Cloudy weather equals a cloudy mood? Not so in NRW! Let us give you a few ideas, some advice, and great stories to counter the winter blues and show you where you can find true moments of happiness in the fog, snow, and cold, or in perfect relaxation from home. Look forward to the cold season once again this year!
A goose safari on the Lower Rhine
Discover the wild NRW first-hand
Anyone watching is sure to experience a unique nature spectacle at the Lower Rhine every year as about 180,000 wild geese touch down between Duisburg and the Dutch border in the cold season, populating the meadows and bodies of water in droves. The chatter of the greater white-fronted geese that make their winter quarter in the comparatively moderate Lower Rhine region is audible from afar.
Winter hiking through fog and snow
Snowy landscapes ensure a special atmosphere
Winter hikes let you experience the landscape in a very special atmosphere, as it almost seems that Mother Nature herself wants to add to the contemplative mood in the Christmas season. It is mostly quiet, and hikers often find themselves alone on their paths, the only sounds the cracking of bare trees in gusts of wind and the snow crunching underfoot.
Some regions offer special winter hiking trails. Hikers can then choose whether they prefer freshly cleared routes or rather deep snow. Guided tours are available as well, including some evening tours by torchlight to the hidden Wiehl valley villages in the Bergisches Land, and others that cross the winter landscape in the company of alpacas or huskies.
Holidays in the Snow
Down the slopes on skis or a snowboard at full speed, through beautiful winter landscapes at one’s own pace, or just trying out something new, such as snow kiting: NRW is a proper winter sports state! Not only does it contain the largest winter sports area north of the Alps, it also has many smaller regions that are great for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and, of course, tobogganing. Hobby athletes and pros will love it equally.
Ice Skating under the Open Sky
Magical Ice Rinks
Ice skating is a fixed part of winter. Ice halls and open-air ice rinks, e.g. on Christmas markets, allow sports enthusiasts to turn their circles in NRW. One very special ice rink can be found between former coking furnaces, rusty pipes, and high stacks at the Unesco World Heritage Zollverein in Essen. This site turns properly romantic after nightfall, when the old colliery premises are lit in bright colours.
Cutting Christmas Trees in the Sauerland
Out into Nature
Festively decorated, brightly lit, and in a radiant green garment: Christmas trees are a staple in virtually every living room during the holidays. The joyous expectation of the festive time can even be increased by simply cutting one’s own tree! The Sauerland makes this possible. Following registration, anyone can cut their very own tree here. Many hotels offer the matching relaxation programme around it to make it worth spending the entire weekend.
www.weihnachtsbaumhof.de | www.weihnachtsbaumerlebnis.de
A speck of light on dark winter days
Like an oversized red candle, the “Das Geleucht” installation on the summit of the Rheinpreußen slagheap in Moers adds a speck of colour to the dark. Together with the slagheap underneath, this accessible industrial heritage sculpture stands about 120 metres tall, affording an around-the-clock pano-ramic view across the landscape all the way to Duisburg, Bottrop, and Kamp-Lintfort, as well as of the Rhine river and the steelworks still in operation; www.visit-nrw.com/up-and-down-in-theruhr-area. The work was created by Otto Piene. It is reminiscent of the miner’s lamp, an essential tool in mining.
Stories from Aachen
Get into a Christmas spirit with Marcel Schmitz
Get into a Christmas spirit with the story of Marcel Schmitz. The original “Oecher Jong”’s two great passions are ice cream and mulled wine. In winter, Marcel can be found at the Aachen Christmas market, where his “Oecher Glühwein-Treff” spreads the fragrance of his wonderful wine. Learn more about the traditional trendsetter here.
Light or dark, with almonds, honey, or spices – a great variety of the tasty gingerbread treats, eaten year-round in Aachen and enjoyed around the world during Advent, is available for your enjoyment. All of them are delicious. Only those produced in Aachen and some of the neighbouring villages since 1820 are considered original Aachen Printen.
The original Printe, by the way, rather looked like Dutch almond biscuits, until Napoleon’s continental blockade, leading to a shortage of cane sugar and American wildflower honey, forced the Printen bakers to improvise with new ingredients and gave birth to the cut Printe we know today.