Berlin is an international city unlike any other in Germany. Its history manifests in rich diversity today: There’s truly something for everyone. Christmas in Berlin is especially magical, with numerous festive markets, hearty food, local traditions, and cosy bars and restaurants to celebrate through the long winter nights.
Whether you like your Christmas Market traditional or trendy, or anything in between, Berlin has you covered. The Christmas Market at Charlottenburg Palace is like stepping inside a picture postcard. The grand 18th century palace is illuminated in festive colours and provides the backdrop to an idyllic market selling crafts and local specialities. Children and the young at heart can enjoy nostalgic funfair attractions, such as a ferris wheel, carousel, and mini railway.
For a more local, contemporary feel, Klunkerkranich, a unique rooftop space in the hip district of Neukölln, hosts a special Christmas Market during each weekend of Advent. Alongside a spectacular view and warming foods and drinks, the stalls sell crafts, jewellery, clothing, accessories and artworks by local designers and artists.
Festive Traditions, Food & Drink
Christmas markets provide the perfect setting to sample typical ‘Berliner’ food and drink, all in one place. Sausages are a mainstay, and you’ll find endless stalls selling the famous Bratwurst with Grünkohl—a leafy, kale-like cabbage stewed with pork fat. A less meaty but equally indulgent and satisfying savoury snack is Kartoffelpuffe—a deep fried potato pancake.
Wash it down with a mulled wine, known locally as Glühwein, which is available on every street corner in the run-up to Christmas. For the more adventurous there’s Eierpunsch, a sweet, warm egg-based alcoholic drink similar to eggnog.
Christmas parties in Berlin offer a great opportunity to experience the local cuisine. At a restaurant, order Eisbein (Pork Knuckle) or Königsberger Klopse, a Prussian dish of meatballs in white sauce.
Christmas in Berlin, as in the rest of Germany, is actually celebrated on Christmas Eve, or Heiligabend, when families come together and exchange gifts. There’s also an extra day of presents and excitement on Nikolaustag (St Nicholas’s Day), which takes place on December 6. The night before, children leave out a shiny shoe or boot, and wake the next morning to find them filled with sweets and toys. Many believe this is the origin of the contemporary tradition of hanging stockings for Santa.
Where To Celebrate
With restaurants and bars to suit every taste, it’s easy to find a venue to host Christmas parties in Berlin.
Combine sightseeing with a Christmas meal or drinks on a festive boat cruise that lets you soak up the romance of the city from Berlin’s main river, the Spree.
Atmospheric and authentic, Markthalle IX is a beautifully renovated market hall in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood. Operating as a community hub, farmers market and streetfood festival during the rest of the year, the venue is transformed throughout December, offering seasonal and regional cuisine to eat there or take away, every Friday and Saturday.
German food is delicious but often served in large portions, which can be a bit too much for some. A new restaurant called PeterPaul offers diners the best local dishes in more manageable sizes. The tapas-style approach also encourages sharing, which is, after all, what the best Christmas parties in Berlin are all about.