Six Christmas markets in magical castle settings

For many of the people of Rhineland-Palatinate, Advent is the most wonderful time of the year. As the fragrance of Christmas spices gently creeps through the village, the streets and squares of the picture-postcard old towns gradually fill with life and the historic façades are bathed in twinkling lights, then it is time for the Christmas markets in our wonderfully varied state to open their doors. The mulled wine, often prepared by the local winemakers themselves, the hearty fare, mostly from our region, and thousands of years of history add up to create some unique historical settings within Rhineland-Palatinate. Among the absolute highlights of the run-up to Christmas are events held against the impressive backdrops of the magnificent buildings across our region, and we have put together a small selection of the most charming Christmas markets at our castles and palaces:

1. Reichsburg Castle in Cochem

On the third weekend of Advent, you can enjoy ‘Christmas at the Castle’ at the Reichsburg Castle, which towers high above the Moselle in Cochem. A climb up through the historic old town takes you first to the outer bailey, where you are greeted by a shepherd in period costume. He will lead you through the real-life Nativity scene, a lovingly crafted re-enactment of the Christmas story featuring lay actors and real animals.

Once in the inner courtyard of the castle, you feel like a lord from a bygone era, as you gently stroll past the different stalls, perhaps picking up a little treat or two and enjoying the wonderful views of the twinkling lights on the ships and the festive decorations in the old town, with the water and the steep slopes transforming the Moselle valley into a breathtaking sea of lights.

Illuminated Reichsburg Castle in Cochem in the evening, Moselle valley

View of the illuminated Reichsburg Castle in Cochem in the evening, Moselle valley

2. Rheinstein Castle in Trechtingshausen

But the life of a castle lord is not just about the courtyard, it is often a glimpse behind the centuries-old walls, which gives you a real feel for the life of the noblemen who once lived there. At Rheinstein Castle in the Middle Rhine Valley, visitors can explore the interior of the romantic palace. The ‘Magical Christmas Castle’ opens its doors throughout the Advent period, sending you on a trip back in time to the world of daring knights, dragons and damsels in distress.

The fairy-tale world in the knights’ hall is brought to life with hundreds of glittering lights, and meanwhile the squire proves his mettle by fighting the dragon on the terrace. In the Burgundy Garden, you are treated to fine delicacies from the Romantic Rhine, all prepared in the castle kitchen.

Magical Christmas Castle in Trechtingshausen, Romantic Rhine

View of the "Magical Christmas Castle" Burg Rheinstein in Trechtingshausen, Romantic Rhine

3. Arenfels Castle in Bad Hönningen

Further north along the Rhine, the picturesque Arenfels Castle sits atop the hills above the village of Bad Hönningen. You can visit the ‘Romantic Christmas Market’ held here every weekend in Advent. Your stroll around the festive forecourt and through the castle is accompanied by various musicians providing a perfect Christmas ambience, and at most of the stalls you can watch talented craftsmen and old-fashioned tradesmen going about their delicate work.

The blacksmith and the turner even ply their trades against the stunning backdrop of the Rhine. You can also enjoy fresh bread, baked using traditional methods. What could be better than soaking up the atmosphere with a steaming loaf of bread and perhaps warming your hands with a glass or two of mulled wine?

Christmas market at Arenfels Castle in Bad Hönningen, Romantic Rhine

Romantic Christmas market at Arenfels Castle in Bad Hönningen, Romantic Rhine

4. Satzvey Castle in Mechernich

One particular spot in the Eifel allows you to enjoy hot chestnuts, lovely decorated stalls, a Nativity scene, Father Christmas with his elves and much more in the run-up to Christmas! Satzvey Castle near Mechernich offers visitors to its ‘Castle Christmas’ a varied programme of entertainment and handmade regional specialities where you are bound to find a little souvenir or a last-minute Christmas present for your loved ones.

One of the highlights is the Nativity scene in the costumes and language of the Hohenstaufen period. The Christmas story is told in Latin and Middle High German, but fear not, the narrator is happy to translate everything into normal German.


Castle Christmas at Satzvey Castle in Mechernich, Eifel

The snow-covered Satzvey Castle in Mechernich at Castle Christmas, Eifel

5. Genovevaburg castle in Mayen

A trip to the town of Mayen in the first weekend of Advent is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. The ‘Advent Market’ in the Castle Courtyard not only gives you free access to the Genovevaburg castle on the edge of the old town, it also gets you into the adjacent Eifel Museum and the slate quarry. The romantic atmosphere of the castle is underlined by the decorated arts and crafts stalls offering not only the normal trinkets and gifts, but also more unusual decorations.

As soon as darkness breaks over the town of Mayen, the castle’s most famous feature, the 34-metre Goloturm tower, is transformed into a gigantic Advent candle to spread the Christmas spirit all over the town!


Genovevaburg castle in Mayen with Advent market, Eifel

The Genovevaburg castle with huge Advent candle for the Advent market in Mayen, Eifel

6. Burgkirche in Ingelheim

It was not only the castles and the palaces that were heavily fortified in the Middle Ages. Many church buildings were also given defences to protect their congregations, including the 15th-century Burgkirche in Ingelheim in Rhine-Hesse. The ‘Ingelheim Christmas Market at the Burgkirche’ is located both in the inner courtyard of the church and on the large market square outside the walls during the Advent weekends in December. The modern open-air stage features a changing daily programme of musicians, artists and actors until late into the evening. As you wander through the stands of local crafts and foodie treats, you may find yourselves involved in one of the spontaneous events around the Malakoffturm tower.

The lamp-lit walk is also a must. You are guided through the castle walls by the light of a lantern and given an in-depth insight into the background and history of the Burgkirche in Ingelheim.

Christmas Market at the Burgkirche Ingelheim, Rhine-Hesse

Visitors at the Ingelheim Christmas Market at the Burgkirche, Rhine-Hesse

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