The magic of the German Christmas Market in Dusseldorf
Christmas Markets have become increasingly popular in England and Winter Wonderland seems to be growing bigger and bigger every year. However, if you want to experience the real deal then a trip to a German Christmas Market is a must and there is still time for a flying visit this year!
Last weekend, I ventured to Dusseldorf to celebrate the arrival of the festive season, which incidentally coincides with my Birthday. I love everything about Christmas so it was the perfect treat and while I had previously experienced the British version of a Christmas Market, I was also told that nothing compares to the authentic German tradition.
The historic markets have been a popular attraction for years and they occupy almost every nook and cranny in German cities and villages during December. As soon as I arrived in Dusseldorf, I went straight towards the city centre to experience the enchantment.
The atmosphere is utterly charming and as you approach the market area, you can smell chestnuts roasting on fires. There is an array of pretty huts that are lit up with fairy lights and festively decorated. You can buy anything from sparkling jewellery to beautiful wreaths and traditional German-baked treats or unique toys.
One of the striking differences between visiting a German Christmas Market and the British equivalent is that they completely take over the area. Rather than being constrained to a certain part of the city, the markets are sprawling and different ‘mini markets’ are hidden around every corner.
In Dusseldorf the Christmas Markets line most streets in the city centre and there are seven key clusters where popup bars feature. Here, you can stop for a glass of spiced Glühwein or the local Altbier, which is served in a small glass to ensure that it stays chilled for as long as possible.
Altbier is brewed at nine of the permanent bars in the city and in Uerige the barmen serve only Altbier from a large tray as they walk through the traditional pub. It is a great place to stop-off as you pass through the markets and each beer earns you a strike on the beer mat, which is used as a tally for the bill.
Of the seven key festive areas, I liked the “Sternchenmarkt” best and this translates to “Little Star Market”. It is located in the courtyard of Wilhelm-Marx-Haus and large, starry lights have been hung from wires above the area to give the scene an extra bit of magic. The festive huts in this area also sell some of the more upmarket offerings, which include gorgeous hand-crafted wooden serving dishes and a beautiful selection of Christmas ornaments.
Another highlight is the “Engelchenmarkt” (“Little Angel Market”) on Heinrich-Heine-Platz, which includes a music pavilion on Heinrich-Heine-Platz. The Christmas Market on Flinger Straße is also a pretty seasonal walkway and the hut facades are modelled on Düsseldorf’s old townhouses. If you want to enjoy some ice-skating there is a large ice rink on Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, which is framed with delicatessens that include an impressive cheese stand.
I recommend visiting Dusseldorf for at least one night as this will enable you to browse the markets on the first day and then return for specific purchases the next. This will also give you an opportunity to enjoy a luxurious hotel stay.
During my visit to the city, I resided at the Hyatt Regency, which is located in the Media Harbour. It only takes approximately 20 minutes to walk to the Christmas Market along the river or just over five minutes in a taxi.
The 19 storey building has floor-to-ceiling glass windows in most of the rooms, which means it offers guests a panoramic view of Dusseldorf that is particularly special at night. One of the big office buildings that my room overlooked embraced the festivities by leaving only certain rooms lit up in order to make the shape of a Christmas tree!
The Hyatt was also sophisticatedly decorated and being located in the cultural area of Dusseldorf means it possess a contemporary interior. The Regency Club is located on the top floor and, like the rooms, offers far-reaching views over the city. The DOX restaurant is popular with locals and guests alike, with the traditional continental breakfast a real highlight.
Although there is not a pool, the huge Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are great if you want to warm up after a wintery walk through the Christmas Market.
So, for those who fancy a truly magical overnight trip this month, I thoroughly recommend flying to Dusseldorf to soak up the holiday season traditions, whilst also indulging in a luxury getaway.
The Düsseldorf Christmas Market runs from the 21st of November to the 23rd of December 2013 in the city centre. Opening times: 21 November to 23 December 2013, daily from 11.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. (Sundays to Thursdays) and to 9.00 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays). Shops open on Sunday, 15th December, 13:00–18:00. Book a stay at the Hyatt Regency: Speditionstrasse, 19, Dusseldorf, Germany, 40221; Tel: +49 211 9134 1234; Fax: +49 211 9134 1235; firstname.lastname@example.org