Ruth Michaelson profiles the best Christmas Markets in Berlin for 2011…
The temperature has gone sub-zero and anything you plan on consuming had better taste of cinnamon or come mit Schuss. With Berlin playing host to over sixty Christmas markets annually, there’s no shortage of places for you to get your fix of Lebkuchen and gifts in the frosty open air…
Best Of The Big Hitters
The sparkliest of them all, lit with all the double-Dom grandeur you’d expect from a setting in between the Deutschen and Franzozichen Doms. Visitors get a serious visual return on their one-euro investment, as well as access to the culinary delights from covered outdoor versions of upmarket restaurants plus luxurious gifts and handicrafts. Be warned, though – the gifts cost a lot more than the entrance fee. The entertainment is also top-notch, showcasing everything from fire artists to classical and Gospel groups. There are even real donkeys. If that’s not Christmassy enough for you, you’d best start calling yourself Ebenezer.
Gendarmenmarkt Berlin, November 21 to December 31, 2011, Open Daily 11 am to 10 pm, Admission 1€ for the stage programme
The stretch between the Staatsoper and Opernpalais on Unter den Linden goes full-tilt jingle bells and twinkly lights with over 200 stands of crafts and treats. This means that you can stuff your face with roast chestnuts, buy all your gifts at the same time, then lose either your lunch, your gifts or both as you take a turn on the carousel.
Opernpalais, Unter den Linden 5, Mondays to Thursdays 12.00 p.m. – 9.30 p.m, Fridays to Saturdays 11.00 a.m. – 10.30 p.m, Sundays 11.00 a.m. – 9.30 p.m.
If it’s romance and grandeur you fancy, then head to the already picturesque setting of Charlottenburg’s castle (Schloss) for one of the thirty-five days that it decks the halls for each year. As well as permanent and temporary exhibitions inside the castle itself, entertainment is served in the form of a Ferris wheel and live music from accordionists, carolling choirs and even the traditional Berlin barrel-organ. The journey westwards won’t disappoint in terms of gifts, either- with over 150 stalls nestled inside heated tents and elegant glass pagodas. There is also a separate children’s market with its own Ferris wheel, swing carousel – even a petting zoo. Even better, the entire park surrounding the castle gets its own special illuminations, allowing for an idyllic stroll through the scenery to burn off all those festive treats.
Schloss Charlottenburg, Mondays to Thursdays 2pm til 10pm, Friday to Sundays from 12pm til 10pm. Closed 24 Dec. Open Dec 25&26 from 12pm-8pm.
Spandau Christmas Market
The journey to the end of the U7 line is worth it to experience the biggest Weinachtsmarkt in Berlin, held in Spandau Old Town. Continuous Christmas cheer is provided by 250 stalls during the week and 400 at weekends, and for guests who like their entertainment seriously live and kicking, there’s a weekly Friday Christmas rock concert plus a manger with real animals on Reformationsplatz. There’s even a medieval plague procession every Wednesday if you’re feeling educational, or to keep things cheery, a St. Nikolai Christmas garden and a traditional craft market.
Spandau Christmas Market, 25th November – 23rd December, daily from 11am to 6pm.
Weinachtsrodeo at Postfuhramt
Christmas shopping with a little extra yee-ha of luxury comes to the elegantly run-down Postfuhramt building in Mitte this year. The building, which previously hosted the CO gallery, will be transformed with booths from Berlin’s hottest designers, artists and boutiques. There’s a gift-wrap service and a relaxation area to ensure your shopping experience is as chilled as the outside temperatures, a mix of classical and electronic music to soundtrack your browsing and a selection of the obligatory sugary and alcoholic goodness to keep you fed, boozed-up and happy. A treat for anyone who doesn’t fancy wearing gloves as they shop.
4th, 11th, 18th December plus the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Advent Sundays: 12-18pm, Oranienburgerstrasse.
Lucia Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei
For those who find the traditional Weinachtsmarkts just a little too Teutonic, a visit to the Scandanavian-themed market in Prenzlauer Berg’s Kulturbrauerei should hit the spot. Named after the Nordic goddess of light, the market includes a Finnish sauna for anyone who wants a chance to strip off plus more child-friendly fun in the form of a kid-size Ferris wheel, all held in the scenic central courtyard.
Kulturbrauerei, Schönhausesr Allee 36, Prenzlauer Berg, Underground Eberswalder Str., Mon-Fri 3-10pm, Sat-Sun 1-1opm, through December 22, free
Ecological Christmas Market at Kollwitzplatz
Trust the Berliners to come up with a slightly healthier alternative to the traditional gut-busting Christmas market, and it’s no surprise that this is held in that most bio-loving quarter of leafy Kollwitzplatz. While no one will pretend that a Bratwurst is going to help you detox, all the offerings are made from organic ingredients, including fair trade toys and even sustainable forestry Christmas trees on the third Sunday in Advent.
Kollwitzplatz, Prenzlauer Berg. Sundays only from 27 November 2011 to 18 December 2011