The world feels at home in Cologne, where people meet for a Kölsch, a chat or simply a laugh. Life in Cologne is vivacious.
Winter and summer – Cologne is equally enticing. In winter and in the run-up to Christmas, the city radiates a special kind of atmosphere. Who wouldn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling inside with winter scents floating by in the air, pretty sounds ringing out, and a city that is ablaze with light?
Cologne’s Christmas markets are among the best there are. Year on year, from the 25th November until the 23rd December, they enchant hundreds of thousands of visitors. There are a total of seven markets in the city. The best known is the Christmas market at the cathedral. In the shadow of the famous landmark, under a magnificent Christmas tree, no one can escape the Christmas mood. The market at Neumarkt is also particularly alluring. New is the gay-lesbian Christmas market just off Rudolfplatz.
To the Christmas markets
Photos of the Christmas markets
New Year in Cologne – now that really is something to write home about. Each year hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors from all across the planet enjoy the midnight fireworks against the magical backdrop of Cologne’s cityscape. In addition to this, Cologne has plenty of other things on offer. More
As the temperatures drop, locals and visitors alike strap on their skates and go for a spin on the ice. When it’s time for a break, grab a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine. This sporty treat can be enjoyed in the rinks at the Lanxess Arena and in the Lentpark, but also on rinks set up especially for the festive period at Playa Winterland near the Sport University (from 25th November) and at Heumarkt in the city centre (25th November until 4th January, daily from 10 am until 10.00pm). Skate hire is available.
The route of the nativity scenes
More than 100 nativity scenes are laid out around the city centre from 26th November until 6th January 2013. The nativity scenes can be found at publically accessible places such as shop windows, cultural and religious institutions, and of course in many of Cologne’s churches. Find out more
The Cathedral at Christmas
There is a very special feel to the cathedral at Christmas. Inside is the great Cologne nativity scene, and numerous church services invite visitors to reflect on the true reason for the Christmas celebrations. A particular highlight is the play-and-sing-along advent concert on the 8th December (2.30pm) in the cathedral. 4000 people, mainly children and teenagers, bring along their instruments to take part, and visitors are warmly welcome to join in the sing-song.
Concerts and events
The Cologne Philharmonic entices visitors in the run-up to Christmas with first-class concerts with a festive feel. To the overview
The negative side of Christmas is, of course, the traffic. Due to the huge numbers of visitors, there are always traffic jams and obstructions in the city centre, and the car parks are often full. For a stress-free visit take public transport.
Photos: Joachim Rieger, Imago