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The best of Berlin’s Christmas markets

Christmas in Berlin is a beautiful time of year. The boulevards are lit with thousands of fairy lights, on every street corner you are greeted with the smell of roasting chestnuts and you have the perfect excuse to wear fur lined boots. All over the city Christmas markets appear like glowing visions of mystical villages beckoning through the early evening mist…. well, at least if the mystical village comes with the promise of grilled sausages, mulled wine and finding the perfect German gift for someone special, that is. Berlin has too many markets to list – some are only on weekends, some only in the afternoon, and some are all day every day throughout December. Below are some recommendations for different varieties of markets to suit everyone’s Christmas experience. German Christmas market Gendarmenmarkt This market, right in the centre of the historical district is well known as the ‘luxury’ christmas Market in Berlin. Charging a small entrance fee of 1 euro, you have better quality goods at better quality prices. Enclosed areas make it a little warmer than most markets when the mercury drops, and if the Glühwein is not to your taste, you can drink German ‘Champagne’ known as Sekt from the Lutter and Wegner stall instead! Charlottenburg Located in front of the famous Charlottenburg Palace, this market feels like a fairytale come true. It has a lovely ‘local’ feel to it, and conveniently has a separate area for kiddies with carousel rides etc. It’s not so easy to get to from across the city, but it’s definitely worth the trek and you can easily combine it with a visit to the Palace interior when you get too chilly to stay outside. Spandau For serious afficionados of German Christmas markets. With up to 400 shops this is the largest in Berlin and one of the largest markets in Europe with literally square kilometres of fairy lights and more sausages than you can ever imagine. Spandau was once it’s own city, predating Berlin and if you make the journey to the edge of Berlin to see the markets, you will want to ensure you also take time to visit the beautiful citadel, one of the best preserved Rennaissance era fortresses in northern Europe. KulturBrauerei A former brewery, this large rambling structure has now been converted into a cultural centre (hence the name, the Cultural Brewery). In December it hosts a small but beautiful Christmas market in its central courtyards. Named the ‘Luciamarkt’ after the legend of St. Lucia it has a distinctly ‘nordic’ theme. Here you can treat yourself to an Elk Gulasch or a Deer Hamburger (surprisingly tasty I found) and compare whether you prefer the Swedish, Finnish or German versions of Glühwein. Rixdorf Another of the outlying ditricts of Berlin (this time in the south) which used to be it’s own city, Rixdorf (now a section of the Neu Kölln district) is vey proud of it’s heriatge, and equally proud of its Christmas Market. This is the genuine thing, the way markets once were – local artisans demonstrating their skills and their wares (including a real smithy) and great food. It only takes place one weekend per year, and many locals and their kids will cross the breadth of the city to get there and enjoy the ambience. Penelope Hassmann is Owner of Berlin Private Tours.

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