guest post by Oh Destinations
As the winter months draw nearer we all know it can only mean one thing… Christmas celebrations, New Years Eve parties, manic Christmas shopping and of course snow are coming! If you’re lucky enough to be in Berlin at this festive time of year then you’ll get the chance to experience the winter magic that sets over the city. Here are a few things which you mustn’t miss out on:
Shops, Lights, Snow
Berlin certainly doesn’t suffer from the winter blues, in fact quiet the opposite! Whereas most groan and grumble at the long winter nights Berlin sees it as an opportunity to cover their streets with beautiful lights. For the keen shoppers out there, the infamous shopping street of Kurfürstendamm is beautifully decorated with Christmas decorations and fabulous fairy lights.
Of course snow comes and goes from year to year, but generally if you’re looking for a white winter wonderland Berlin will not disappoint.
German Christmas markets are one of the highlights at this festive time of year. Traditionally the winter markets would only last a few days, and would be highly anticipated event in towns, cities and villages all over Germany during the bitterly cold winter months. As the centuries went by they started to mark the beginning of the Christmas period and have become a key part in the German Christmas celebrations.
Berlin is no exception to this magical tradition. In fact you’ll be able to find over 50 Christmas markets in Berlin alone leading up to the 25th of December. The most popular include; Charlottenburg Castle market, Gendarmenmarkt and the Spandau Christmas Market. These merry markets are full festive cheer, and are a nice way to experience a non-commercial, more traditional side to Christmas. Your children will love the traditional toys, skilfully put together by the loving hands of carpenters and blacksmiths (not something you could find in Toys ‘R’ Us!). There are also plenty of other arts and crafts on display; you’ll be able to pick up handmade Christmas decorations, natural sweet smelling soaps and candles, as well as other German delights.
And those for an appetite for German snacks, no matter which market you choose to visit, you’ll always be spoilt for choice by vendors selling hot tasty food, such as sizzling sausages, lebkuchen (gingerbread!), hot chestnuts and dampfnudel (hot dumplings served with vanilla custard, jam or boiled fruit). You should also try the German version of mulled wine – Glühwein, served hot and spicy; it’s always a lovely and warming Christmas drink.
New Years Eve in Berlin
Each year thousands flock to Berlin especially to celebrate the start of a new year and say goodbye to the old one. Berlin is actually host to the biggest New Year’s party in Europe! For most, the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) in the heart of Berlin is the place to be - every year sees free concerts with an impressive line up of acts, as well as a spectacular fireworks display when the clock strikes 12.
If you’re in Berlin for New Years Eve you may notice a rather strange trend happening around the city. It is custom for Germans to melt lead and pour it into cold water to create a unique sculpture. From this each individual will study the shape and derive a possible meaning or symbol into what is in store or what could happen in the year ahead. This bizarre tradition is called bleigiessen and is practised by many every New Years Eve.
Winter Accommodation in Berlin
In order to best enjoy your holiday in Berlin you should ideally have a warm and cozy holiday apartment to go back to! Renting an apartment is a great choice, as it’s more convenient and private than a hotel. It’s a great option for families and young couples who want to save money on general holiday expenses such as eating out. There is an extensive choice of Berlin apartments for rent, which means you’re almost guaranteed to find an apartment to suit both your desired location and your budget.
Photo Credits: Christmas market, soldier, weihnachtmarkt, wood carver, fireworks