What's on in Berlin for the Holidays

Christmas Market on Gendarmenmarkt © visitBerlin, Picture: Wolfgang Scholvien
Christmas Market on Gendarmenmarkt © visitBerlin, Picture: Wolfgang Scholvien

Berlin is offering a host of holiday attractions this winter, ranging from 80 christmas markets to shopping, concerts and culinary delights. 

Christmas Markets

Most holiday markets start around November 23 and end on December 24. 

Known for its nostalgic feel, the Christmas Magic at Gendarmenmarkt square remains one of the most authentic and popular markets. High-end handcrafts, traditional wooden ornaments and a range of local and regional arts and crafts are for sale.

Also notable is Lucia Christmas Market, held at the historic Kulturbrauerei former brewery complex in Prenzlauer Berg. The market is named after Lucia, the bringer of light, who is especially revered in Sweden. Sounds, crafts and treats are spreading the cheer from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

At the Market of the Continents at the Dahlem museum complex, more than fifty vendors offer handicrafts from around the world. Choices include hand-woven African fabrics, jewelry from India, and felt goods from Kazakhstan. Most goods are produced in the respective countries and purchases support local projects. 

Berlin's first vegan/vegetarian Holiday market, the Green Christmas Market takes place on Sundays during the Advent season. Vegan/vegetarian products from Germany will be presented, as well as live music and organic clothing.


No holiday visit would be complete without some retail therapy. Fun this season is KaDeWe, Continental Europe's largest department store, which will be turning all of its floors into a whimsical fair, including a hall of mirrors. 

At Holy.Shit.Shopping at Kraftwerk Berlin, young local designers present their latest fashion, jewelry and art -- good for a traveler looking for a special gift. 

Also worth checking out are the small shops, boutiques and galleries in the side streets of the trendy Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg districts. Extra tip: on December 6 and December 20, stores will be open between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.


Winter is fairytale time, especially in Berlin. The Staatsoper at Schillertheater puts on Puss in Boots by David Robert Coleman, opening December 6. Starting November 26, Staatsballett Berlin will take the stage at the Deutsche Oper with Grieg's Haensel & Gretel and Tschaikovsky’s legendary Nutcracker, choreographed by Vasily Medvedev and Yuri Burlaka. 

Already a holiday tradition, the circus Roncalli sets the festive mood with its twelfth season at the Tempodrom. The show enchants with acrobatics, dressage and clown skits. December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016.

Top Exhibitions

From November 20, 2015 through February 15, 2016, the Berlinische Galerie is mounting a major exhibition on Max Beckmann and Berlin, with works that the artist completed in Berlin or that have a direct connection to the German capital. In the 1920s, critics celebrated Beckmann as the modern artist who best personified the “new Berlin”. Beckmann became one of the groundbreaking forces of the “New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit)”. 

The Botticelli Renaissance, another major exhibition, opened September 25, 2015, and runs through January 24, 2016, at Berlin’s Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie). Over 100 masterpieces of European art, on loan from the world's great collections, have been assembled.

Culinary Delights

In the cold season, sweets are in high demand in Berlin: Chocolates, gingerbread or candied almonds are Christmas market staples and chocoholics have the choice of 200 types of chocolates and small delicacies offered at Fassbender & Rausch chocolatiers. 

Additionally, the city’s historic covered markets are experiencing a comeback. The 120 year-old Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg hosts Street Food Thursday, where food from around the world is put fresh and hot right into your hands. The Arminiusmarkthalle in up- and-coming Moabit offers a wide range of foods, from regional dishes to Italian specialties. With numerous cultural events, the hall is becoming a meeting place for local residents and guests no matter what the outside temperature is. 

The 14 Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany’s capital (which boasts a total of 19 stars) serve up haute cuisine. But if you’re in the mood for a meatless gourmet experience: Berlin is a vegetarian’s dream come true with the highest density of vegan and vegetarian restaurants of any city on the continent. Additionally, many hotels and restaurants will be offering traditional dishes, including roast duck, braised cabbage and other traditional German Holiday fare.

New Year's Eve

Berlin will also ring in the New Year with one of the world's largest New Year's Eve parties. Shows, music, dance, and culinary offerings will help pass the time until huge fireworks are illuminating the Berlin sky at midnight at Brandenburg Gate and along Straße des 17 Juni.