The Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Berlin are simply magical, and really the only reason to visit during the bitingly cold winter months. Starting in early November, the city shines in all its festive glory, transforming pockets into quaint, romantic, and idyllic city breaks.
At the risk of turning into human popsicles from the negative temperatures outside, people still brave the piercing climate to spread that special holiday cheer and to enjoy the beautiful, grand markets sprawled throughout the city.
There’s more than 60 markets throughout the city, and though just about all of them will get you in the spirit and provide a temporary reprieve from the miserable weather (the trick is loadssss of gluehwein!), I have a few favorites that I visited over and over again.
And if the markets don’t put a smile on your face and get you into the holiday mode, then let’s face it, you’ve got a heart of steel and Grinch running through your veins.
The sparkliest of them all, Gendarmenmarkt is my absolute favorite. It’s a magical feeling every time…like a fairy tale. You can expect to get a serious visual return on your €1 investment, as well as access to the culinary delights from covered outdoor versions of upmarket restaurants, plus luxurious gifts and locally-made handicrafts. As you consume barrels of gluehwein, you’ll be entertained by the musical extravaganza provided, including top-notch exposing artists, musical contributions, and theater/dance performances.
The stretch between the Staatsoper and Opernpalais on Unter den Linden dazzles during the holiday season, with an overflow of 200 stalls of crafts and treats and twinkly lights snaked around all the trees. The picturesque setting is nothing short of enchanting and bewitching. Stuff your face with roasted chestnuts, buy all your holiday gifts, get serenaded by musicians performing Christmas songs, enjoy the festive atmosphere, and drink all the gluehwein you can possibly guzzle down. The market is always thriving with people in the evenings, so it’s the perfect place to spend some quality time with friends and family.
Romantic grandeur best describes the Christmas market at the Charlottenburg Castle (Schloss). Even from a distance the market glows invitingly, as the twinkling Christmas trees frame the colorfully decked out royal palace. Crowded with merrymakers of every age meandering along the rows of wooden huts and rustic cabins, the palace’s usually uneventful front lawn transforms into a small alpine village of Christmas fantasy.
You’ll be spoiled for choice with entertainment options: permanent and temporary exhibitions inside the castle, a Ferris wheel, and live music from accordionists, carolling choirs and even the traditional Berlin barrel-organ. With over 150 stalls nestled inside heated tents and elegant glass pagodas, you’ll find every holiday culinary staple (gluehwein, of course + stollen are my favorite) and an overflowing haven of trinkets and handicrafts. This market is particularly child-friendly, with a separate children’s market, replete with its own Ferris wheel, swing carousel, and petting zoo.
A few other favorites: Alexanderplatz and Potsdamerplatz.
Frohe Feiertage, meine Freunde! // Happy holidays, my friends!