Cologne Christmas Market

About Heinzelmännchen and Christmas on the Rhine

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christmas book
My friend Marion shares how we celebrate Christmas.

Planning a visit to the Cologne Christmas market? You have the choice of seven different markets to explore in Cologne (Köln). That's worth the journey, so why don't see them all?

Köln is one of the oldest cities in Germany. The city on the Rhine attracts millions of visitors each year. Cologne is worth a visit anytime, however, during the Christmas season it is truly special.

cologne christmas market cathedral
Christmas market in front of the cathedral

International travellers rate German Christmas markets among the best in Europe. The Cologne Christmas market at the cathedral is one of the favourites of visitors from Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

27th of November is the start of this years markets around the city.



Cologne Christmas Markets - The Big Four

  • Weihnachtsmarkt at Roncalliplatz in front of the cathedral is the Cologne Christmas market par excellence.
    160 beautifully decorated stalls, the majestic cathedral as a backdrop, the tallest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, these are the superlatives of Cologne's most imposing Weihnachtsmarkt.
    Cribs and a merry-go-round are attractions for the youngest visitors. An extraordinary variety of crafts makes it easy to find a special Xmas gift.
  • Heinzelmännchen market on the Alter Markt
    Only 200 m from the cathedral and the central station, this market in the heart of the old town is home to Cologne's famous Heinzelmächen (see box below). They watch the goings-on, and take care that newfangled gadgets don't disturb the traditional Christmas preparations.
    The market in the winding lanes of the old town has the most rustic and idyllic atmosphere, it is a favourite amongst Cologne's citizens.
    Open daily 11am to 10pm late November until 23rd December.
  • Christmas market on the Neumarkt - The Angels Market
    This is Cologne's oldest Christmas market, however, new organisers turned the appearance of the market in 2008. Walk through the angel's door, become enchanted by the beautifully decorated stalls and the delightful Christmas atmosphere.
    Open daily 11am to 9pm (until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays) from late November until 23rd December.
  • Weihnachtsmarkt on Rudolfplatz - The Fairy Tale market Set against the historic backdrop of the mediaeval Hahnentorburg, this Cologne Christmas market fascinates children with large fairy tale figues on the roofs of the stalls. A hand-carved crib and a huge adventscalendar are other attractions, apart from the good food, arts & crafts and daily visits of St. Nikolaus.

The little house gnomes (Heinzelmännchen) are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day. According to the legend, this went on until a tailor's wife got so curious to see the gnomes that she scattered peas onto the floor of the workshop to make the gnomes slip and fall. The gnomes, being infuriated, disappeared and never returned. From that time on, the citizens of Cologne had to do all their work by themselves.

This legend was first written down by the Cologne teacher Ernst Weyden (1805-1869) in 1826. It was translated into English by Thomas Keightley and published 1828 in his book "The Fairy Mythology".

Source: Wikipedia, Creative Commons Licence

cologne christmas market nativity scene

Nativity scenes are attractions for kids at Christmas markets in Germany

More Cologne Christmas Markets

Köln offers even more Xmas markets for your excitement.

  • Medieval Christmas market outside the Chocolate museum
    Medieval artisans who demonstrate their crafts dressed in traditioanl clothing give this market a very special and traditional appearance. 30 fascinating stands, medieval music, and no electric light. At night the place is lit by flaming torches.
  • Have you ever visited a Floating Christmas market? It is held on board of the MS Wappen of Mainz. Sit down and sip a Glühwein, and enjoy the view to the cathedral and Cologne's old town.
  • Stadtgarten Christmas market is Köln's youngest Xmas market with a relaxed atmosphere.

cologne christmas market christmas decoration

Beautiful stall for German Christmas decoration

Whichever market you choose to visit, it will be an unique and fascinating experience. Once you are there, I know you wish to see more than just one Weihnachtsmarkt.

Cologene Rhine River Cruises

Relax and board a ship to enjoy the magnificient scenery along the the river. Afternoon and dinner cruise are especially delightful during Advent.

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cologne christmas river cruise

Enjoy the beautiful scenery from a river cruise in Cologne

German Christmas Treats

Want to bring a bit of good old German Christmas feeling to your home?
Here are some suggestions for you.

Schmidt Lebkuchen are the best! Fortunately, for all Lebkuchen & cookie lovers in the US, the original products from Nuremberg are available from late October until Christmas at
Choose one of the decorative tin chests filled with delicious ginger bread and you'll have a perfect Christmas gift.

Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links. This means when you buy a product through one of these links, for example at, I earn a small commission (there is no extra cost for you). This money helps me to maintain this website and provide the free information for you. Thank you in advance for your support.

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Cologne Accommodation

Don't know where to stay in Cologne while you enjoy the Christmas markets? Use the search box and compare the best deals.

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Private Guided Christmas Market Tour

If you want

  • to explore more than one Christmas market in Germany, but don't want to drive on your own
  • to have someone take care of your accommodation while you on tour
  • to have a personal guide who shares his insider knowledge
  • to stop in a small town and discover another lovely market which is not on the agenda of the big tour companies
  • a hassle-free driving tour to well-known and secret Christmas markets, even in wintry conditions
Then a private guided tour is the best choice for you!
A customised private tour is not as expensive as you might think. Especially multi-day tours have fairly competitive prices.

Sure, your freedom to go off the beaten track is slightly more expensive than a commercial tour. But isn't your once-in-a-lifetime Christmas market tour worth an extra dollar?

Fill in the form on the right to get in contact with a native German tour guide.

christmas market at night
Christmas market in Miltenberg
This is one of the less-known markets, but a very pretty one!
The market opens from Friday to Sunday on all four Advent weekends.

Contact our tour partner for a quote and to elaborate your personal itinerary

Contact Markus to inquire about a private tour

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Hi Rita, Just wanted to touch base again and say thank you for all of your tips and putting us in touch with Markus. We ended up hiring Markus to do Rothenburg and Nuremberg on Friday and then he took us to Freiburg, Gengenbach, Baden Baden and Speyer on Saturday. He was wonderful. He spent 12 hour days with us and there wasn't anything I asked of him that he didn't do it.
We loved Germany & hope to come back again & maybe do a couple of the bigger cities. Again, thanks for your assistance and all the best, Ellen.

Now you are in Christmas mood, aren't you? Here are more Christmas inspirations


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