Christmas market days are not so far away, as travel columnist Anna Farren reminisces on a magical break to Cologne.

Although the summer has only drawn to a close and it appears frightfully early to even mention the word ‘Christmas’, it was this time last year that I booked flights to the Cologne Christmas Markets at a very reasonable price.

In this article, I’ve put together my top 5 memories of my 2016 visit and in doing so, have developed a longing to return!

1. The first sight of the Cathedral Market

Although there are many markets dotted all over Cologne for Christmas, the most stunning is the Cathedral Christmas Market. The spectacular Christmas tree sits directly in front of the landmark Cathedral and makes for the most magical Christmas feel of all!

2. Mulled Wine

What tastes better than mulled wine at Christmas? Served in specially designed Cologne Christmas mugs, nothing feels more festive than strolling around the hundred of stalls on a crispy cold winter’s day, with mulled wine in hand. With white mulled wine on offer too, one is spoiled for hot beverage choices, all with that festive feel!

3. Music

A main stage programme of over 100 Christmas performances of music and entertainment is a particularly happy memory. With bags in hand of Christmas gifts and goodies, entertainment was on offer to unwind after a busy day of shopping.

In addition to the main stage music, we also stumbled upon street performances that were second to none and filled the city with musical cheer!

4. Food

Gingerbread, spicy or cinnamon biscuits, Danish sandwiches and apple strudel were just some of the tasty offerings at the markets.

So many smells make your tummy rumble as you shop your way through the markets.

My most favourite food offering – the nougat! My mouth waters at the very thought of it!

5. Crafts

This winter wonderland has hundreds of wooden stalls in each of the 7 Christmas Markets in Cologne. From woodcarvings to daintily decorated glass balls, figurines and soaps, the markets are jam packed with decorations and gift ideas.

With so many decorations very reasonably priced, my only regret was not having taken a suitcase big enough to carry home the multiple items I had my eye on!

So although it is early to be directing our attention to Christmas, booking at this time of year makes this trip very affordable. Have a look at the video (click here) I made of my visit last December to see if this might be a weekend you might like to book soon. This year, the markets open on the 27th of November.