One of the many places we wanted to stop and see on our New Year’s trip to Berlin was Winter World at the Sony Center in Potzdamer Platz. We were on an extremely relaxed schedule with no deadlines and nowhere to be at any specific time so we wandered the city at our own pace. You can see Trabant taxis in the picture above as well as the largest mobile toboggan run in Europe, which is 12 meters high and 70 meters long.
We were so excited to see a Christmas market (Weihnachtsmärkte) set up and we headed straight for it. Set up on the Sony Center‘s 4,000 square meter event area, there is a little bit of something for everyone who visits. When you think of Winter World, think lights, crafts, music, food, a little glühwein, and you’ll start to understand this winter wonderland. At this time of year, you can expect to find over sixty different Christmas markets set up in Berlin. Instead of hitting the big box store to buy friends or family gifts, you could consider going to a Christmas market to get them a unique, one of a kind gift. The Christmas markets open at the end of November and stay open until New Year’s Eve.
While you’re there, you would have to, of course, sample all parts of the Christmas market. Herring sandwich anyone? If you aren’t in the mood for fish, there’s plenty of bratwurst and other assorted sausage available as one might expect in Germany.
You can always pop the little ones on a ride while you sip on a nice, warm adult beverage like my Christmas beverage of choice, glühwein or mulled wine. Most Christmas Markets like this one are open from about 10 am until around 8 or 9 pm.
Maybe ice skating, rides, or tobogganing isn’t your idea of fun. You could always try Bavarian curling, a popular sport in the Alps, which is now gaining popularity in Germany and at Winter World.
You can then head right back to the food. What could be better than donuts AND Nutella? Even if I didn’t eat any of it, the food was too good to pass up taking pictures. Look closely at the donuts and not only can you see candy cherries, but also tiny little frogs and even a snail. Too cute!
You might succumb to diabetic shock just looking at all the candy. Want to try the Riesen-Peitsche or “Giant Whip?”
How about a special Christmas cookie for your sweetheart?
Still hungry? How about a Riesen Marzipankartoffel or a giant marzipan potato? I’m a total sucker for marzipan candies. I love how they can take this candy and make it into almost anything, but I could not imagine eating an entire “potato” made of marzipan. Someone call my dentist immediately!
Maybe “ein meter popcorn” or a meter of popcorn is more your speed. You can’t walk through the Christmas market without wanting to eat as the air is filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts, popcorn, and other foods. Be careful not to overindulge at the first stand because there are so many choices available that you’ll want to try them all (or at least most!).
Perhaps you’re in the mood for chocolate? Don’t worry! You’ll find just about every kind of chocolate covered everything from bananas to grapes to apples and more.
When I happened upon the roasted nut section with all kinds of nuts roasting, from pecans to walnuts to peanuts, it was heavenly. How about some Nußmischung or nut mix?
Besides all of the food for sale, there were vendors selling all types of goods like these beautiful paper start lights. Nearby we spotted the original “Warmies Slippies Boots,” which were some kind of fuzzy slippers and “Warmies” toys. Unfortunately, I didn’t find too many unique or handmade gifts at this Christmas market.
While walking around the market, don’t forget to grab a mug of glühwein. At the markets you can usually buy the mug with the glühwein or pay a deposit and get that back when you return the mug. It was definitely cold in Berlin in December and enjoying our glühwein helped to warm us up from the inside out immediately with the first sip. I wish we had the ability while back at home in the winter time to stop anywhere on the street and pick up some glühwein to keep yourself warm. Darn open container laws in the U.S.! If you tire of walking, stop at one of the tables and chat with your friends and maybe some of the other people imbibing alongside you.
Winter World – Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market
10785 Berlin, Germany
After drinking the last of our glühwein, we walked across the street to the Sony Center. Along the way, we stopped to look at the few remnants of the Berlin Wall on display. You can find sections of the wall throughout Berlin and it is a major tourist attraction. People line up to have their pictures taken in front of the different sections of the Wall.
What is the Sony Center? It’s a large entertainment complex in Potsdamer Platz that opened in 2000.
Inside you’ll find hotel rooms, luxurious rented suites and condominiums, office space, art and film museums, cinemas, an IMAX theater, a small version of Legoland, a conference center, and restaurants. The restaurants were extremely packed with lines waiting to go in so we skipped the long lines and proceeded onward.
In the early part of the 20th century, this area was a busy city center. However, most of the buildings were damaged or destroyed during World War II. After the Berlin Wall was constructed, this part of Berlin became desolate and the remaining buildings were destroyed. However, after the reunification of Germany, the area became part of a redevelopment effort. The Sony Center was designed by Helmut Jahn and the finishing touches were completed in 2000 at a cost of €750M. In 2008, Sony sold it for less than €600M to a group of German and US investment funds, including investment bank Morgan Stanley.
More than 100,000 glowing lights sparkle within the Sony Center and provide a twinkling effect like no other. As you can see in the image above, the center is not an enclosed building as it is open to the outside. The room design was intended to be like an umbrella allowing the outside to still connect to the inside. From the engineer’s website:
The exceptional glass membrane roof rests on a ring beam weighing 500t. The alternating application of glass and fabric on a cable structure spans 102m. Structurally, the roof resembles a bicycle wheel in a horizontal position with a hanging central 42m-long king post, creating a column-free plaza.
Every hour, visitors experience a light performance in the roof as well as the amazing Sternenzauber within the extraordinary architecture. The oversized light installation contains thousands of shiny sapphire blue lights and is already an extraordinary highlight of the Sony Center “Brilliant Xmas season.” Carefully arranged details such as small Christmas woods with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs spread seasonal spirit. From Fridays to Sundays exciting highlights on stage provide entertainment for the entire family. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with the Lego Reindeer, Santa, or Snowman, too. Three cozy huts invite guests to enjoy excellent food, seasonal specialties, delicious sweets and tasty drinks.
Potsdamer Straße 4, 10785 Berlin
Visiting both Winter World and the Sony Center was a relaxing experience and it definitely whet my appetite to search out and experience more Christmas markets in the city.