The Fabled Old Market
For a holiday-themed glimpse into Cologne folklore, look no further than the Alter Markt, also known as the Old Market. Once upon a time, Heinzelmännchen (or house gnomes) were said to have secretly done all the daily work of its inhabitants before a curious wife attempted to get a glimpse of the fabled creatures. The gnomes immediately took off, never to return. Still, Cologne continues to celebrate the legend (and perhaps hope for their return) with this market. Gnomes lurk in every nook and cranny here, in between themed alleyways of specialty foods and fashion accessories and artisanal gifts. A roundabout puppet theater and special Santa Claus Quarter are always fun to bring out the kid in everyone, no matter their age.
Pirates in the Harbour Market
One of the newer markets on the scene, the Harbour Christmas Market celebrates Cologne’s maritime presence along with the holidays. After all, tis the season to be merry, bright and seaside as you cruise from port to port. An impressive three-mast wooden boat 50 feet wide and docked in the harbor serves mulled wine specialties out of its hull. Nearby, 70 festively decorated pagoda tents with pointed, billowed roofs further embrace the sea-loving spirit, reminding you of the planks and sails of a ship. “Rhine Pirates” wander through the park, delighting guests with sailor’s yarns and pirate juggling – as other entertainers sing sea shanties along with traditional German Christmas songs.
Embracing Love on Christmas Avenue
Launched in 2012, Christmas Avenue is another relative yuletide newbie and is the perfect way to rock the holiday in LGBT and old German style. Pink, purple and sometimes glittering chalets celebrate the season here in the Deutschland LGBT capitol. An estimated 10% of the population is gay in Cologne and the annual festival is located in the heart of the gay district. Always fun, loud and sensational, this is a market like no other. Along with some more traditional gifts, you’ll also find pink nutcrackers and purple pottery to get you in the festive spirit.
Markets from a Storybook
The idyllic market on the Stadtgarten, full of unusual holiday trinkets, and the charming Rudolfplatz are other fun spots. A small train, the Christmas-Market-Express drives through streets of the old city and links visitors to four of the major markets.
Experience Cologne's most festive season of the year when sailing on our Christmas Markets on the Rhine river cruise.