The streets and alleys are aglow with the warm light escaping from living rooms. Little Christmas trees decorate the facades of the houses, adding to the romantic mood. The Old Town houses, dating from the 15th to 17th centuries, provide a fantastic and unique backdrop for the distinctive Bern Christmas Market.
The town of Bern features not only one, but two lovely Christmas Markets. Both are very popular and have been organized for twenty years, one at the Waisenhausplatz (Orphanage Square), and the other one in the Old Town. About 100 stands propose a multitude of fine Christmas ware for sale. The arts and crafts market at the foot of the mighty Bern Minster, at the Münsterplatz (Minster Square), overflows with gifts, which are lovingly wrapped in a special "wrapping hut". You may also watch a glass blower shape a delicate object, stroll through the covered arcades of medieval Bern or enjoy the culinary delicacies in one of the two inns set in the festive atmosphere of the Bern Christmas fair.
Glühwein will help to warm you up again, and there are plenty of stalls offering snacks and nourishment. A visit to one of the legendary restaurants in the Old Town - either the 350-year-old Klötzlikeller or the Kornhauskeller turns a visit to this magical market into something really special.
Christmas in Bern
A visit to Bern at Advent is well worth while. The well-known Bern Christmas Market held at the Waisenhausplatz and the Münsterplatz evolved from Bern’s general market and is a long-established tradition attracting crowds of shoppers. Visitors can soak up the (pre-) Christmas atmosphere at the Waisenhausplatz for the entire month of December, while the market on the Münsterplatz lasts around three weeks.
The market at the Münsterplatz, set up right in front of the Bern Minster entrance with its famous Last Judgement, creates a very special mood. While the Waisenhausplatz market offers a wide range of wares and Christmas artifacts, the Münsterplatz market is devoted primarily to Bernese handicrafts ranging from flowers, dried flowers, games, collages, carvings, scented burners, fur slippers, glassware, glass jewellery, hand-woven articles, wooden objects, wooden games, hats, a vast variety of ceramics, candles, leather goods, minerals, natural cosmetics, jewellery and lots more.
From the culinary viewpoint, too, the Bern Christmas Market has much to offer: mulled cider and wine, caramel cake and gingerbread. In between browsing you can take a rest at a simple market bar, and warm yourself up with a glass of mulled wine before continuing your stroll through the colourful market stalls with their many original gift ideas.
Although the Bern Christmas Market is held in two separate locations, they are within easy walking distance of each other - a little less than ten minutes apart. As you walk from one to the other, take advantage of the opportunity to view the wonderful Christmas lights in the city streets and alleys, and let the spirit of Advent inspire you.
Needless to say, it’s also worth strolling along the covered arcades past the beautifully decorated windows of Bern’s department stores and boutiques, which are additionally open for some Sundays in Advent for shoppers’ convenience.
And if you want to meet Santa Claus in Bern, even this is possible. Every year the Kramgasse Association of Traders and the Santa Claus Guild organise a visit by Santa on the first Sunday in Advent. First there is carol singing in Kramgasse, after which Santa Claus emerges from the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) with his retinue.