Come wintertime, holiday markets in Berlin become as common as the city's alternative art spots. Squares and street all over town light up in a twinkling flurry of lights and brightly-decorated stands as Christmas markets small and large vie for your attention span. Break out the furry boots and coat, as Berlin has a tendency to get properly cold, and prepare for explore a city full of seasonal surprises.
Market Full of Light
With over 60 holiday markets to choose from, holiday cheer in Berlin is never far from sight. If, however, you only have time to go to one this year, then make it the super-festive and really rather lovely Lucia Christmas Market; a vast, romantic collection of stalls in the Kulturbrauerei courtyards within the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin. The two courtyards of Kulturbrauerei adorned with chimneys, domes and red and yellow bricks. It’s all very atmospheric and twinkly, as Lucia is the Nordic goddess of light, and by god the Germans like to celebrate the Scandinavian roots.
The market has a whole cultural program going on – oh, it’s not just for shopping – so you can take your kids and be happy in the knowledge that they can go bouncing around on a bungee-trampoline or zooming around on the merry-go-round. In the name of festivity, there are also stilt-walkers and a daily visit from Santa at 5pm. The market runs from the late-November until the 22nd of December, which means you have a whole month to take soak up the festive spirit. Midweek it’s open from 5pm until 10pm, and at weekends it runs from 1pm until 10pm – and it is of course completely free to get in!
Another beautiful market for Berlin’s festive season is the Christmas Fair outside the Opernpalais, which is a very traditional fair full of pastry chefs, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and spiced punch. This is the place to take advantage of the all things traditional in Berlin – you’ll find beeswax candles and lambskin slippers, not to mention craftsmen making their wares right in front of you, and all the traditional festive foods you can eat. It’s a lovely place to visit in festive Berlin, and again, free to enter.
The Opernpalais is located on Unter den Linden, which will be a beautifully decorated spectacle in itself over Christmas. The Christmas Fair is on its seventeenth year now, and runs from the 23nd of November until the 26th of December – it closes down on Christmas Eve itself, but it can give you a nice Boxing Day out with the family! – and is open Sun-Thurs 12pm-9.30pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10.30pm.
Never one to shrink from their multicultural duties these days, there is a festive fair of a different kind: the Hanukkah Market.
The Hanukkah Market is set in the Glass Courtyard of the Jewish Museum on Lindenstrasse, and is in celebration of the Jewish eight-day festival of lights. Being set in a museum, it is part exhibition and part market – with an element of “meeting place”, too. It offers Jewish specialties – both in the form of gifts and food to be tried! – from all over the world. You’ll even find some kosher mulled wine to keep you warm. The Market also puts on events and concerts – on Sundays, you’re likely to be able to catch a concert of traditional Yiddish or Klezmer music.
The Hanukkah Market runs from the 28th of November until the 26th of December, closed only on the 24th of December, from noon until 6pm. Again, entrance is free, and this is likely to be both a cultural and interesting experience for most visitors.
If you want to experience Berlin's Christmas treats, don't hesitate - get a flight book your Berlin hotel room and join the merry atmosphere!