Some rub their eyes in disbelief: 44 days before Christmas Eve, the city of Duisburg is opening its big Christmas market in the city center on Thursday (10 November). For a Christmas market as spacious as the one in the city on the Rhine and Ruhr, this is earlier than ever before - one day before Saint Martin or the start of the carnival season (November 11th), 17 days before the first Advent (November 27th) and just one month and two weeks before Christmas Eve.
Of course, smaller markets such as the "City-X-Mas" on Frankfurt's Opernplatz, the Winterwelt on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or the Bayreuth Winterdorf even opened in October. A market has been running in the Steele district of Essen since November 3rd, and the Wandsbeker Winter Magic in Hamburg since November 4th.
After the failures of the Corona crisis, the Christmas markets are facing the energy crisis this year. Many have announced more efficient or less lighting, and sometimes shorter opening hours. Overall, there is a trend to no longer close the markets before Christmas Eve, but to keep them open between the years or even into January.
In the Ruhr area people like to be particularly early. Duisburg will be followed on November 11 by the Centro leisure and shopping center in Oberhausen with "Mountain Christmas Market", "Santa's Village" and "Wichtelmarkt", and on November 12 by the city of Essen in the city center with its 50th International Christmas Market. Other cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, such as Bochum, Dortmund and Düsseldorf, will kick off the stall magic on November 17th, while Bonn will begin on November 18th.
Traditionally, Christmas markets in German-speaking countries usually only open after Totensonntag, which falls on November 20th in 2022.
For example, the popular markets in Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Heidelberg, Lübeck, Bremen, Mannheim, Münster and the Munich Christkindlmarkt open on November 21st. The Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral will not officially open until the 21st.
Frivolous on the Reeperbahn
"Hamburg's coolest Christmas market" called Santa Pauli on the Reeperbahn will start with its frivolous huts on November 14th.
The churches, whose support among the population has been dwindling for years, are opposed to the extension of the Advent season and the Christmas market drive in the so-called mourning month of November. But that hardly affects many municipalities anymore.
"In fact, we've never started as early as this year," says Alexander Klomparend, Head of Communications at Duisburg Kontor GmbH. In view of the energy crisis after the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, people are happy that they have been using LED lights for some time. In addition, some measures have been taken.
"We do without the ice rink as an energy guzzler and we adjust the switching times of the lighting according to dusk - in other words: don't just switch on the lights at 2 p.m.," says Klomparend. "At 10 p.m. it is then switched off consistently."
Duisburg sees all this as a good compromise with a sense of proportion between doing without and celebrating. "Light is extremely important and the Christmas markets create a fundamental sense of community. We want to make the city shine against all odds. People should feel just as comfortable as they used to."
The showmen, who were shaken by Corona, are hoping for a good and finally more normal season in 2022. The German Showmen's Association had warned against canceling the markets: "In particular, the Christmas markets bring billions in sales in the most important weeks of the year - and thus tax revenue, to retail in the city centers that have been damaged by monoculture, lockdowns and online competition."
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