Christmas markets can now be found almost anywhere in the world, from Swiss mountaintops to the tropical Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. But the tradition started in Germany.
Though there is some disagreement on where the first Christmas market took place, it is generally accepted that the first real Christmas market was held in Germany in the 13th or 14th century. Traditionally a Christmas market is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. The earliest version of these markets sold mostly meat but steadily expanded their products to everyday purchases and eventually seasonal treats, decorations and crafts.
These markets are known under several different names, Weihnachtsmarkt, Advent market or a variation of Christkindlmarkt. And all have their own draws, some are nostalgic others modern, some are indoors others outdoors, some are especially for children others have historical themes.
Berlin’s largest Christmas market is in Spandau’s old town, which will this year be held at the Zitadelle Spandau due to the coronavirus. Inside it will be possible to comply with hygiene and distance regulations. The market will have numerous stalls throughout the week, with more on the weekends. On offer will be a wealth of specialities and delicacies, arts and crafts and Christmas decorations.
At FEZ, the Freizeit- und Erholungszentrum, in Wuhlheide you will find the Adventiamo Children’s Christmas Market on the four weekends leading up to Christmas. Parents can come to (if they must). During Christmas workshops, children can make gifts such as gingerbread houses, gnome figures, candles or sew little teddy bears themselves and much more. Each weekend has its own theme, Santa will visit the centre to listen to the children’s wishes and various plays will be performed on the Astrid Lindgren stage.
Set along Spandauer Straβe, between Rotes Rathaus and St. Marienkirche, the Berliner Weihnachtszeit has something for everyone. The market around St Mary’s Church takes you back through the ages with a medieval bakery and in the tavern the landlord serves hot mead in clay jugs. Along the Old Berlin market lane, traders and artisans sell their wares against a backdrop of facades of original illustrations of Berlin houses from around 1900. Alongside this nostalgic backdrop there is the 50 meter high panoramic Ferris wheel, around the Neptune fountain you’ll find Berlin’s most beautiful ice rink and at the foot of the television tower there are carousels up to 100 years old.
Elsewhere in the city you’ll find a Christmas market for man’s best friend at the Berliner Hundeweihnachtgsmarkt Sirius. In the Botanical Gardens you will be transported to a Winter Wonderland, while the Advent Lichter Genuss combines a magically illuminated park with an atmospheric Advent market.
With the aim of inhibiting the spread of the coronavirus, many large events such as Christmas markets cannot take place or can only take place to a limited extent. Even short-term changes and cancellations are possible. Before visiting a Christmas market, please contact the respective organizer directly or visit the website of the venue.