Berlin’s first set of Christmas markets have descended upon the city’s streets. The tradition of Christmas markets – outdoor tents selling mulled wine, gingerbread treats and handmade gifts by locals – dates back centuries. In this city of 12 boroughs, over 60 Christmas markets fill the city starting in November until well after New Year. Dubbed as the capital of Christmas markets, this is the city where you find a variety of treasures, from old meets new, traditional meets urban. Christmas markets can be spotted anywhere in Berlin, outside of shopping centers, in front of museums and churches, along large boulevards, public squares and even in the foyer of the famed Prussian palace, Schloss Charlottenburg. Here are my top five Christmas markets in Berlin.
You can spot this central market by its large, lit Ferris wheel, which you can see for miles. Outfitted with hundreds of small, wooden huts, the Alexanderplatz Christmas market is legendary. At the center, find Europe’s largest Christmas pyramid lit with 5,000 lights. Grab a glass of mulled wine and take a spin on the Ferris wheel for a stunning view of the city. The markets start near the famed TV Tower and stretch around the main square of the Park Inn Hotel. Find ice skating, live music and sweet treats.
Address: Alexanderplatz, 10178
Closest Subway: U8 Alexanderplatz
Dates: November 23 to December 27, 2015
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (December 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Despite their 100 market stalls and historic rides, this Christmas market is by far the showiest Christmas market, which is all about light presentation and official visits. Set at the front doorsteps of the city’s largest 17th century palace, a Ukrainian folk band plays modern versions of Christmas carols on Dec. 4 and 5, while St. Nick makes a visit on his namesake day on Dec. 6 and the Bavarian church plays on the palace stage with its brass band on Dec. 7 and daily choir performances. The wooden huts, decorated with natural materials, offer crafts, chestnuts, and crepes. For kids, there is a fairy tale tent with D.I.Y. crafts, a carousel and a small train railway.
Address: Schloss Charlottenburg, Spandauer Damm, 14059
Closest subway: U7 Richard-Wagner-Platz
Dates: November 23 to December 26, 2015
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 2-10 p.m., Friday to Sunday 12-10 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve)
Set at the bustling intersection of Potsdamer Platz, this Christmas market is marked by a 70-meter tall tobogganing hill, a skating rink and ski hut-style dessert huts service honey-covered nuts and baked goods, including Austrian food, dumplings, and pancakes. Crafts like hand-woven baskets, woodcarvings, pottery and textile makers who create art on the spot.
Address: Potsdamer Platz, 10785
Closest subway: U2 Potsdamer Platz
Dates: November 23 to December 27, 2015
Opening hours: Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Christmas Eve 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Set in the historical 17th century square featuring the world-renowned Konzerthaus alongside the gorgeous Neue Kirche and French Cathedral, this setting is perfect for shutterbugs and those with a sweet tooth. Try traditional German noodle dish, spätzle with a glass of champagne, or take a bite out of bratwurst followed by sumptuous Viennese apple strudel. Nearby, there will be a wine bar courtesy of Galeries Lafayette, as well as a waffle stand.
Address: Gendarmenmarkt, 10117
Closest subway: U6 Französische Strasse
Dates: November 23 to December 31, 2015
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 10 pm (dec. 24 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), admission 1€ for the stage program and charity projects, free entrance Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Set at the foot of this historic west-end 1890 church, over 170 stalls are set u at this epic Christmas market. From the carousels to the crafts and handmade wool winter clothing, try a candied apple or a Berlin currywurst with your eggnog served up warm in one of the little shacks. There is even a small nightclub inside one of the huts here where drag queens sing modernized Christmas carols; it’s the perfect place for a mulled blueberry wine with a bite of Nürnberg bratwurst. A Santa’s Hut gives away presents to children alongside a vintage carousel.
Address: Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin
Closest subway: U1, U2, U9, S5, S7, S75 Zoologischer Garten
Dates: November 23, 2015 to January 3, 2016
Opening hours: Mondays to Thursdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Christmas Eve 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Christmas Day and Boxing Day 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., New Year’s Eve 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., New Year’s Day 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Photo Credits: Alexanderplatz Christmas Market: Spiegel.de/fotostrecke
Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market: TravelPod Member Reisender
Christmas Market on Gendarmenmarkt: VisitBerlin/Wolfgang Scholvien
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Christmas Market: Photo Huber