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Star-shaped biscuits, the smell of cinnamon and wafts of hot mulled wine whirling around in the air – Christmas in Germany is truly magical. And Berlin has some fantastic Christmas markets to get you in the festive mood.
With merry traditions such as cookie baking, glühwein (mulled wine) drinking and candle lighting on Christmas trees, Germans know how to make the season bright. After all, Germany is the birthplace of the world-famous Christmas markets, the first of which reportedly opened in Dresden in the 13th century. Today, people gather across Germany and its surrounding countries at Advent time to stroll around stalls selling all sorts of comfort foods and drinks, as well as handcrafted goods to gift on Christmas Eve.
Though the capital’s Christmas markets may be a little overshadowed by those that take place in cities such as Nüremberg or Munich, Berlin is far from behind. From the oldest market in town to the most authentic and hipper, more modern options, here’s Culture Trip’s guide to help you navigate Berlin’s best Christmas markets and make the most of the festive season.
A newcomer to Berlin’s Christmas markets map, on 25 November 2019, the Christmas Avenue opened its LGBTIQ* Winterdays at Nollendorfplatz. While bathed in a specially designed light concept, visitors to the market can delight in some high-quality cheeses and wines. Don’t miss the award-winning glühwein here, which has been produced solely for the Christmas Avenue. A daily show starts at 7.30pm with a programme ranging from Drag Bingo, rock and classical concerts to the market’s Face of Christmas Avenue show. You’ll find various donation-based stalls too, at which everyone is welcome to support the market’s social initiatives.
The southwest region of Berlin might not be on everyone’s itinerary, but during the winter season, Dahlem’s neighbourhood Christmas market makes for a pretty good reason to venture farther away from the city for a cosy afternoon. Glassblowers, goldsmiths and silversmiths, potters, florists, hatters, silk painters, papermakers, puppet makers and more make this market one of the most atmospheric and authentic in Berlin. And all this takes place in Domäne Dahlem, a former historical manor that is now a year-round family favourite. The magical scenery and delicious food, such as organic winter salads and hot waffles, as well as punsch for both kids and adults, are best enjoyed after a visit to the manor and its adjacent organic farm.
Famous for its numerous street-food trucks and stalls, Markthalle Neun is a wonderful place for food in Berlin all year round. Every Friday and Saturday during Advent though, Kreuzberg’s market transforms into “the most foodie Christmas market in town”, as a market stallholder selling Berliner Winter, a hot drink made of spiced apple juice and vodka, tells Culture Trip. “You’re at the heart of Berlin’s independent and creative food life here,” he says. Indeed, the merry markthalle (market hall) offers everything you’d want when it comes to winter savoury and sweet treats: cheese fondue, gingerbread, hot chocolate with marshmallows, oven-warm pretzels and butter cinnamon crêpes. The list is long, and the atmosphere is truly merry.
Christmas markets can be a tricky place to visit as a vegan, but as one of Europe’s most vegan-friendly cities, it’s perhaps no surprise that Berlin hosts a Christmas market dedicated to plant-based food. Expect meat-free organic burgers, vegan German sausages, waffles and spiced biscuits. There’s also a range of vegan gifts on display – think cosmetics, handicrafts and even plastic-free jewellery. While in the area, perhaps after a cup of glühwein, walk north to stroll around the chic Charlottenburg area and its famous avenue, Kurfürstendamm, which is decorated with lights for the season.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Lily Cichanowicz.