Christmas in Berlin. You either love it or hate it. I typically fall into the former category. Thanks to relaxed attitudes towards drinking, you can order a Glühwein (mulled wine) to fortify yourself against the bracing outdoor cold and the commercialism. Just order it ‘mit Schuss’ (with a shot) to make sure you are amply fortified. And no German anything is complete without an array of sausages to choose from.
December is Berlin at its darkest, but all those lights help spread some cheer. It might all seem forced and commercial, but Germans know winter hasn’t even started yet. Party now, have another sausage. Enjoy it. Winter is coming and you’ve got to get ready for hibernation. Rest assured dressed in all those layers, no one will notice those extra pounds – the locals call it Winterspeck, literally winter bacon.
Berlin has plenty of Christmas markets to avoid (see Alexanderplatz). The nicer ones might charge a nominal admission fee (see Gendarmenmarkt, Schloss Charlottenburg), but Lucia, a Scandinavian themed market, at the Kulturbrauerei is still free. Tucked into the courtyards of a charmingly renovated, former brewery, the 19th century brickwork exterior and cobblestone paving surrounding this gemütlich market will soon make you forget the riot of tawdry thrills you witnessed at Alexanderplatz. Sure you can get Glühwein here like anywhere else, but I’d recommend trying the Swedish Glögg – which is the same thing just stronger. And if that doesn’t warm you up enough, look out for their ingenious (if musty) Mantelheizung system.