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As snow starts to fall in Berlin, the city starts to resemble a magical snow globe. Christmas markets, Winter Wonderlands and seasonal delights light up the city’s short days and freezing nights to bring festive cheer to everyone. Here’s our visual guide to Berlin’s festive season to get you in the mood for Christmas.
It just isn’t the festive season in Berlin without an abundance of traditional and alternative Christmas markets popping up in the city. Dotted around in various neighbourhoods, these markets have been a tradition in Germany since the middle ages. With a variety of stalls selling handcrafted gifts, traditional German food and festive drinks, the markets bring Christmas joy and German traditions harmoniously together for everyone to delight in. As carols play cheerfully throughout and thousands of twinkling Christmas lights light the rows of stalls visitors will fill with festive joy.
Sausages, or würst, play a big part in German culture and Germans can certainly find any occasion to enjoy their favourite meal. During the festive season, Christmas markets fill with the aroma of sizzling sausages and other meaty German delights. Walking with a würst in one hand and glühwein in the other is as akin to Germany’s festive season as carols, Santa Claus or a Christmas tree. Filling up with festive treats is not just delicious, it will also get you in the mood for your Christmas Day feast.
During the festive season, Berlin’s Botanic Garden is transformed into a fairytale Christmas garden with brightly coloured light sculptures, luminous displays, magical woodlands and wintery light shows. The two-kilometre (1.24 miles) trail features 30 attractions, with 1,500,000 twinkling bulbs, all powered by renewable energy. This gorgeous garden will put a smile on every visitor’s face and get them ready for a visit from Santa.
As winter rolls through Berlin, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor places to ice-skate. However, for the largest rink in Berlin, head over to Horst-Dohm Ice Stadium to enjoy 6.17 kilometres (3.83 miles) of space. There is indoor and outdoor space, with the 400-meter (1312 ft) outdoor rink offering skaters a choice between speeding around the rink in race lanes or enjoying a leisurely skate. The smaller inside area is for skaters who prefer to be shielded from the elements and who enjoy gliding around at their own pace.
Kurfürstendamm is the chic famous shopping street in West Berlin. During the festive season, this long street comes to life, lighting up the short days in the city. Known by locals as Ku’damm, the tree-lined straße is adorned with fairy lights and the large stretch of pavement in the middle of the road becomes a centerpiece with large snowmen, christmas trees and a Santa and reindeer light sculptures being assembled in all their festive glory.
Berlin’s cosmopolitan shopping district, Potsdamer Platz, is transformed each year into a Winter World, offering a Christmas market-style atmosphere and tons of winter activities. With Brandenburg Gate in view, visitors can brave Europe’s largest snow tubing run for some Alpine fun in the heart of Berlin. Ice skating and Bavarian curling are also on offer, along with punch, glühwein and a sample of warming wintery treats.
Little else will warm Berliners up like a mug of Glühwein when facing subzero temperatures. You can enjoy this potent mulled wine drink as it comes, or for an extra warming kick, with extra schnapps. Either way, the steaming cup and high alcohol content are sure to warm you up and put a festive smile on your face. During Advent in Berlin, you will be able to pick up a glass not just at a Christmas market, but from your favourite bars, street vendors and can even make your own with a range pre-made mixes filling supermarket aisles.
For those looking for some extra thrills with their festive joy, Wintertraum am Alexa is the place to go. Located under the iconic Berlin TV Tower, this Christmas market and fairground combines all the traditional joys of Christmas markets with the fun of a carnival. As kitschy Christmas carols blare in the background and bright lights flash from every corner, visitors will be soaked up in the fun as they brave the large roller coaster, bumper cars, or Ferris wheel in the fairground.
Christmas market stalls and shop fronts are adorned with these colourful, loving heart-shaped treats during Advent in Berlin. The traditional German baked treat is similar to gingerbread and is iced with statements of affection and love. It’s an adorably delicious Christmas treat, beloved in Germany.
As the sun sets on the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz, this shopping hotspot transforms into a Christmas-fueled light display. Throughout the year, visitors can admire the nightly play of lights on the ceiling, and during Advent season, from November until late December, an additional 100,000 lights are added to the display. The glittering gold and blue form an abstract Christmas tree to delight passersby during the festive season.
One of the city’s most beautiful Christmas markets can be found at the surrounding grounds of the Charlottenburg Palace. Invoking another-timely charm and grandeur, this market delights guests with an ice-rink, regular carolers, traditional stalls and a stunning backdrop. All of this comes to a perfect crescendo on Christmas Eve, when visitors are invited to enjoy a festive concert from the Berlin Residence Orchestra in the opulently decorated Great Orangery. An variety of Christmas carols will end the evening, filling guests with pure, festive joy.