As winter’s chill sets in, the festive season is just warming up in Berlin. As the first snow falls and the city starts to resemble a snow globe, twinkling lights, Christmas markets, Winter Wonderlands and seasonal delights light up the city’s short days and freezing nights to bring festive cheer to tourists and locals alike. These are the top 10 things to do in the German capital over the festive season...
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1. Visit the Christmas markets
The festive season and Christmas Markets go hand in hand and in Berlin there's an abundance to choose from. Dotted around the city, 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, these markets bring together Christmas joy and German traditions. Carols will play cheerfully throughout and thousands of twinkling Christmas lights will illuminate them, filling visitors with festive joy.
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2. Go sledding at Winter World
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Berlin’s cosmopolitan shopping district, Potsdamer Platz, is transformed each year into a Winter World, this year from 29th October 2021 until 2nd January 2022. With Brandenburg Gate within view, visitors can brave 12-metre high tobogganing run for some alpine fun in the heart of Berlin. Ice skating and Bavarian curling is also on offer, along with punch, hot spiced wine and a sample of traditional German winter treats.
3. See the Christmas lights at Ku'Damm
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Kurfürstendamm - the infamous shopping street - and central boulevard in West Berlin, comes to life during the festive season. Known by the locals as Ku’damm, the tree-lined street is adorned with fairy lights in the barren trees branches from early November until early January. The large stretch of pavement in the middle of the road becomes a centrepiece with large snowmen, Christmas trees and a Santa and reindeer are assembled and lit up in all their festive glory.
4. Get your skates on
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It's not the festive season without donning a pair of ice skates and gliding around a rink to Christmas songs and a joyful crowd. Berlin's largest ice rink in Charlottenburg sadly has to remain closed for this season, but the one at Potsdammer Platz is the next best thing. Book your slot in advance and do your best to skate circles around the rest of your group, or bring that special someone along for a fun (and funny) date activity.
5. Feel festive with Gluhwein
As snow gently covers the city and temperatures drop to subzero, little else will warm you up like a hot mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). This much loved Christmas beverage can be found at the Christmas markets, and you can choose to add schnapps for an extra kick. While you will certainly find it at every market, during Advent in Berlin, you will also be able to pick up a glass from your favourite bars, street vendors and you can even make your own with a range of pre-made mixes filling the supermarket aisles.
6. Enchanting lights at the Sony Centre
Photo: Antonio Campoy
The Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz transforms after dark during winter. Throughout the year, visitors can admire the nightly play of lights on the ceiling, however during Christmas, 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 Advent.
7. Get your thrills at the Alexanderplatz Fairground
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For those looking for festive joy with some extra thrills, the Christmas market in Alexanderplatz is the place to go. Located under the iconic Berlin TV Tower, this Christmas market and fairground, pairs all the traditional festive joys of Christmas markets with the fun of a carnival. With the scent of hearty German food and Glühwein in the air, and Christmas carols blaring, visitors can get their thrills by braving the large roller coaster, bumper cars, or Ferris wheel in the fairground.
8. Warm up with 'fire tong' punch
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This festive punch is a tongue twister for its difficult German name and extremely high alcohol content. Called Feuerzangenbowle, the name literally translates into ‘fire tongue,’ and is also the name of a popular German film. The traditional drink is made by setting a rum-soaked sugar cube on fire and letting it drip into mulled wine. It’s enjoyed throughout Germany during the festive season and on New Year’s Eve.
9. Share a lebkuchen
Credit: Alice Dundon
The colourful, heart-shaped treats become hanging treats during the festive seasons. Christmas market stalls, local vendors and festive shops hang the loving treat in their windows lighting up their shop fronts. 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.
10. Enjoy a German Christmas sausage
Credit: Nelo Hotsuma
Sausages, or würst, play a big part in German culture and they can certainly find any occasion to enjoy their favourite meal in bread. During the festive season, Christmas markets come to life with the aroma of sizzling sausages, and walking with a würst in one hand and glühwein is as akin to German Christmas as carols, Santa Claus or a Christmas tree.
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