For December the Group Leaders of First Steps in Berlin (an activity group within the Willkommen in Berlin) decided to take us to their favorite traditional German Christmas Market in Schloss Charlottenburg. The location in front of a beautiful palace is spectacular. As usual the ladies of the Willkommen in Berlin did not disappoint. Not only was a fun-filled and magical, but they also shared with us interesting bit of information about how the Christmas Markets started and told us a little bit about the specialties sold during the season, before letting us taste them!
A life-sized version of the traditional wooden Christmas decor with propellers on top. The propellers spin because of the hot hair from the candles below. This life-sized one is, of course, machine powered.
Traditional Christmas angels – how fabulous are their costumes?
Though the Schloss Charlottenburg Christmas market is quite traditional…
…There is a section of more modern tents with heating. We preferred exploring the more charming traditional stalls in the cold. It’s all part of the Christmas Market experience!
Flammlachs or Flamed Grilled Salmon
I was intrigued by this smoked salmon stall. Doesn’t it look so rustic and traditional? We wanted to try this with TD last Sunday, but the line was so long! That means it must be spectacular, don’t you think?
Hot Chestnuts or Heiße Marroni
I shared some piping hot chestnuts with the ladies. This italian specialty is so easy to peel when hot. They also slit the shell before roasting to make it easier. Great idea!
I didn’t realise that Chestnuts were hairy! They remind me of Rambutan. What do you think?
Fruit Cake or Früchtebrot
Personally I’ve never like the fruit cake I tasted in the Philippines but when I tried this, it wasn’t half bad. This is quite dense with nuts. Maybe there is hope for fruit cake (of the German kind at least) in my book after all. Have you tried the fruit bread in Germany? Do your like it or not?
Zuckerwatte or Cotton Candy
They made it fresh for us when we ordered it. Watching those tender cobwebs form brings back memories school fairs when I was young. Does cotton candy hold memories for you too?
Mulled wine or Glühwein
This is what TD has been looking forward too since he heard we were moving to Germany. I’ve been intrigued and since the cold season started, I’ve tried Glühwein from different places (restaurants serve them and we made some at home too). I am now a fan. Not just for the taste, but it really is the perfect thing to warming you up! I remember I had it after a super chilly tour of Schloss Sanssouci on a particularly cold and windy day (the wind was so strong that my iPhone weather had a symbol I have never seen before haha!) and after ONE mug, I was so warm, I had to open my down jacket as I was feeling too warm. Wow!
Personally the Glühwein from this stall in Schloss Charlottenburg was the best I’ve ever tried. But then again, I haven’t tried that much. This was smooth and delicious instead of the super strong ones I’ve tried. We had it mit Alkohol (with Alcohol) of course! Some places have the alcohol-free versions for those who cannot drink alcohol for whatever purposes.
When you go around the Christmas markets, you will also find other version of Gluhwein from other parts of Europe, like Glögg (Scandinavian) or Glögli (Finnish) and they all have their slight variations in terms of ingredients. I tried Glögg at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market and it came with a spoon to scoop the nuts and golden raisins inside and there was some Vanilla Vodka in it too. YUM. If you feel cold while walking around the Christmas Markets, then pick up a mug of Glühwein and walk around with it! It will warm up your hands and in no time your cheeks will be warm and rosy red! Mine can be on fire for hours after the a mug. =)
*GOOD TO KNOW: Glühwein is served in mugs which have a Pfand or deposit. So don’t be startled if, when it is time to pay, the amount sounds really expensive because it includes the Pfand, say around 3 € or so. You will see different shapes, sizes and designs of mugs all over Berlin and the great thing about it is if you want to take them home, you are free to forfeit the Pfand and you are the proud owner of a Christmas themed mug. How cool is that? I know someone who likes to collect them.
Roasted Almonds or Gebrannte Mandeln
These are roasted almonds that are coated with caramelised sugar. So delicious. The taste reminds me of peanut brittle. This is TD’s new addiction. He needs to get a small bag (klein: 100grams) whenever we go to a Christmas Market. They also have many other kinds of nuts which I have yet to try!
These are long sausages made with pork which are grilled over wood and served on a piece of bread with your choice of ketchup or mustard. This shop provides the mustard and ketchup on the side and you serve your self. Some shops will ask you ketchup oder sent (mustard) and I say beides (both). I wonder if I am saying it correctly with the “S” in the end?
I always like mine a little burnt and crispy so the dunkel or dark coloured ones are good to ask for. Do you like your wurst well-done too?
Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmuss
I have to say that this is my absolute favourite Christmas Market food find! It is potato pancakes with apple sauce. The Willkommen ladies said we have to try it with the Apple sauce. At first I found it strange – I would sooner put ketchup on it haha – but I am a sucker for the melding of sweet and savoury so I was instantly hooked! But then again I am a sucker for anything potato – fried, baked, boiled even – and I think that they were created just to make me fat haha. Darn this love hat relationship with carbs! They are just so good, I just can’t seem to help myself! =p
Chocolate and Sweets
It seems that chocolates and sweets are all over the place during Christmas. You will find so many shops selling sweets in the Christmas markets. Kids and sweettooths alike must feel like they are in heaven. I found the shop below so interesting because their chocolates are realistic replicas of things – cellphones, a steel faucet, nuts and bolts, etc. I could hardly believe they are chocolate! The workmanship is amazing!
So the Christmas Markets are not just for the food, but it’s definitely part and parcel of the experience. It is also for shopping! I saw so many interesting things. Though I didn’t indulge because they are currently out of my budget. I really enjoyed looking and exploring though!
The wooden man with a pipe in his mouth is actually an incense holder. You place the incense cone inside his body and then the smoke comes out of his mouth. How clever!
How cute and cozy are those super soft fluffy wool houseboats? And wouldn’t a functioning nut cracker be so cool to have?
Below are other shops that I found interesting. I can’t believe that this year there are around 250 merchants!
Natural products and Aromatherapy
bio Honey and Bee by-products
Christmas Decor and Snow Globes
I especially loved this store. How suß are those angels? (my Deutsch friend just taught me that suß didn’t only mean sweet but also cute.) And I’ve always wanted a snow globe. The huge one pictured below (much bigger than your average snow globe) is about 89 €.
A few more tidbits about Schloss Charlottenburg Christmas Market:
- They have concerts and other happenings in the evenings.
- They also have special lights in the evening.
- It’s one of the most famous Christmas Markets in Berlin’s over 70 Christmas Markets so if you don’t want to get stressed with bumper to bumper foot traffic and long lines, I recommend going for lunch (check the opening times below) or at around 3pm.
- There are about 250 merchants in this particular market so it’s quite huge and in the very back there is even rides for the kids.
- When we went there was no entrance fee. I think it is a free christmas market, but some do have an entrance fee of around 1 €.
- Christmas Markets close after December 26th so we are planning to get our fill!
- Different Christmas markets in different area are bound to have different specialties. I don’t know if they have it in the Schloss Charlottenburg, but I definitely need to go back to Gendarmenmarkt for the cheese raclette! Aaaaah!
- To read more about Christmas Markets click here and here.
- To see a list of Berlin’s many Christmas Markets click here.
I hope you enjoyed this post! If I missed out on any interesting information or you have other Christmas market food specialties that you think I should try, do drop me a line! I always appreciate tips from friends and readers!
- Spandauer Damm 20-24 14059 Berlin location map
- 2013 opening hours
- 25th of November – 26th of December 2013
- Mon-Thu 02.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
- Fri-Sun 12.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
- 25th of December 12.00 a.m. – 08.00 p.m.
- 26th of December 12.00 a.m. – 08.00 p.m.
- Dogs are not allowed (except for guide dogs)