Days are getting shorter, and the fancy lights glitter all over the city. The Glow festival, a proud feather on the Dutch cap, is warming our spirits along with the gluwein. Oliebollen aroma is in the air, and everyone’s busy, a wonderful sight after fearful two years. And still, there’s hope that this winter will put an end to the Ukraine war.
Christmas markets are opening again without the fear of being asked to close anytime. People have about six weeks to enjoy the Christmas markets, so there isn’t time to visit many. So let’s find out about the Top Christmas markets in the region and soak in the Christmas spirit.
Rightly called Winter wonders, it is the biggest Christmas market in Belgium, with 2.5 million annual visitors. The great classics are all awaiting you: magnificent Sound and Light shows at the Grand Place, a majestic tree, a life-sized manger, a skating rink, magical lights and many exhibitions which dot the event and, of course, amazing Christmas markets bursting with treasures which will delight the curious and titillate the gourmets’ taste buds.
Open from 25 November 2022 to 1 January 2023.
The Christmas markets in Cologne are among the most beautiful ones in Germany. Its Christmas tree is ranked among the most beautiful Christmas trees in Europe. You’re sure to be enchanted by this metropolis on the banks of the Rhine, especially during this Christmas fervour. Not being tempted by the individually crafted artisan handicrafts and culinary specialities at this market is a tall order.
Open from 21 November to 23 December 2022.
There are several Christmas markets in Düsseldorf, all located in the Old Town area (Altstadt). Düsseldorf boasts new features such as a 1700-square-metre and a new Fairy Tale Market that invites all visitors, especially families with children, to experience the pre-Christmas magic. In addition, there will be a children’s activities tent on Jan-Wellem-Platz with shows every day.
Open from 17 November to 30 December 2022.
The Aachen Christmas market is shrouded in radiant light around the town hall and the Charlemagne. About four weeks before Christmas, the squares and alleys turn into a Christmas village; the twinkling lights and whiff of Glühwein and Print cookies make for a cosy atmosphere. The tourist office of Aachen has exclusive deals and packages for Christmas market visitors.
Open from 18 Nov to 23 December 2022.
A word of caution when visiting German Christmas markets:
Certain German cities (e.g., Cologne) require cars to have an environmental sticker (Umwelt -Plakette) when driving through the city centre. Winter tyres are mandatory in Germany, and besides, you may want to check on the Autobahn regulations. Obtaining the Umwelt-Plakette in Germany may not be easy (most garages are closed on Saturdays) and is only possible at the car dealers of your car brand. It is best to buy these in advance in the Netherlands.
It’s a relief to know that you no longer need to go to neighbouring countries to visit an authentic Christmas market. A visit to the Vrijthof in South Limburg’s capital gets a nostalgic edge. The inner city square is a scene to behold of wooden chalets with red roofs and garlands, an illuminated Ferris wheel and a large skating rink; this is Magical Maastricht. There is plenty to do at the Christmas market in Maastricht. Pirouettes or fumbling on the skates, sink your teeth into an oliebol, drink mulled wine, score handmade gifts and take pictures from above from the Ferris wheel. Moreover, your children will have fun on the merry-go-round or the covered giant slide.
Open from 1 to 31 December 2022.