I’m not sure about you but the annual Christmas markets across the UK seem to have lost a bit of their charm for me now, I can almost predict the location of each overly commercialised stall at the Manchester markets now. With this in mind I went in search of something a bit different, my search took me to the quirky and creative city of Berlin.
The Weihnachtszauber at Gendarmenmarkt is set in the grounds of the Konzerhaus (concert house) and the French and German Cathedral. It boasts to have been decorated with over 1000 strings of lights and an array of heated tents hosting michelin stared chefs offering haute cuisine.
There is a wonderful array of indoor designer maker craft stalls selling unique Christmas gifts, such as- Glassblowers, Candlemakers, Jewellers, leather goods, Origami, Embroidery, Milliners, Ivory carving, the list goes on. This was such a refreshing change from the predictable stalls I know from the UK, I felt inspired and couldn’t resist buying some unique and high quality gifts, which is a feeling I no longer get from a UK market.
Next up was the Neue Heimat in the Friedrichshain district, most of which is housed within a disused train repair depot, scattered with graffiti. The rough and ready industrial setting has been transformed with the simple use of fairy lights, Christmas foliage and primitive repurposed objects. The space has been divided into several rooms to host a market, food & drink stalls, gift stalls, live music & DJs, an ice skating rink and a santa’s grotto. It really is a very inspirational space, the UK Christmas markets seems a little too polished and perfect in comparison to this wonderfully magical place. It offers a relaxed meeting place to meet after work and party well into the early ours of the morning with plenty of gluhwein and food on offer to keep you fuelled up all night.
I think this trip has shown that although the UK Christmas markets bring a huge volume of visitors to our cities each year, there is always scope to be more creative and add more variety, this doesn’t need to be big budget, simple methods of decorating and repurposing can be very effective and original. Shoppers also like variety.