Five wonderful experiences in festive Dusseldorf
The most beautiful time of the year can be experienced in the city’s culture and cuisine – and even on the water
What kind of person are you? The kind who gets the Christmas decorations out at the first sign of autumn to give them a good dusting off? The kind who can’t wait to wrap up warm and stroll around the Christmas market, trying everything from mulled wine to baked apples? The kind that spends all year getting presents together, so that stress – if any – only raises its head when it comes to deciding which Christmas movie to watch next? Or are you more of a Grinch, wondering why all this fuss about a totally commercialised holiday where we all just hand out presents that no one needs anyway? What we can say for certain is that Düsseldorf will be right up your street if the festive season at the end of December is your favourite time of the year. And we’re equally certain that we can win you over if all the spectacle brings out the sceptic in you. We’d bet good money that we can increase your enthusiasm levels in an instant!
Christmas markets – an annual highlight
If you’re enjoying the smell of roasted chestnuts and almonds while sipping on a hot mulled wine and swaying along to classic yuletide songs, you’re probably at one of the city’s many Christmas markets. The festivities kick off in late November in the old quarter in front of the town hall, on Königsallee (Kö-Lichter market) and on Gustav-Gründgens-Platz. Until the end of December (excluding Christmas Day itself), you can buy Christmas tree decorations and nativity figures – often handmade – and admire the variety of festively decorated stalls. The market at Benrath Palace also focuses on artisan crafts, while you can buy anything from bobble hats to festive food in the welcoming atmosphere of the markets in Pempelfort, Oberkassel and Kaiserswerth, for example. What could be better than a spot of shopping followed by a warming hot drink? Sharing it with friends who are also heading for the Christmas market, that’s what!
Getting in some festive exercise
The weather hasn’t always played ball in recent years, and white Christmases have often been confined to picture books and TV screens. But who knows, maybe it will be frosty enough this year to go ice skating on the lakes? If not, and that seems most likely, you can always perform pirouettes on the rink at the northern end of Königsallee. You might even draw a round of applause from the people gathered there to watch. For something a little less public, how about the weekly disco at Düsseldorf’s ice sports centre in Benrath? Here you can do your circuits to some of music’s all-time greats, maybe even hand in hand with someone else. Or perhaps you’ve always admired the way that ice hockey players control the puck? Maybe you’ve dreamt of shooting the puck into the back of the net so fast that your opponent can hardly see it? Well, you can watch the players of Düsseldorf’s professional ice hockey team do just that at the PSD Bank Dome in Rath. Don’t forget to wear your red and white fan merchandise!
Christmas baking with the professionals
Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked biscuits, wouldn’t you agree? We would probably all love it if ovens were on all the time churning out vanillekipferl cookies, lebkuchen and cinnamon stars. If you enjoy making them yourself, you can find a huge selection of moulds, trays and all manner of sprinkles and toppings at Cake Mart (Friedrichstrasse 35), Cucina (Carlsplatz 24) and Butch (Tussmannstrasse 63). If you prefer to leave the hours of kneading and icing to the pros, Düsseldorf is home to many bakeries and pastry shops. You can get your fix of festive treats at Hinkel (Mittelstrasse 25, Hohe Strasse 31), Hercules (Ulmenstrasse 120), Pure Freude (Hohe Strasse 19), Bulle (Oststrasse 113, Birkenstrasse 55), and Schüren (Luegallee 93, Rethelstrasse 144, Nordstrasse 77), for example. You can either choose a take-away or enjoy them there and then. After all, can anyone say, hand on heart, that they’d be able to resist?
Joy to the World – festive dining
Despite all the preparation in the world, what many see as the most magical time of the year can often involve a lot or work. After the mammoth task of baking and Christmas shopping, there’s the wrapping of presents and the decorating of the tree. And has anyone thought of writing the Christmas cards yet? It seems all the more important then to appreciate what should be a fun time of the year, so take time out with family and friends to enjoy a really good Christmas dinner. Many restaurants offer festive menus during the run-up to Christmas. Brasserie Stadthaus (Mühlenstrasse 31), for example, offers a jazz dinner featuring wild mushroom soup, venison ragout and a chocolate, nut and coffee cake. The award-winning team at Le Flair (Marc-Chagall-Strasse 108) serve up a Michelin-starred feast on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. More exquisite French cuisine is available at Le Bouchon (Blücherstrasse 70). Breidenbacher Hof (Königsallee 11) presents its Adventstee festive tea, accompanied by scones, brioche and baked apples, among other things. We all know that calories are not be counted during the final weeks of the year, so tuck in!
The charm of Christmas bells at Christmas concerts
As the number of emails and meetings wanes, as shifts get shorter for a change and even construction sites start to wind down, it’s time to grasp the opportunity to indulge in familiar traditions. Some events only happen once a year, making them even more unmissable. The Christmas opera is one example, where the musicians invite children to their ‘Weihnachtsbäckerei’ Christmas bakery. There are also festive concerts – of both the pop and classical genres – at the Tonhalle concert hall, the Capitol theatre and Benrath Palace.
Silent night, holy night: a trip on the Rhine
For many, the festive season offers an opportunity to look back on the year gone by, and often the best way to do that is from a distance. For example, from the water. You can unwind on a KD riverboat and watch the lights of the Christmas market pass by from afar. They run on various dates in November and December and there are also evening tours, which include a buffet. As you cruise along on the Rhine and Last Christmas plays in the background, all will be well with the world, at least for a moment.
This contribution is funded by REACT-EU.
Pictures: Düsseldorf Tourism