Although the weather doesn’t really suggest it, the holiday season is indeed upon us and while some are anxiously waiting to open another window in their advent calendar, others regard all the festivities merely as an opportunity to steal a ketchup container from Christmas hot dogs stands on Alexanderplatz, which is an exceptionally Berlin-like crime I have actually witnessed.
And that serves as a sufficient example to say that the idea of a perfect Christmas will definitely differ from person to person. Many of you will travel to see family, others will celebrate with friends, and there’s more than a few that are going to be happy to finally not be bothered with any company at all. So for those of you who’re staying in Berlin this month and consider leaving the house at some point, we’ve come up with a few suggestions as varied as it gets, and some of them not even Christmas related.
UPDATED for 2018!
First of all, if you’ve been busy the whole month, reassuring yourself you’d still be able to find all you need in the very last minute – you might have been right! There is one famous Christmas Market that won’t have reached its apotheosis until the 31st December, and that is: Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt.
Gendarmenmarkt, photo: Michael Setzpfandt
Assuming you’re all ready now to immerse yourself into the holiday magic, let’s take a look at your possible festive destinations. If you feel like you’re totally Santa-resistant, hate all the same fuss all over again, but still wouldn’t really mind acknowledging the time of the year somehow, I’d definitely recommend the Weihnachtsfilmfestival. It’s happening in Kino Moviemento on Kottbusser Damm and offers movies exactly at the time when all the good girls and boys sit by the table or at least Skype with their moms, meaning from the 22nd till the 24th. You can look up the exact schedule and ticket prices here.
Of course, those of you getting a Christmas family visit may want to show a different side of your new hometown than the one you experience hanging around Kotti after midnight, and that’s why you are likely to be interested in what the decent Berlin has to offer. Our first suggestion still has a little bit to do with the dark side – Berlin’s Botanical Garden has a special Christmas version of itself – with lots of lights glowing through the dark and colorful themed illuminations. It’s only closed on the 24th, but open on the 25th and 26th. You can find the opening hours and buy tickets here.
All the other daytime activities, which may get a little bit cheesy, are: the Christmas Concerts in the Charlottenburg Palace, the Christmas Concert in the Berlin Cathedral, the common lightning of candles for the Chanukka, and the circus at Tempodrom (available even on the 24th!). There are also multiple concerts, both on the 25th and 26th, in the Berliner Philharmonie.
Berlin also offers some options for those who are absolutely resolved to ignore the Christmas Spirit. I found a variety of really interesting museums that you can go to even on the 24th. The topics include: the modern history of Kreuzberg, the DDR and the last years of the Russian troops in Germany, all about the classic car Trabant, and even the photography of Helmut Newton. The famous museums on the Museum Island (like the Pergamon, Bode, and Neues Museum) are closed on the 24th, but on the 25th and 26th you can visit them like on a regular Sunday. That’s not all! You can research further possibilities at the official Berlin website.
But I know you won’t limit yourself to my suggestions! Being a true Berliner is a full time job that requires some commitment even at Christmas, so stay true to your spirit and dare to do whatever it is that you feel like, be it a joyride on imaginary sleigh through the hills of Mauerpark, arranging an impromptu nativity play standing in a queue to the club, or, everyone’s favorite, trying to drink enough to figure out if the Bear on the Pilsener bottle will speak with a human voice.