Three reasons to be cheerful – how to get into the Christmas spirit!
Live the joys of the season to the full
The festive season has started, but somehow you just can’t get into the mood? Perhaps you’ve simply not been in the right place at the right time. But even if there’s no snow, Düsseldorf really does go above and beyond when it comes to Advent activities, without ever resorting to tired yuletide clichés. Do you associate Christmas with a particular sound, a certain smell or a specific setting? Why not take some me-time and create your very own (pre-)Christmas story? Below are three suggestions that will fill you with festive joy and make the wait for the big celebrations go more quickly.
Visit a Christmas market
The shorter the days, the stronger the urge for something that will nurture both body and spirit. And where better to find it than at a Christmas market? That’s not just down to the glühwein, although no Christmas market would be complete without this seasonal mulled drink. There’s even a very tasty white wine variant, which you can find in various places, for example at the Artisan Market in front of Düsseldorf city hall. But what matters much more than the individual elements is the overall experience. This is where the six themed markets in Düsseldorf’s city centre really come into their own. Together they combine to form a huge Christmas world filled with decorations and tempting smells that stretches roughly from Burgplatz square to Schadowstrasse. But if you like roasted chestnuts, crêpes or waffles, if you’ve never been able to resist a freshly grilled bratwurst or if you’ve still not tracked down the perfect presents for your loved ones, then it could also well be worth paying a visit to one of the local Christmas markets in other parts of the city – particularly the one at Benrath Palace. On the weekends of the period leading up to Christmas, the palace courtyard is filled with little wooden huts offering festive wares – everything from craft items, premium wool products and amber jewellery to natural cosmetics and truffle oil. There’s also no shortage of refreshments, including special treats like flamed-grilled salmon, curly fries and Japanese food. And all of it set against the romantic backdrop of Benrath Palace. While you’re in Benrath, be sure to take a look round the little Christmas village in the pedestrian area. Or instead of visiting the south of Düsseldorf you could venture to the north of the city. The Christmas market on Klemensplatz square in historical Kaiserswerth runs every day until the end of December. On the first Sunday of Advent, four weeks before Christmas, the local shops are also open for Sunday trading. The same is true of Oberkassel, which has a small Christmas village at the entrance to Belsenpark until 23 December. The three main events here are live music, puppet theatre and a children’s cinema. If you enjoy the neighbourly vibe in and around Nordstrasse, check out the 30 or so Christmas market stalls in the Pempelfort district’s shopping street, where there’ll be ample opportunity to enjoy festive chat with the locals until 30 December.
Enjoy the festive illuminations
Christmas lights sparkle, glitter and radiate yuletide splendour – we certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on these dazzling magical moments. Luckily we don’t have to. People may be more energy-conscious these days, but the Christmas markets will never go dark. However, the new mantra is very much ‘less is more’. Many places have opted for less spectacle in favour of more genuine warmth and good cheer. Fir trees decorated with simple fairy lights or an imaginatively illuminated facade can go a long way to putting people into a festive mood. When it comes to atmospheric illuminations, this year’s winner is probably a tie between the Christmas market at Benrath Palace – a fairytale setting in itself – and the Artisan Market in front of Düsseldorf city hall. The latter has two standout features. One is a magnificent Christmas tree, adorned with fairy lights, red baubles and golden stars, that stands at the foot of the statue of Duke Jan Wellem, surrounded by numerous smaller trees. The other is the city hall itself, which is also lit up for the season. The wooden huts of the Artisan Market reflect the style of this Renaissance building and add to the overall atmosphere. Just around the corner is another ‘brilliant’ highlight, the Wheel of Vision, a dazzling Ferris wheel on Burgplatz square that is lit up in a range of beautiful colours. Rather than just admiring it from afar, you could get on board to see the lights of the city from a lofty height of 55 metres (until early January). You can even make your own contribution to the illuminations. A bicycle near the Christmas market huts in front of the wheel is used to generate electricity for the Christmas tree lights. Everyone is welcome to get pedalling. The Christmas tree in the Schadow Arcades is a less interactive and somewhat futuristic spectacle. The installation that stands beneath the glass dome of this shopping centre is a large tree fitted with thousands of LEDs and brightly coloured baubles. Hugely impressive and totally instagrammable. Whereas the tree made of lots of small Lego bricks in the window of a luxury designer on nearby Königsallee does away with illuminations altogether.
Attend a Christmas concert
Did you know that Düsseldorf has around 200 concert organs? So if you’re in need of a break from the seasonal stress, how about attending an organ recital? There is something uplifting about losing yourself in the music and surrendering completely to the sound of a mighty instrument. You’ll get a warm, comfortable feeling, without the need for tea or glühwein. St Lambert’s basilica in the old quarter has been holding its international organ recitals for more than 20 years. On the first Monday of every month, you can enjoy performances on its large Rieger organ, modelled on French cathedral organs. An even older event, dating back to 1980, is the weekly Marktmusik (market music) series of organ recitals, held every Saturday at 11.30am at the Church of St Maximilian – affectionately known as ‘Maxkirche’. You could always follow a visit with a stroll across nearby Carlsplatz square, the perfect place to track down the right ingredients for your Christmas menu. We don’t know about you, but as far as we’re concerned, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is an essential part of the festive season. The Church of the Resurrection in Oberkassel had the classic work on its schedule in December 2022. But perhaps you’d rather be singing yourself? Then Düsseldorf offers plenty of choice in December – from more traditional carol singing for the whole family all the way to special pre-Christmas ‘Rudelsingen’, a type of mass-karaoke event accompanied by live musicians. Or how about a Christmas concert at the Haus der Universität (University House) on Schadowplatz square, featuring the up-and-coming young musicians of the Robert Schumann conservatory’s brass ensemble? If you’re after something a bit livelier, the Christmas gigs by (in)famous local rock band Porno al Forno are legendary. Most recently, the band supported fellow rockers Massendefekt from Meerbusch at their 21st anniversary show. Düsseldorf punk rockers The Broilers staged a double-header with their Santa’s Action-Club on 22 and 23 December 2022. The flyer promised 70% escalation and 30% contemplation. Expect all this and more during the festive season in Düsseldorf!
This contribution is funded by REACT-EU.
Pictures: Düsseldorf Tourism