Yep, it's that time of year again, and the kids are already way too over-excited. Keep them amused for 22 more days with this month's Lowdown, written by Heather Sinclair. And remember, it's never too early to start the "If you're not good, Santa won't bring you any presents" threats... !
One of the best parts of being in Berlin around the holidays are the wonderful Christmas Markets, or “Weihnachtsmärkte.”
There are so many to choose from, but here are a few top picks (these have no entry fee):
In front of the Red Town Hall (Rotes Rathaus)
Between Spandauer Strasse and Rathausstrasse, 10178 Berlin
Alexanderplatz has actually three different festival locations, and this one is one of the oldest in Berlin, and definitely my favorite. My son loves the rides. It’s not as wild and raucous as the one behind the Alex mall, and it’s not quite as bustling as the one behind Galeria. It has a carousel, swing ride, small train, and an enormous Ferris wheel, which is an eye-watering 10€, but offers a superb view over the city from the top. There is also an ice-skating rink (free to skate but 4€ to rent skates) and vendors selling chestnuts and Glühwein (mulled red wine) and a mix of hand-made and typical winter gift shops (lights, candles, scarves and hats, etc.) The stalls are decorated in the style of early 1900’s which give this market a very special feel. Santa Claus visits three times a day: children can go on a photo with him at 16.30, 18.30 and 20.30.
Open 25 Nov-Jan 6th, M-F 12-22:00, Sa-Sun 11-22:00 (closed Dec 24. On Dec 25th & 26th open from 11-21:00)
Sophienstrasse, Berlin 10115
I wouldn’t travel across town for this one because it is so small, but you are in the area, right near Hackesher Markt, this is my favorite for shopping. It has hand-made and environmentally-friendly/ bio/fair-trade gift stands and the street is beautifully decorated. It is one of Berlin’s oldest streets. If you are lucky you will also see the “Green Santa” or the “White Gentleman” or “Golden Angel” walking around on stilts. It has food (some organic or vegan) and drinks on offer like crepes, bratwurst, raclette, Irish pies, and Glühwein. On the four Advents weekends in December: Saturdays 12-22:00, Sundays 11-19:00.
Schloss Charlottenburg Weihnachtsmarkt
Spandauer Damm 20-24
This Christmas market is said to be the most romantic. The castle will be lit up and the grounds transformed into a winter village with wooden huts, white pagodas, and a big wooden pavilion with Christmas pyramids. There are over 250 vendors selling environmentally friendly arts & crafts and a couple of cool special events: On December 6th Nikolaustag there will be a visit from Nikolaus and the white angels, with a Christmas Orchestra.
On December 14th it is Christmas-Biker Day-this looks amazing! Santa Claus leads a parade 500 decorated motorcycles and costumed riders in front of the castle. The bikers raise money throughout the year for local community organizations, raise awareness of homelessness, and also distribute stuffed animals to the children.
There is an open air restaurant with Austrian specialities and of course the usual hot chocolate and Glühwein. The market location is equipped for handicapped and strollers. Barrier free.
M-Th 14-22:00, Fr-Su 12:00-22:00. Closed on December 24th. On December 25th & 26th from 12-20:00. They recommend visiting early afternoon during the week or around noon on the weekend for less-busy times.
Holzmarktstraße 19, 10243 Berlin
For an authentic and grungy Berlin atmosphere, this is a small creative village located right on the Spree in the sparse industrial area between Jannowitzbrücke and Ostkreuz. (Don’t take the grandparents, but rather the cool auntie or uncle from out of town.) They have an indoor children’s playground, children’s theater and a carousel, gift stands and performances. Sundays are the children’s programs. Food on offer includes: burgers, pizza, crepes, vegan food, Glühwein and local brewed beer.
Fridays to Sundays
From 29. November to 22. Dezember 2019
Fridays: 16 - 22: 00, Saturdays and Sundays: 14-22:00
Here you can download a full schedule (PDF) and locations of all of the Christmas Markets throughout the city:
Read more about Christmas markets (with much more picks and pics!) here
Christmas at the Animal Shelter
Berliner Tierheim Stadtteil Falkenberg
Sunday Dec 8th 11-16:00
You can leave presents for the animals under their tree. They will have waffles, Glühwein, coffee and cakes, stockbrot and “vegan street food” available. In the outdoor space, there will be fire pits to cook the stockbrot and warm up. They have fairytale story-telling for the kids (in German) and a small book/flea market. Live music. Dogs are welcome: You can get your pet some yummy homemade dog treats and even have its portrait drawn by a comic artist.
S-Bahnhof Ahrensfelde. Then there is a shuttle bus to the Tierheim between 11:00 and 16:30.
Or from U-Bahnhof Rathaus Stieglitz: There is a shuttle bus from Albrechtstraße 2, 12165 Berlin in front of the Hotel Stieglitz International)at 11:00 and it goes back to Stieglitz at 15:00.
Weihnachtsmann on the roofs of Potsdamer Platz, Panoramacafé
Dec 15th 14:00
24th Floor of Kollhoff Towers, Potsdamer Platz 1 10785 Berlin
This sounds hilarious: Santa climbs from the roof down a rope ladder into the cafe “looking for his gift pack that fell from his sleigh.” The children and families in the cafe help him, and all receive a small gift from his sack.
Entry: 7,50€ Adults, 6€ Children 6-15. Children under 6 are free
Family Ticket 17€ (2 Adults and max 4 Children up to 15 Years old)
You just need to purchase regular entry tickets for the Panorama Punkt (there is no special event price): https://www.panoramapunkt.de/de/preise-und-ticketreservierung.html
(These tickets have no date on them and are valid for up to a year from purchase, so I imagine you would need to go early to secure a spot as well.)
Weihnachtsmann at KaDeWe
Starting Nov 30th and continuing through Dec 24th. Visit the Weihnachtsmann on the 4th floor and get a small “surprise” for your children,
M-F 12-14:00, 15-19:00, Saturday 12-14:00, 15:00-20:00, Sunday Dec 9th & 23rd 13-14:00 & 15-19:00, Monday Dec 24th 10-14:00.
You can send a letter to Santa Claus. Or even go to Himmelpfort and deliver your letter in person, although it is 2 hours north of Berlin in Havel. My son went twice with his kita. There is a cafe and a “post office” for all the letters to Santa. You can meet him there, but he has off on on Mondays. On the 4 Advent weekends, they will have stands with hand made articles and antiques to buy, there will be cookie baking, story-telling in a circus tent, theater in the church, gnome walking tours, a comic drawing class, a petting zoo, Alpaca tour and horse rides. The Sandmann from the old East German TV program will visit on the 14th and 15th of December.
Or you can just mail the letter: The Weihnachtmann will answer all that he has received up to ten days before Christmas. Apparently, he can speak 15 languages!
His address is:
An den Weihnachtsmann
Berlin Macht Dampf (Berlin Makes Steam!)
Niklaus Steam Train Ride
Dec 8th 9:00 Starts in Gesundbrunnen, round-trip 1.5 hours
For train enthusiasts with a bit of spending money, this old fashioned steam engine goes from Gesundbrunnen from the east ring then along the Berlin outer ring to Spandau then back. It is recommended for families with children. Niklaus will be on board.
29€ Adults, 14€ Children 6-14 Years, 84€ Family (2+4)
Check the site, there is also a train to the Potsdam Christmas Market.
Tauentzienstraße 9-12, 10789 Berlin
FREE Events for kids: “Winter Wonderland”: i.e.: Giant LED Polar Bear, Advents Calendar, and Christmas lights decoration. Thursdays and Saturdays during Advent, kids can bake cookies from 12-18:00. Photos with the Weihnachtsmann on on Advents Weekends from 13-19:00.
Mall of Berlin
There are more fun and FREE things to do at the Mall of Berlin at Christmas including a small carousel and a Christmas Market built inside on the ground floor. On Nov 25th they will open their Christmas program at 18:00 with light and music. On their shopping Sundays (Dec 8th, 22nd) they will have a Christmas Parade with the Scaramouche Stelzentheaters. Check out the review from last year with pictures here: http://www.berlinforallthefamily.com/visit-berlin/christmas-fun-for-free
On Dec 1st, from 11-18:00, there is a Hannukah Basar at the Jüdisches Gemeindehaus in Charlottenburg (near Kurfürstendamm). Free entry. There will be music, dance lessons, stands with Jewish specialities, artwork and crafts for sale.
Lighting of the Menorah
Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz
Sunday Dec 22 15:30
It has become a wonderful tradition to celebrate Hanukkah - the Jewish light festival - together with a lighting of Europe’s largest menorah at the Brandenburg Gate. (This year, the holiday will start Sunday Dec 22nd and end on Monday Dec 30th.)
Hannukah Fest at the Jewish Museum
On Sunday December 22nd starting at 15:00 there will be a free Hanukkah Fest at the Jewish Museum with creative family workshops, klezmer music and lighting of the candle at 16:00. Kosher mulled wine and Hannukah specialities will be served in the cafe.
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969
NEW YEAR’S EVE DEC 31
Zitadelle Spandau Children’s Fireworks Show
Am Juliusturm 64, 13599 Berlin
Open-Air Event starting at 15:00 for children with Hops & Hopsi clown magic show, face painting, duck fishing, games, hot cocoa, fire pits for marshmallows and stockbrot. Fireworks for the kids from 18-20:00. Guests are allowed to leave and come back, meaning you could take the kids home and leave them with a babysitter then return for the bigger fireworks show and music performances.
10,83€ Adults, 5,83€ Children
Fairy Tale Night in the Puppet Theater Treptow Park
Puschkinallee 16 a,
12435 Berlin - Treptow
If your kids understand German, this could be a nice way to bring in the new year. Six story-tellers tell beloved fairy tales as you all sit around a fire. From 6 Years old and up. 18:00-20:00 15€ Adults, 10€ Children
The Theater is in Treptower Park just off of Puschkinallee 5 minute walk from the S-Bahn
Coq au Vin Circus Theater
Schönhauser Allee 176
10119 Berlin Mitte
December 1st & 8th from 11-12
Der himmlische Zirkus (Holy Circus)
For 3-10 Years Old
Coq au Vin will have two “Holy Circus” performances at the Pfefferberg Theater: If your kids speak a bit of German, this circus theater is always fun (Or even if they are just learning, there is a lot of physical humor which they will get.) In this performance, two angels fall to earth and are competing with poetry, wit, acrobatics, and charm to gain favor from “up above.” In the end, they must learn to work together. See a preview here: https://youtu.be/5IhFWFDCGSk
Note: Der himmlische Zirkus will also be playing at the Blue Tap in Kreuzberg
19 Paul-Lincke-Ufer Berlin, Berlin, 10999
Dec 15th, 21st, and 22nd 15:00-16:00
And on Christmas Day, Wednesday Dec 25th 11:00-12:00 at Zirkus Schatzinsel (beheiztes Zirkuszelt, Kreuzberg), 4 May-Ayim-Ufer Berlin, 10997.
The Wiener Sängerknabben: The famous boys choir from Austria will be putting on a Christmas concert at the Berliner Dom Sunday Dec 15th. This is the oldest boys choir that is not affiliated with a church. Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKvKMgR8H7k
Tickets 25-49€ You can purchase these at the Berliner Dom Box office.
Kinder Ballett Kompagnie Berlin
Deutsch Oper Berlin
Bismarkstrasse 35, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenberg
This is a performance by children for children ages 4+ up with their parents.
Wed Dec 4th 11:00, Mon Dec 16th 18:00, Sat Dec 21st 11:00, Sat Dec 28th 11:00
25€ adults, 10€ children
Saarbrücker Str. 6, 10405 Berlin
Little art lab in Prenzlauer Berg will be offering a Parent and Child Messy Christmas Lab: Ages 18 mos.-5 years
Wednesday December 4th: 14:45-16:00 / 16:30-17:45
For Adult/child pair 24,99€ Includes coffee/tea/juice plus all art materials for garlands, lantern, decorations, and one 20cm x 20cm canvas. Please email for sibling discount code.
Art Nuts Christmas Workshop
Raumerstraße 7 (Prenzlauer Berg)
Sunday 8th of December, 10-14 and 15-19 pm
During this 4-hour workshop the children will draw, sew and print to create the unique and very special greeting cards and gift tags.
Attendance is limited to 12 kids, 5+. Limited number of spots available. Register by email or phone email@example.com or 0152 0196 9575
FREE Animation Workshop in the Exhibit “Zeit für Fragmente”
I’m a sucker for animation, so this looks a lot of fun. It doesn’t specify an age, but I’d say for 8+, since it’s so late in the day. German useful.
Dec 5th, 16:00-20:00
No fee, no sign up necessary
Pablo-Neruda Bibliothek Free Creative Saturday for Ages 10+
Dec 7th 11-14:00
Frankfurter Allee 14, 10247 Berlin
Exhibit: virtual concert house and book flea market, up-cycling workshop with artist Patricia Thoma making notebooks and clipboards, and Japanese calligraphy workshop with Ai Yokoyama. At 13:00 a concert will take place in the workroom and the visitors can try the instruments. Wear messy clothes. No fee. Sign up here: firstname.lastname@example.org
"The Museum of Things”
Museum der Dinge
Has a free “Workshop of the Thing”
1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month (Dec 7, Dec 21st)
In December they will be working with Pop-Ups, making foldable cards you can give as Christmas gifts.
No sign up necessary
Material Bar at the Berlinische Galerie
Saturday December 14th, 14-17:00
Alte Jakobstraße 124-128, 10969 Berlin
In the 207 m2 Room for Action and Cooperation
Build, cut, glue, sew, draw, bend, drill. Open to all. No fee, no sign up necessary.
Environmentally Friendly Christmas Decoration
Museum of Europan Cultures, Dahlem
Sunday Dec 15th 11-14:00
Recycling old fabric and glittery materials to make Christmas ornaments. If you have some old glittery fabric, bring it along.
18€ includes Parent + Child + Materials
Sign up here: https://www.jugend-im-museum.de/kursprogramm/fuer-kinder-und-jugendliche/6-7-jahre/?kathaupt=11&knr=2019-FAM36&kursname=UMWELTSCHONENDER+WEIHNACHTSSCHMUCK
These are from the Jugend im Museum website (https://www.jugend-im-museum.de). They have many things on offer throughout the city for various age groups.
Van Gogh Exhibition
Humboldtstrasse 5-6 Potsdam
Mi-Mo 10-19 Uhr
The exhibit started in October and runs through 2 February 2020
In the cold winter months, one of the very best things to do is visit the Biosphere where it is always warm and like taking a stroll through a rain forest. There are even a few animals: lizards, chickens and butterflies to see.
For a longer review with pictures: http://www.berlinforallthefamily.com/outside-berlin/biosphaerepotsdamwithkids
While you are there you can also enjoy their
Brunch Buffet in the Tropics-on certain dates:
Dec 1, 8, 15, 26
You would need to sign up here
Best places for Sledding:
Christmas in The Tierpark
Am Tierpark 125, 10319 Lichtenberg
Light Festival until January 5th, from 17:00-22:30
Thousands of lights throughout a portion of the park and on the castle, ice skating, festive huts serving tasty treats. The director describes it as “a dazzling experience during what is otherwise a rather bleak time of year.”
To avoid long lines, book your ticket in advance at www.weihnachten-im-tierpark.de.
The Christmas Lights at Botanischer Garten in Dahlem is pricey but a lovely tradition and great way to enjoy the holiday season. It is an outdoor installation of Christmas themed lights throughout the large garden. There is food available, fire pits to warm up, and a 300 meter ice skating rink in front of theTropical Greenhouse. You can bring your own skates or rent them for 3€. Open daily Mo-Sun until Jan 6th, 16:30-22:00, with the last entry at 20:30. (Closed on Dec 2nd and 3rd, 24th, 25th and 31st.)
Tickets are 17-19€ or with reduced rates from 14,50-16,50 and Family ticket is 53€ (or 47€ reduced) You can purchase the tickets online beforehand to avoid queues. Weekends cost more than weekdays.
There are two entries:
Botanisches Museum, Königin-Luise-Str. 6-8, 14195 Berlin
Botanischer Garten, Unter den Eichen 5-10, 12203 Berlin