before hubs and i left for germany, i tried to dig up as much information as i could about christmas markets in germany. most of the info i found online seemed to indicate that these christmas fairs took place about a month or so before christmas and then just as quickly shut-down, swept away, gone on christmas eve. we were scheduled to land noon on christmas eve, and i kept my fingers crossed that we would be able to catch at least a few hours of the christmas fair before i thought things would shut down. turns out that the fairs stay open on christmas day as well as the day after christmas. the fairs may have remained opened a few days after the 26th as well, but we were well on our way to normandy by then. . .gendarmenmarkt was the closest christmas market to our hotel. shortly after checking-in, we walked about 2 snowy blocks to the market, and what a treat it was! i haven’t had so much fun frolicking from booth to booth, trying local and nostalgic eats or shopping for handmade tchotchkes in a while. scroll the pictures below to see what i mean. . .
most of the christmas fairs scattered throughout the city are entirely free. gendarmenmarkt charges a 1 euro admission, but they’ve got 18th century-esque entertainment going on in the middle of the square which makes it rather unique. the next day when we went on a walking tour of city (yes, it was FREEEEEEEZING!), our tour guide told us that gendarmenmarkt is considered the nicest christmas fair in the entire city. while on our walking tour, we also came across many more christmas fairs in the city of berlin. just about every public square or walkway becomes a staging area for a christmas fair! i guess the best way to describe the christmas fair phenomenon to new yorkers is to imagine the union square during christmas time multiplied by 20.
the ubiquitous glühwein, a red wine warmed with spices like cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, sugar. there’s a bottle of rum that you can add to the wine like a condiment for an added hit of alcohol. everyone at the fair huddle up around the glühwein stations to drink a cup of this stuff. did i mention it was really cold?