(Photo: Come on, is that not romantic? The Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt an der Kulturbrauerei, image by Jochen Loch)
Y’all ready for this? AWOOGA! The Best Time Of The Year ™ is upon us, and it is time for our annual guide to our favourite Chirstmas Markets in Berlin. There are loads of course, what with this being the German capital, and you can get an overview of all of them over on the official tourism portal for the city… but we are allowed to be a little more picky, so we have picked six of our favourites, based on atmosphere, stumbling distance from the Circus, and the quality of the handcrafted toys and the strength of the shots they pop in the glühwein. And yes, it is still November. But then again, the supermarkets were selling chocolate santas when we still had guests wearing flip-flops, so the markets seem somehow restrained in comparison.
So Posh you have to pay… Gendarmenmarkt
Daily until the 31st December, 11am-10pm
Nothing keeps the riff-raff out like a cover charge*, but then again it is only €1 and they promise that all the money goes to the performers to take to the central stage to keep you entertained. This market combines lots of different arts and crafts stalls with a truly international food and drink selection that, it must be said, is particularly good… and altogether it is definitely worth a hundred cents of anyone’s money. One thing to look out for is that they will end their 2012 market season with a party on New Year’s Eve featuring live music and fireworks, and all for the sum of €10.
*entry is actually free on weekdays between 11am and 2pm, and of course… once you’re in, you’re in.
Right by Wowi’s front door… Rotes Rathaus
Daily until the 31st December, 12noon-10pm
In front of the city hall and surrounding the Neptune fountain you will find the nicer of the three markets on and around the Alexanderplatz. There is a big wheel with great views across the city, and ice rink and the daily visit of Father Christmas himself, who passes by on the sleigh overhead. On the Alexanderplatz itself you will find more stalls (less tasteful, in our humble opinion… but then again, it is a Christmas Market) and thrill-seekers need to head around the back of the Alexa where you will find all manner of rides to help you regurgitate your glühwein and grilled bratwurst… Lecker!
Those were the days my friend… Nostalgiamarkt at the Opernpalais
Daily until the 26th December, Mon-Thu 12noon-9.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10.30pm, Sun 11am-9.30pm
If your idea of a German Christmas Market is all pain-stakingly crafted wooden toys and smoking men, sizzling sausages and warming glühwein, roasting chestnuts and horse-drawn carriage rides, then the Nostalgia Market at the Opera House on Under den Linden is the place for you. Of course, whether or not they are harking back to an actual, Ye Olde Market Of Yore or simply a 21st Century idea of what an old-fashioned Christmas Market should actually look like is up for debate, but boy is it ever atmospheric.
Northern Soul… The Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei
Daily until the 23rd December, Mon-Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm
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.
Go West… Spandau Altstadt
Daily until the 23rd December, Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm
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.
Something for the Weekend… Green Christmas Market on Koppenplatz
Until the 23rd December on the weekends, Sat 12.30pm-8.30pm and Sun 11am-7pm
Formerly on the Sophienstraße, this weekend Christmas Market takes place on the Koppenplatz and the Große Hamburger Straße, literally around the corner from Rosenthaler Platz and the Circus. With an environmental focus, 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.