Come December, Berlin residents succumb to Yule fever in dozens of Christmas markets across the city, some spanning the entire Advent season, some just a few days. Here’s a handful for you:
1) Gendarmenmarkt: Every year, Berlin’s most elegant square hosts an appropriately upscale Christmas market. If you have a maiden aunt who views the world disapprovingly through a lorgnette, this is the place to take her. A token one euro entry fee is presumably intended to sort the truly Christmas-spirited from those just bumbling through the square (whereas the nearby Opernpalais market is free).
2) Potsdamer Platz: One of Berlin’s most visited squares hosts Winterwelt, half Christmas market, half theme park, with rides, ice-skating and sledding along with the usual stalls selling glühwein, food and gifts. It’s flashy, it’s glitzy – you know you want it.
3) Kulturbrauerei: In the atmospheric surroundings of an old brewery in Prenzlauer Berg, the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt draws on Scandinavian traditions (the Swedish figure of Lucia brings light at the darkest time of year). Festive Nordic melodies resound around the cobbles and brick facades, and Santa makes a daily visit at 5pm.
4) Spandau: Although now incorporated into metropolitan Berlin, Spandau retains the feel of an independent town. Much of the historic center has been restored, forming the perfect backdrop to the celebrations. With 200 stalls during the week swelling to 400 on weekends, anything you might require by way of decorations, gifts or nourishment can be found here.
5) Alt-Rixdorfer Weihnachtsmarkt: If the true spirit of Christmas is elusive, you might find it on historic Richardplatz in the district of Neukölln (this year, December 2nd – 4th). Numerous charitable organizations raise money through sales of handcrafts as well as food and drink, while donkeys, ponies and camels keep the atmosphere suitably manger-esque.