Long known as ground zero for trade fairs, Germany’s Düsseldorf is home to premier holiday shopping at its Christmas market. This holiday fair is not a diminutive affair, but easily holds its own among more famous European markets.
Holiday Shopping in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital of North Rhine Westphalia and nestled along the banks of the River Rhine. Toward the end of November, the Königsallee (“die Kö“) – Düsseldorf’s equivalent to L.A.’s Rodeo Drive – transforms into a bona fide Christmas market with bright lights and all the sights and sounds that make the search for holiday gifts so appealing.
Timeframe for the Düsseldorf Christmas Market
This holiday fair begins in earnest on November 19th and lasts until December 23rd. On Sundays through Thursdays, the holiday market operates from 11 AM until 8 PM; on Fridays and Saturdays it remains open until 9 PM. On the second Sunday of December – known to die-hard shoppers as “Verkaufsoffener Sonntag,” the equivalent to Black Friday – it opens only between the hours of 1 PM and 6 PM.
Düsseldorf Christmas Market in All Its Glory
Go holiday shopping at more than 250 Christmas market booths. Rather than placing the entire holiday market in just one jam-packed locale, these booths are distributed in smaller clusters all around downtown’s Kö. Head over to the gratis ice skating rink at the Gustaf Gründgens Platz, which is a new attraction this year. Other booths are located at the town hall’s Marktplatz.
Plan on spending a bit of extra time at the holiday market quarter surrounding the statue of Jan Wellem. It is there that glassblowers, candle makers and iron workers show off their skills and sell their wares. Other holiday gift buying opportunities are found at the Heinrich Heine Platz, Bürgermarkt and also the Schadowplatz.
The latter is a constant favorite for the kids, since it is there that the Christmas market’s 100 year old carousel and traditional puppet theater take place. Puppet shows are scheduled daily at 3 PM and 5 PM.
Traditional Holiday Gifts
Shopping at Düsseldorf’s Christmas market means stepping away from the Wal-Mart fare of cookie cutter toys and cheap plastic playthings. Instead, this holiday fair offers ceramics and pottery, sweets, whimsical Christmas decorations, handmade jewelry, bird houses and birdseed, wood carvings, handmade candles, tinplate toys, paintings, socks and gloves and everyone’s favorite: roasted chestnuts.
Where to Meet?
Traditionally, the mulled-wine pyramid (Glühweinpyramide) at the Heinrich Heine Platz is the place to meet and connect. Of course, this year the Gustaf Gründgens Platz makes for another excellent meeting place.