Köln Weihnachtsmarkt Blackfoot Beach
This year's Christmas markets reflect Cologne's vibrancy. If you're looking to avoid the busier ones, we've got a few suggestions. Photo: Blackfoot Beach

‘Tis the season to be jolly: six alternative places to enjoy a mug of mulled wine in Cologne

Cologne has some great alternative Christmas markets for those looking for something a little different Here are six to take a look at.

1. Fair, sustainable and handmade: Super Weihnachtsmarkt

Commerce of a sustainable kind: Super Weihnachtsmarkt Photo: Anna Jaissle

Christmas is a time for your loved ones – and for shopping! But buying gifts doesn’t necessarily have to be detrimental to the environment, as the sustainable Super Weihnachtsmarkt at Bürgerhaus Stollwerk proves.

Every year, on the third weekend of the Advent period, the market brings together around 60 local fashion, interior, pottery and jewellery designers to sell their most innovative creations. All fair, sustainable and handmade. As if that weren’t enough, there’s homemade, organic food for visitors to feast on too. Whoever said Christmas shopping couldn’t do good?

Bürgerhaus Stollwerk, 10 and 11 December, 11am to 7pm, admission 5 euros

2. Glühwein trails

With or without gloves – a mug of mulled wine helps keep you warm. Photo: Adobe Stock

A glühwein trail is like a wine trail but just that little bit more laid-back. Invented during the pandemic, these routes take you to stalls outside cafés and pubs and have become quite a trend in the festive season.

If you think about it, exploring a neighbourhood with a steaming mug of mulled wine in your hands isn’t just a way of protecting yourself from viruses – you also get to know more of the local gastro scene. Some of the nicest trails this year pass through the districts of Südstadt, Neuehrenfeld, Agnesviertel, Sülz-Klettenberg and the Belgian Quarter.

Times vary. For details of the top glühwein trails, take a look here.

3. Körnerstraße courtyard Christmas market

We’ll drink to that! Keeping warm with a mug of mulled wine.

Körnerstraße in Cologne’s Ehrenfeld district is known for having a functioning neighbourhood community where people still know each other and help each other out. Sometimes, they even organise street parties together.

It was this neighbourliness that gave birth to the new courtyard Christmas market. Residents set up stalls in their courtyards, gardens and drives and the local shops and eateries add to the festive spirit with seasonal specialities.

Körnerstraße, 3 December, free admission

4. Christmas market at Bumann & Sohn in Ehrenfeld

At Christmastime, mulled wine and gifts change hands at Bumann und Sohn instead of the usual cool kölsch. Photo: Bumann und Sohn

With its long bar, Bumann & Sohn in the Ehrenfeld district is a popular place to start a night of partying in Cologne. But they know how to serve up some seasonal spirit too. In the run-up to Christmas, the quaint courtyard is filled with stalls where visitors can enjoy traditional fare and do a spot of Christmas shopping. This being Bumann & Sohn, there’s still a touch of party spirit, provided by performances featuring a range of artists and genres.

Bumann & Sohn, Bartholomäus-Schink-Straße 2, Mon–Fri from 5pm, Sat and Sun from 2pm, until 23 December, free admission

5. Rooftop Xmas: a glüh with a view

Visitors to Rooftop Xmas get a fantastic view of the city bathed in light. Photo: All rights owned by Rainer Medefindt

At the Rooftop Xmas market on top of the Brückenstraße multi-storey car park, you can take in Cologne’s Christmassy skyline as you sip on a mug of mulled wine. The concept here is a modern, upmarket look composed of high-quality materials and simple designs.

The items on sale include contemporary handicrafts, sweet and savoury specialities and first-rate mulled wine straight from the grower. In addition, groups and companies can book seats at the Dom View pop-up restaurant (heated and roofed) to enjoy a full-course menu as part of their Christmas celebrations.

Top floor of Brückenstraße multi-storey car park, Ludwigstraße 1, Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm, Fri 4pm-midnight, Sat 3pm-midnight and Sun 3pm-10pmr, runs until 23 December

6. Cologne’s smallest Christmas market

The market that Ponyhof KG organise may be small but it does big things for good causes. Photo: Kai-Uwe Fischer

The theme at Cologne’s smallest Christmas market is Glühwein for a better world”. Located in the courtyard of the Lutherkirche church in the Südstadt district, there are stalls selling hot mulled wine, cool kölsch and a varying range of culinary delights against a musical backdrop provided by on-stage acts.

The event is organised by Ponyhof KG, who are part of Cologne’s karneval scene and aim to promote diversity and fairness in the pursuit of local customs. For each mug of mulled wine sold, 50 cents go to the performers and the rest of the entire proceeds from the market are donated to good causes, mainly projects to stop starvation and enhance education in developing countries.

Lutherkirche, Martin-Luther-Platz 4, Weds-Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 3pm-10pm, until 17 December, free admission, all proceeds will be donated to good causes, all of the workers are volunteers

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