All hail to the world of Christmas! With magic, mince pies and mayhem for the masses, Christmas markets pull in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year all on the search for the best gifts and decorations their pennies can buy. For me, this festive time has always been about winding down and spending time with people I care about plus a little bit of sparkle. Like most I indulge at this time of year, but my indulgence is to surround myself with as much Christmas spirit as possible either by making decorations, baking, listening to yuletide tunes, (okay singing badly to yuletide tunes) or following my elf-like nose to Christmas events.
As you may well have guessed, I am a bit of a fan. So imagine my excitement when I was invited on a Christmas market trip to Germany! It may have taken us 10 hours to get there, but get there we did, and I can heartily say it was worth every minute of cramped coach time. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Dusseldorf was our base in Germany and a hearty location to get stuck into. A city of two parts, with the Rhine river running through it, Dusseldorf is best known for its art and fashion.
A hub of culture, sightseers can visit numerous galleries and museums to satisfy the hardiest of fans. Other attractions include the 18th century Baroque palace of Schloss Benrath and a viewing platform and revolving restaurant at the Rheinturm.
As the festive seasons approaches the city hosts four main markets with many smaller ones scattered in between. The old (Altstadt) and new (Neumarkt) of the town are popular as well as the central Angel market. Each market has its own theme and lulls you into a world of wonder with rows upon rows of wooden huts proudly displaying the wares of their friendly owners. I was impressed to hear sellers changing between 3 or 4 languages depending on their customers and felt immensely lazy with my limited German vocabulary.
At night, the markets come into their own. Nothing makes you feel more festive, than being surrounded by Christmas music, twinkling lights and the laughter of people talking and laughing together. The country’s people make a point of meeting friends for Gluhwein after a day of work and the markets are buzzing until their closure around 8pm.
Vibrant nightlife with lively bars including a much-loved Irish pub, make Dusseldorf a popular destination for stags and hens. Those who prefer a rich, culinary experience will not be disappointed with the array of international restaurants, bakeries and coffee houses. Once you are shopped out and full of warming food, visitors can stroll along the embankment promenade for fantastic views of the city.
Dusseldorf is a university city and does have a young feel in terms of the people, in spite of its historic surroundings. The markets give the city a completely magical feel with the squares providing a cosy, welcoming atmosphere.
Check out part 2 to find out about our next stop…the twin-spire city of Cologne