Germany has officially ruined me for celebrating Christmas anywhere else in the world. Sure I feel a sense of loyalty to my own traditions (sun, swimming, bbqs…) but as soon as the Christmas markets open here and I see the lights in the trees, smell roasted chestnuts and waffles and taste that first mouthful of reibekuchen, I am prepared to forsake all other Christmas traditions!
Unless you’ve been working around the clock, or living in a cellar, it would be hard not to have noticed that the Christmas markets are here in full force. Altstadt is now overflowing with wooden huts selling all manner of Christmas wares – from woolen hats to jars of honey. Make sure you visit Marktplatz where just next to the giant Christmas tree you’ll find artisans at work including glass blowers and wood carvers. Markets can be found throughout the city and suburbs – including around the lake at the beautiful Schloss Benrath (if you hurry you’ll catch the last of the autumn leaves).
And if you feel the need to work off some of the Christmas calories, the ice skating rink at the end of the Königsallee, installed for the first time this year, is a wonderful addition to the city’s festive celebrations. With almost 2000 square metres of ice at your disposal, you can skate to your heart’s content…and then warm up afterwards with a hearty glass of glühwein!
If this is your first market a couple of things to note – don’t forget to take cash. Most stalls will not take cards. When purchasing drinks you will often be asked to pay a Pfand – this is a deposit on the glass that you will get back if/when you return it. Many people like to keep the mugs as souvenirs. And in case you’re wondering, yes you can eat Lebkuchenherzen – the heart-shaped gingerbreads you’ll see hanging around the markets. But you’ll also see many people hanging them as keepsakes as they will keep for months if stored at room temperature.
If markets aren’t quite your thing but you still want to get into the festive spirit we’ve got you covered! Enjoy!
– Make your own Glühwein –
1 Litre dry red wine
50 ml Rum
2 oranges, cut in slices
2 oranges, juiced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
50gr. brown sugar
Heat the wine with all spices and oranges. Keep on low temperature, do not bring to boil! Once it is hot, add Rum and sugar and keep on low heat. Cheers!