a wide range of activities and historical points of interest. And perhaps the absolute best time of year to visit is right now when the Christmas celebrations are in full swing.
How many Christmas Markets can you visit?
The whole idea of a market to celebrate the Christmas season as well as the coming of the new year originated in Germany nearly 600 years ago, so it should be no surprise that Düsseldorf has the know-how and inspiration to do it right. When it comes to Christmas markets, there can’t be too much of a good thing. With seven Weihnachtsmärkte clustered in the Düsseldorf Altstadt or old town and several more just a touch further afield, Düsseldorf can feel like one large Christmas market from the end of November until the end of December. You can do a veritable pub-crawl or rather a Weihnachtsmärkt crawl from one to the next, sampling the different hot drinks, foods, and activities where each specializes.
Not just another Christmas Market
Though the tradition of Christmas markets did arise in Germany, the idea has spread all over the world, which may lead you to believe that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Düsseldorf is exceptional to the point of being unique in just how varied and specialized each market can be. Of course, each will have gorgeous decorations, comfort food, Glühwein, and hot chocolate, and all are family friendly with activities for children and the ubiquitous merry-go-round. But each of the seven main Altstadt Weihnachtsmärkte has particular specialties to distinguish themselves.
For instance, the Handwerker-Markt on Marktplatz next to the Düsseldorf city hall lives up to its name and has all sorts of artisanal handcrafts like glass blowing, painters, pewterers and brush makers. The 100-year-old children’s carousel in the square has been restored to its original glory, giving this market a special air of historical significance. But then you can walk down the road a little ways and run into the Altstadt-Markt on Flinger Straße where the style of the Christmas market huts has been modelled on that of the old Düsseldorf ‘Burgher’ houses. And considering how au courant the premium shops are in the area, it makes an interesting juxtaposition.
What if you’re Market-ed Out
Christmas market hopping is not the only December pastime in Düsseldorf. So long as you are not afraid of heights, the Ferris wheel on Burgplatz is open from late October until late January, and will afford a spectacular view of the city, river and surrounding countryside. Called the “Wheel of Vision,” there are 42 enclosed gondolas where you and up to seven friends can enjoy the views and even reserve a special meal or drinks. And if you are looking for something to help work off those Düsseldorf delicacies that you’ve tested at the Weihnachtsmärkte like Reibekuchen (deep-fried potato pancakes with applesauce) and Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten (steak with the local mustard), then you can head to the ice rink on the Königsallee. Open until late January as well, the Ice Rink DEG Winter World has an attractive space with opportunities for beginners and experts alike. If you are just into watching the fun, there are comfortable places where you can relax with a snack and keep an eye on the goings-on.
Sushi for Christmas, Anyone?
Düsseldorf has a pleasantly mild northern Rhine Valley climate, so wandering around multiple Christmas Markets and open-air shopping won’t necessarily be a test of endurance. But if you are looking for some alternatives to Christmas shopping and drinking mulled wines, then you can take the opportunity to explore the city’s extensive treasure trove of Japanese restaurants and shops. There is also a beautifully serene Japanese Garden a few kilometers outside the Altstadt. With one of the largest Japanese communities outside of Japan long established in the city, there is an unexpected number of unique opportunities to engage with shops, culture, and cuisine.
Whether you are lucky enough to live in Düsseldorf or can come for a long weekend near Christmas, you will find a load of festive activities as well as ways to get a break from the holiday cheer. A quiet boat ride along the Rhine with a glass of wine or the local Altbier will be an ideal way to top off a visit.