Essen Christmas Market: Reasons to Visit One of the Most Underrated Christmas Markets in Germany

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NOTE: This Essen Christmas Market post was written after my visit in 2018, but has been updated with the most recent info and dates I could find online. Do note that some details/locations may differ year to year though, so let me know in the comments if you notice anything inaccurate.

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of Christmas markets around the Ruhr region, during which I visited Germany’s longest Christmas market in Duisburg, saw the world’s largest Christmas tree in Dortmund and ate my way through seven different markets in Düsseldorf.

And yet, among this sea of superlatives and big promises, my favourite of them all was one you might have never heard of: Essen Christmas Market.

Save this Guide to Essen Christmas Market for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

See, Essen is a city halfway between Düsseldorf and Dortmund.

Longtime readers might remember my really random reason for visiting the city a few years back, and truthfully, I was going to skip it this time around due to time constraints.

We were trying to hit 3 cities in a day after all, an ambitious task on any day, but especially so in the wintertime when the sun sets at like, 4pm.

BUT, as our train came to a stop in Essen, and because we were standing anyway, we decided to hop off and check out the Christmas markets in Essen.

The photos looked impressive, and in the spirit of “why the heck not”, we ended up discovering our favourite Christmas market of the whole trip… and (in my opinion) one of the more underrated Christmas markets in Europe.

So, because I have too many photos to share, allow me a few minutes to gush about this lovely Christmas market that happily whizzes under most tourist radars.

Here’s why you should consider a stop at Essen Christmas Market, less than 30 minutes away from Düsseldorf or Dortmund by train, and doable as a day trip from either of these markets, or the world-famous markets in Cologne.

TIP: If you are still doing research for Christmas market trip, here are some recommendations. I always use Omio to compare/book transport options in Europe. It’s a free site that compares planes, trains and buses all at once and sorts them by price, convenience, etc. Also HotelsCombined offers a similar price check for hotels if you’re still needing a place to stay.

Grog at Essen Christmas Market
Pictured: Grog at Essen Christmas Market, AKA drunk uncle of Christmas drinks

First – Essen Christmas Market 2023: Practical Information

Before we get into all the reasons you should consider visiting Essen Christmas Market, here is some practical info for you to plan your own visit:

Essen Christmas Market Dates

November 17 – December 23, 2023

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Essen Christmas Market Opening Hours

In previous years, the hours for Essen Christmas were as follows. Do note that they have not yet announced times for this year:

  • Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 9pm
  • Friday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm
  • Memorial Day: 2pm – 9pm
  • CLOSED on Totensonntag
Essen Christmas Market

Essen Christmas Market Locations

According to the official Essen tourism page, market stalls can be found in the following locations this year:

  • Kettwiger Strasse | Theaterplatz
  • Kettwiger Strasse | Burgplatz | Kardinal-Hengsbach-Platz
  • Markt | Porschekanzel | Medieval Market
  • Kennedyplatz

Unique Reasons to Visit the Essen Christmas Market

Why am I so obsessed with this Christmas market? Well…

The main market in Kennedyplatz is stunning

Essen’s main Christmas market is located in Kennedyplatz and wow… just wow.

The center of the square is draped in this glittering canopy of Christmas lights, adding some serious drool-factor and pizazz to an already magical environment. I mean, just look at it:

Essen Christmas market stalls in Kennedyplatz
Glittering Kennedyplatz, site of the main Essen Christmas Market

There’s impressive lighting displays all around Essen

Okay, you know that one friend that goes ALL OUT for Christmas, blasting Xmas carols in mid-November and covering their entire being in lights?

In the Ruhr region, Essen is kind of that friend.

Trust me, this city goes hard when it comes to Christmas. For the entire walk from the train station to Kennedyplatz, you’re surrounded by gorgeous lighting displays, from glitzy chandeliers to galactic swirls and lit-up “planets”.

Lighting displays at Essen Christmas Market

I especially liked this lovely light display in front of the Grillo-Theater:

Essen Christmas Market lighting display

It’s a lot quieter (at least among tourists) than other Christmas markets in the area

It could have been the rainy weather, but the Christmas market in Essen was substantially quieter than what we witnessed in Düsseldorf or Dortmund, which meant we had no trouble finding a place to perch and drink our grog.

There were also a few different cozy nooks like this Feuerhaus to take advantage of:

Fireplace at Essen Christmas Market
FIRE!! So romantic

There’s a medieval-themed market too

There are a few Christmas markets around Germany that include a medieval-themed market in addition to the standard markets, and Essen is one of them!

The Medieval market in Munich is one of my favourite Munich Christmas markets, and while the one in Essen is much smaller in comparison, it’s still a unique opportunity to shop for special gifts like leather coin pouches, wooden treasure chests and um… these things?

(Yes, the vendors dress up too)

Medieval vendor at Essen Christmas Market
This guy just jumped out of a video game, I swear

The Essen Christmas Market has a lot of unique gifts and international products

Branded as an “International Christmas Market”, the Essen Christmas Market is home to over 250 stalls that represent goods and products from over 20 countries.

This means that in addition to the usual suspects of wooden ornaments, paper stars, etc., there are also things like amber jewelry from the Baltics or African handicrafts.

This gives it a definite edge over some of the more traditional markets in the Ruhr region.

Besides international flair, I also saw a lot of unique gifts that I haven’t seen elsewhere at the Essen Christmas Market, including these super cool record clocks:

Record clocks at Essen Christmas Market
Time to spend all your moneys

And these adorable customizable mugs:

Cute Christmas mugs at Essen Christmas Market
Ugh, just take all my money

Essen Christmas Market is easily accessible from the train station

No joke, the Christmas magic starts in Essen right as you leave the train station.

Not only is the main market in Kennedyplatz less than 10 minutes away from the train station on foot, there are stalls immediately as you exit the station and pretty lighting displays guiding you the entire way.

Essen Christmas Market in the rain
Gorgeous even in the rain

They have the most ridiculously delicious steak sandwich

I would literally visit Essen Christmas Market again for the SOLE purpose of getting this sandwich again. If you are in town, be sure to stop by the “Der Klopper” stall and get yourself a steak sandwich.

It’s this juicy slab of steak that they shovel into a triangle of pogacha bread (I think).

They then douse it in this amazing garlic sauce and top it with onions. It’s not a great date snack (I literally had garlic sauce in my hair) but wow oh wow is it delicious.

Der Klopper Stand at Essen Christmas Market
Go here. You’ll thank me later
Der Klopper Stand at Essen Christmas Market

Oh, they also have a big ferris wheel

Not uncommon at all among Christmas markets in Germany, but I figured I’d mention it… (even just to show off this cool photo I took there!)

Ferris wheel at Essen Christmas Market

And okay, if none of the above has sold you, here’s a final fact for you:

The Essen Christmas Market even has a talking moose

You’ll find him atop a Glühwein hut in Kennedyplatz. You’re welcome.

Talking moose at Essen Christmas Market
All hail the great Moose of Essen Christmas Market!
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Any questions about Essen Christmas Market?

Let me know in the comments! Have an amazing trip 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Essen Christmas Market: Reasons to Visit One of the Most Underrated Christmas Markets in Germany”

  1. If you love medieval Christmas markets, then you definitely need to visit Esslingen! The medieval market was our favorite and one I’d go back too.

  2. Just finished my trip (London, Manchester, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen, Dortmund, Mainz, Frankfurt) and your tip on “Der Klopper” was great since I’d otherwise have no clue what it is since there is no description and the sandwich isnt really prominently advertised. I arrived 8:30pm right after rain so most stands were closing up. It took some “wandering” to find and I thought I’d be too late but I got the last one. Probably the best sandwich I had on this trip! Maybe the best I’ve had at a Christmas market (including Nuremburg, Dresden, Stuttgart, Prague, Vienna, etc). Most other sandwiches are fairly plain. Not best in the world though, after all, it’s mainly just the garlic sauce that does it.


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