As I already told you last year when I reviewed the Charles Dickens Museum in London, I am a huge fan of the author and his A Christmas Carol. Thus – and in order to provide at least a bit of Christmas contents on Flyctory.com in the weird 2021 year, I just had to visit the Charles Dickens Christmas Market (Charles Dickens Weihnachtsmarkt) in Heimbach in the Eifel region in Germany. Due my visit during late evening ours, the picture quality is a bit of limited.
Heimbach / Castle Hengebach – Location & Transport
The Christmas market is held in Castle Hengebach (Burg Hengebach), which is a some 4,000 inhabitant small town in the Eifel region. The town is located in Düren county, the county’s capital is some 25 km North, while Cologne is some 70 km in Northeasterly direction. You will typically go to Heimbach by car. There is also an RB 21 regional train connection, the terminus of that service also called Rurtalbahn (named after the Rur creek) in Heimbach station.
The Christmas market is only open on the four advent weekends before Christmas. On Fridays, it is opening from 17:00 to 22:00 hrs, while Saturdays and Sundays, it operates from noon to 22:00 hrs. Due to the Covid-19 regulations, the organizers split Saturday and Sunday into a “day session” (noon to 16:59 hrs) and “evening session” (from 17:00 hrs until closing). “Day session” adult tickets are 8.50 EUR, while “evening session” is 10 EUR. I bought a voucher for the admission on a discount platform, while was slightly less and even included a hot drink. There are rather large parking spaces North of the castle.
Charles Dickens Christmas Market – Atmosphere
The scenery around Burg Hengebach is really beautiful. The castle is overlooking the Rur valley and the town. The entrance to the Christmas market (where also the Covid-19 check is done) is at the bottom of the hill of the the castle. Close to the entrance, there are also some booths with food and handcraft items. The area also features a stage and the – fictive – grave of Jacob Marley.
The area around and inside the castle walls is of course more scenic. Overall, the Christmas market does not have too many vendors, but the combination with the castle is really nice. Finally, of course, the organizers really tried to get the Victorian / Charles Dickens flair to the Christmas market. You may also go up to the tower of the castle, as war as I understood – but I felt too lazy to climb up all the stairs. The castle area features a one-way walking system to avoid contacts during pandemic times.
Meet Charles Dickens in Heimbach
Apart from the nice atmosphere around the castle, it is the shows, which finally add a lot of spirit to the makret. The best one I attended was a “meeting” with Charles Dickens. In a room which is representing the Scrooge and Marley offices, an actor is doing several Charles Dickens readings a day. The main story is of course A Christmas Carol, but I happened to run into a presentation of The Old Curiosity Shop. I did not know the story before, but I felt that the some 25 minute presentation was really excellent and entertaining.
After this enjoyable presentation, I also listened to a folk music band which played at a stage nearby. Again, I feel that regarding the size of the place, the organizers really did well – bad luck that people did not pay back to them with a larger attendance. There are also some other artist performance, e.g. a fire eater or minor play.
Charles Dickens Christmas Market – Eat, Drink & Shop
What would a Christmas market be without all the delicious items? As the drive back to my home not that short and the roads around may be prone to deer and other animals on the road, I just had a hot chocolate, which I really enjoyed. The winter-themed cake was lovely as well – and I also had a waffle, which you don’t see on the pictures. The food was really good and absolutely reasonably priced.
The craft item booths have a nice variety of items – even though you have a lot more options in major markets, of course. One of the best seller are liqueurs and spirits, which are local produces and also come with festive flavors like vanilla crescents.
Charles Dickens Christmas Market – Services
Even though there were not too many people, the staff around Castle Hengebach was very motivated and friendly. Many had Victorian era-alike costumes, which added some nice atmosphere. There are toilets on both parts of the Christmas market. The ones at the lower section of the market, however, are just portable ones.
Charles Dickens Christmas Market – My View
The amount of entertainment you offer also needs to fit to the number of people who visit you. Regarding that, the Charles Dickens Christmas Market really did a great job during my visit. I guess that Saturday and Sunday daytime visits are much more popular. The scenery is lovely, the food was really good. Finally, I loved the Charles Dickens lections, which was an absolute highlight of my visit.
Historic Museums in Germany