This Sunday is the first Advent as we get ever closer to THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR. Whoop! And here in Berlin that means that many of the Christmas Markets have, despite the fact that it is closer to the middle of November than the end, already fired up the chestnut-roaster, warmed their glühwein, laid out their handicrafted nick-nacks and opened their doors. And who cares if it is early? After all, Lidl laid out their Christmas chocolate selection when people were still swimming in the Wannsee, so the Christmas Marketiers appear restrained in comparison.
So here we go, with our very own Circus Christmas Market Guide (Cee Cee Em Gee for short) to seven spots around town where you can get into the festive spirit…
So classy there’s a cover charge… Gendarmenmarkt
Yeah, okay, you have to pay. But it is only €1 and they promise that the proceeds go to the performers. At the heart of this wonderfully atmospheric market there is a stage with a variety of shows going on throughout the day, including circus skillz, live music and other treats. Plus you can of course buy all your special Christmas markets, and the food and drink selection is particularly good. Worth a hundred cents of anyone’s money.
For all you Northern souls… Lucia Weinachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei
Lucia is the Nordic goddess of light, and the Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei is a festive celebration of all things Scandinavian. You will find it in the grounds of an old brewery that has been turned into a cultural centre, just up the hill from Rosenthaler Platz, and as well as all kinds of Nordic handicrafts and culinary delights, the market also features a daily cultural programme from 8pm as well as kid’s shows on the weekends.
Something for the weekend… Sophienstraße
Just down the street from Rosenthaler Platz, the Sophienstraße is one of Berlin-Mitte’s most picturesque streets, and so it should be no surprise that this nice little market is a personal favourite of ours. This is, to give it it’s full name, “The Berlin Environmental and Christmas Market”, and so you can buy your ecologically conscious members of the family plenty of right-on Chrimbo presents and the Santa, bucking the Coca-Cola-inspired trend, is wearing green and not red. There are some great shops on the street as well that are well worth checking out.
Open every Saturday and Sunday for the next four weeks
Cross-town traffic… Spandau Altstadt
In the west of the city you will find the proud district of Spandau and its lovely historic Old Town, and for the next month you will also find Berlin’s largest Christmas Market. At the weekend there are over 400 different stalls in operation (with over half that during the week), specials for kids and families, a historic crafts market and the intriguing-sounding “Christmas Rock Concert” (Slade, anyone?) every Friday evening. Well worth the cross-town journey.
Painting the town red… Rotes Rathaus
There is a Christmas Market directly on the Alexanderplatz, but a better bet is on the other side of the train tracks and past the tv tower on the large open square in front of the Red Town Hall. There you will find a lovely big wheel with great views across the city, and ice rink around the Neptune Fountain, and the usual assortment of food, drink and craft stalls… including the chance to sip on a stone mug of hot mead in the local tavern, and party like its 1299…
Open daily from 21st November to the 26th December
Don’t look back in anger… Nostalgia Market at the Opernpalais
Double-dose of the nostalgia this year as not only is the market – as usual – attempting the hark back to some byegone age of ye olde xmas markets, but also to twenty years ago and the first Opernpalais market that took place not long after the fall of the wall and the reunification of Germany. This is the place to come for your small wooden handicrafts, roasted chestnuts and almonds, aromatic mulled wine and all manner of sweet treats.
Perfect for lazy festive Sundays… Kollwitzplatz
Kollwitzplatz is a short walk from The Circus in the neighbouring district of Prenzlauer Berg, and is already a justifiably famous market spot thanks to its organic markets on Thursdays and Sundays. On the four Advent Sundays in the run-up to Christmas it gets into the festive spirit as well, bringing Christmassy treats with an ecological twist. The neighbourhood around the square is also worth exploring, with plenty of nice cafes to warm cold toes…