As Christmas draws ever closer and the advent season begins, I have to think of Germany and the amazing Christmas markets it hosts in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With over 60 markets all over Berlin, we had the opportunity to visit many beautiful Christmas markets last year. And although we have festivals and tons of Christmas lights here in Florida, it will never be quite the same.
One of the Christmas markets in Berlin that we really enjoyed visiting takes place along Ku’Damm and in the square around the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The stores decorate their windows and facades with hundreds if not thousands of lights. And you can just stroll along, taking it all in.
Not too far down the street from KaDeWe, Berlin’s most famous shopping extravaganza, you start to spot the little Christmas stands, selling everything from mulled wine to roasted almonds to random little items that you might want to buy as gifts for others or even yourself.
Did I mention the lights going up and down the street are just incredible? This year, you can even see the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche again, since they began unveiling it shortly before the Berlin marathon in September. In the photo below, you can see the church, still covered in the block of white and black scaffolding which has hidden the magnificent church for the last few years. The renovation process was very extensive and this landmark of Berlin is an amazing historical piece that was nearly bombed away. So I’m sure this year will be a very magical one down there.
The square surrounding the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, called Breitscheidplatz, hosts many wonderful festivals throughout the year. And it has a fantastic Christmas market that is one of the larger ones in Berlin. It also lasts for many weeks so you should have plenty of time to get in there. And during the week, if you go along the back side of the market (near Bikini Berlin), there’s a lot less foot traffic.
Other notable Christmas markets include Gendarmermarkt, Schloss Charlottenberg and the Fernseherturm at Alex. But if you plan to visit Gendarmermarkt, do keep in mind that it is one of the more posh markets of Germany and there is actually a small entrance fee. And in addition to the usual Christmas market goodies, you can have a glass of champagne or enjoy food from some of Berlin’s most notable restaurants.
Specialties at the Christmas Markets
There are tons of delicious things to eat at Christmas markets in Germany, but something you cannot go without is Glühwein or Punsch. A hot mulled wine with lots of spices (and sometimes an extra shot of rum or schnapps) is standard fair and great to warm you up on the cold winter nights.
One of my favorite snacks at the markets are the Gebrannte Mandeln (candy-coated roasted almonds). At times, you can find these roasted almonds at other places and markets, but they are especially popular in the winter. They are absolutely delicious and I refuse to go home without a bag of them, which will be savored for the next few days.
Another big favorite in our home is chocolate covered fruit. While I’m sure you can fire up the fondue pot, make a chocolate fondue and dip all sorts of fruit in there to get a similar effect, there is something heavenly about these fruits on a stick that have been lathered in chocolate. Our favorites are usually the mixed fruit sticks which may have anything from peaches to bananas to grapes to oranges to strawberries on them. And we also love just the stick of strawberries dipped in milk chocolate. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Now it’s your turn. Have you ever been to a Christmas market in Germany? What was your favorite one and what do you love about the markets?