Every year, Berlin’s most fashionable shopping street, Ku’Damm, becomes even more glamorous with an extensive Christmas lights display.
The Kurfürstendamm, or Ku’damm for short, is the city’s famous shopping boulevard. From late November to early January (exact dates vary yearly), both the Ku’damm and Tauentzienstraße are decorated with Christmas lights making up a continuous 4.5km long festive stretch of road.
In fact, it is considered Europe’s longest street of Christmas illuminations.
History of Ku’Damm
In the mid-sixteenth century, the Ku’damm was a path leading to a hunting lodge in the Grunewald forest. By the late nineteenth century, it started transforming into a modern street full of commercial activity and became a popular place to meet in cafes or theatres.
The area was damaged during World War II, but quickly rebuilt and continued as an economic centre. After German reunification and the construction of other shopping areas in Berlin, the Ku’damm has had to share some of its commercial activity but is no less grand.
Sadly, in December 2016, 12 people were killed and dozens more injured in a terrorist attack on the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz on the Kurfürstendamm.
Walking the festive boulevard from one end to the other might not look like a lengthy walk, but it is the season for strolling!
And if you have some Christmas shopping to do, there are a variety of stores here and can combine it with a festive walk. Note that it is common for shops to be closed on Sundays in Germany so if there’s a specific one you need to visit, check their hours first.
In between shopping, pause to admire the lights, take photos, and of course warm up with a mug of mulled wine along the way.
Large entrance portals at each end of the decorated street mark the beginning and end of the display – and of course you can start at either end. In addition to the gates, there are thousands of lights in approximately 500 trees and several large, illuminated Christmas figures including a snowman and of course, Santa Claus!
The streets Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzienstraße are connected by the Breitscheidplatz where the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church stands.
There is a large and popular Christmas market on this square, where you’ll have the chance to look for gifts, or enjoy snacks and hot beverages such as Glühwein (mulled wine) or Eierpunsch which is similar to eggnog but served warm.
For a hot non-alcoholic beverage, try Kinderpunsch – literally “Children’s Punch”. It’s similar to Glühwein but made with fruit juice or fruit tea instead of wine.
When paying for your drink, you might be surprised to find the cost is higher than the listed amount – that’s because you are paying a “Pfand” or deposit for the mug. It’s usually a few Euros and covers the cost of the glass in case it gets broken or you simply decide to keep it as a souvenir.
When you’re finished with your drink, just return the mug to the vendor and they’ll return your Pfand.
How to get there
The area is very well connected by public transport, and you can use the S-Bahn, U-Bahn (subway), bus, or regional train to get there.
If you’re travelling from the centre of Berlin, it may be easiest to take an S-Bahn or U-Bahn to Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof (train station) which is just a couple of blocks away from the Christmas Market on Breitscheidplatz.
It’s also possible to take an U-Bahn to Wittenbergplatz, Kurfürstendamm or Adenauerplatz, but note that different train lines run to each of these stops so you may need to transfer. To see more of the sites in Berlin at Christmas, consider taking Bus 100, which runs between Alexanderplatz and Zoologischer Garten.
This is a good low-cost way to sightsee and enjoy some additional Christmas lights via public transport. Of course that means there is no actual tour, but it’s a convenient way to see some more of the city’s Christmas lights when you’re done walking on Ku’damm.
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