It’s the time of year to warm yourself with some Glühwein and snack your way through these Winter Wonderlands, that the Germans master so well: the Christmas markets!
Berlin is a great city to spend the holiday: You can shuffle from Christmas market to Christmas market and sample the many delicacies and beverages and then pop into a museum or ten. There are so many Christmas markets going on in Berlin this Christmas, which means you have loads to choose from!
Many markets are purely for locational convenience but many have a special theme, like the Adventsökomarkt at Kollwitzplatz, or A Very British Christmas in Preußenallee. Some markets reflect the ambiance of the neighbourhood, like the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market, that uses the baroque splendour of Charlottenburg Palace to make lavish illuminations and the Weihnachtsmarkt an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche at Kurfüstendamm, that draws on the radiant Gedächtnis-Kirche, adds the glitter of nearby Waldorf Astoria and rubs shoulders with the shopping paradise of Kurfüstendamm.
Wintertime = Museumtime
We visited Berlin the last weekend before Christmas and were awarded with an almost tourist-free Berlin. That meant no queuing in the many museums we visited. While on the subject: In wintertime, any major city can be grey, cold and uninviting. If you’re in Berlin in wintertime and don’t feel like strolling rain-soaked streets, buy the Museumspass, which gives you a 3-day access to 50 museums. For the price of 24€ it’s bound to break even very fast! Buy it at Berlin Tourist Infos or at the Pergamon Museum.
Alright, back to topic: Besides elbow room in the museums, it also meant that the Christmas markets were mainly visited by Berliners themselves, making merry while purchasing the last presents or just meeting friends for a lovely time. We took in 5 Christmas markets in the days we spent here and so we can’t give a full report or a thorough assessment – our livers simply not up for the task.
However, we think these 3 Christmas markets capture the different ambiances of Berlin, because Berlin is not at all a homogeneous city. Not only because it was divided in two until 1989 but also because it has been touched by so many currents in history: cabarets, world war, cold war, punk etc. Berlin is therefore a contrasting, diverse and colourful city with many different ambiances. Our Christmas Market Top 3 list is an attempt to capture some of these different milieus as well.
Without further ado, let’s start from the east:
at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg. It is not only the name “Lucia”, that first appears exceptional, but the whole atmosphere of this fine little Christmas market. The Lucia Christmas Market at the Kulturbrauerei is dedicated to the Nordic-Scandinavian countries. The historic building complex of the Kulturbrauerei with its courtyards is wonderful setting for a old-world-feel Christmas world – in the middle of the big city. The ornate and ornamented buildings of red and yellow bricks exemplify the industrial architecture of the 19th century.
Amidst this architectural symphony, the 60 Christmas market stalls are particularly atmospheric. The Lucia Christmas market has an overall contemplative atmosphere and a warm cosy ambiance. Swedish fire torches, punch stalls and nostalgic carousels guarantee a good time. Quiet Nordic-Scandinavian music completes the visit.
in front of the red brick City Hall, at the feet of Fernsehturm, is impossible to miss due to its 50-metre high ferris wheel. You can stroll through the many small streets of the market that are reminiscent of the old Berlin from more than a century ago. The Neptunbrunnen is converted to an ice rink – the only round ice rink of this kind invites to more than 600 m² of ice skating. Those who bring their own skates, can use the rink for free or ice skates be hired for 5€ per pair. If the skating doesn’t get you sweating, the many heated mulled wine bars around the ice rink might do the trick afterwards!
A petting zoo and many carousels – some more than 100 years old – make this market fun for all ages. This market is also neighbouring the Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Alexanderplatz, close to Wintertraum am Alexa, located between Alexanderplatz and Jannowitzbrücke and not far from Die Feuerzangenbowle im Nikolaiviertel.
at the Gendarmenmarkt is one of Berlin‘s favourite markets. And ours as well. The historic Gendarmenmarkt offers a particularly impressive backdrop for this “Christmas Magic“ themed market, featuring traditional delicacies, fine dining and entertainment on the central stage from 14-21h. It’s also the only market with an admission fee, but 1€ for the stage program and charity projects is manageable. However, entrance is free Monday to Friday from 11-14h. This is the most well organised and perfectly coordinated Christmas Market I have ever seen. When the sky turns deep blue in the afternoon and the Concert House, the French and German Cathedral are lit up, the tents glow as white pyramids and the adorned Christmas tree gleams with thousands of warm lights it’s almost too perfect, too beautiful!
Take a deep breath, drink some Glühwein and snack your way through this Winter Wonderland. Or venture inside some of the temporary restaurants, be seated on the fur clad benches, rest on the pillows and eat from the red check patterned tablecloths while looking out on the market and the many people walking past, smiling to you.
Does it sound amazing? It is! And you can still discover some Christmas Magic – or celebrate New Year’s Eve here – until 01.00 January 1st!