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For expats and émigrés, Christmas is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you’re a thousand miles away from your family. And on the other hand, you’re a thousand miles away from your family. So while all your German friends are grumbling about overbearing mothers or disapproving family members, you’re facing a solitary night, unloved and all alone, a tear trickling down your frozen face as you wander deserted streets and gaze at the icy Spree.

But wait! You don’t have to resign yourself to a bag of paprika chips and It’s a Wonderful Life on YouTube. Berlin Loves You has gone around the city to compile a handy list of Christmas activities for orphans just like you.

Salt 'n Bone knows how to deliver a roast.

Salt ‘n Bone knows how to deliver a roast.

Eat Your Dinner in a Fancy Restaurant

No culinary skills? Forgot to go shopping? Not to worry! Believe it or not, a few of Berlin’s top restaurants are actually open on Christmas Eve and serving up serious Weihnacht eats.

Salt ‘n Bone – Schliemannstr 31, Prenzlauer Berg
Yes, Carnivore Heaven is open on 24th December. In fact, their Christmas Eve dinner has gotten to be something of a tradition in the past few years. In keeping with their usual menu of haute comfort food, the gastropub will be serving a 3-course dinner with turkey, ham, and every trimming you can imagine for €30. And there are seats at the bar so solitary diners don’t have to eat alone. Warm up with a hot toddy and quench your thirst with their expert selection of craft beer.
More Info & Reservations

Zenkichi – Johannisstr 20, Mitte
It’s a noir izakaya with secluded dining areas, so you won’t find a festive dining experience here. But if you have a sweetie to seduce or a bestie to catch up with, Zenkichi is perfect for a tête-a-tête over an exquisite meal. Open on Christmas Eve, the menu offers a wide variety of traditional Japanese small plates and a comprehensive selection of sake. Choose a crisp junmai sake and the grilled Saikyo Black Cod in Kyoto miso marinade: a smoky, buttery confection that is beyond any fish dish you’ve ever had. Or let the chef choose for you with a 4-course or 8-course omakase.
More Info & Reservations

Michelberger – Warschauer Str 39, Friedrichshain
Berlin’s hottest hipster hotel is open and so is its convivial restaurant. Settle down in the candle-lit dining room and gaze out the arched windows at the U1 coming and going across the street as you sip a beer brewed by the restaurant. The prix-fixe dinner is €30 for two courses or €40 for three courses with eclectic choices for both meat-eaters and vegans. Plus, the hotel is offering a special rate of €50 per night over the weekend so if you’re too lazy to roll home after dinner, you can check into one of their chic designer rooms and turn a nice dinner into a staycation.
More Info & Reservations

Rosa Caleta – Muskauer Str 9, Kreuzberg
Well, you didn’t make it to the Caribbean this Christmas, but you can still have a classy Jamaican dinner at Rosa Caleta. From 24-26 December, they’re serving up four different 3-course prix-fixe menus from €28 to €40. Choices include a succulent honey ginger jerk duck leg with poached pears for dessert, or roasted hen breast in coconut milk followed by ginger pannacotta.
More Info & Reservations

Weihnachten Verückt für Alle at YAAM, 2014. Photo by Frank Kopperschläger.

Weihnachten Verückt für Alle at YAAM, 2014. Photo by Frank Kopperschläger.

Skip the Beast Feast

Food isn’t the only thing going on Christmas. Here are a few options that don’t involve chowing down.

Refugees Welcome
Rather than overeating, how about feeding the homeless? Since 2010, the biggest Christmas dinner in Berlin has been hosted by activist group Kälte Nothilfe Berlin at YAAM. More than 1,000 homeless people and refugees are expected at Weihnachten Verrückt für Alle this year, along with about 500 big-hearted Berliners. Preparations begin at 11AM, with free food, music, and performances starting at 1PM and lasting all through the night. Get into the real Christmas spirit by volunteering your time and talents.
YAAM – An der Schillingbrücke 3, Friedrichshain – More Info

Movie Night
The New York City tradition of Chinese food and a film on Christmas doesn’t translate in Berlin. Well, there’s the leetle problem that there’s basically no Chinese people. But while lo mein may be a sad shadow of its greasy New York self, it’s totally possible to catch a film on Christmas. Lichtblick Kino is showing Jim Jarmusch’s 1991 existential omnibus opus Night on Earth at 8pm on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas Day, Kulturfabrik Moabit is screening several recent arthouse hits: the Coen Brother’s Hollywood whodunit Hail Caesar! (6pm), Toddy Hayne’s 1950s lesbian love story Carol (8pm), and Alejandro Iñarritu’s frontier survival tale The Revenant (8pm).
Dec 24 – Night on Earth at Lichtblick Kino, Kastanienallee 77, Prenzlauer Berg – More Info
Dec 25 – Hail Caesar!, Carol, The Revenant at Kulturfabrik Moabit, Lehrterstr 35 – More Info

Booze and Burlesque
If you’re trying to shake the holiday blues, then Zum Starken August is the place for you. It’s almost impossible to drink alone at this friendly bar where the denizens of Berlin’s underground cabaret scene hang out. Christmas Eve just happens to be a Saturday, so you’ll find yourself ogling a burlesque babe in between chugging craft beer and downing Mexikaner shots. The dish du jour is 1920s dance sensation Anja Pavlova. She’ll be shaking her yes yes yes at 10pm and 11pm.
Zum Starken August – Schönhauser Allee 56, Prenzlauer Berg – More Info

1920s burlesque dancer Anja Pavlova.

A Whiskey With a View
It’s five flights up to the Sputnik Kino but the view over Berlin is pretty sweet. And if you’re a whiskey connoisseur, then you’ll really want to hike up those steps on Christmas Day. Slowlands is turning the cinema into a pop-up whiskey bar and they’re offering 30 kinds of single malts, most of which is all but unavailable in Berlin. The star of the night is a rare 19-year old single barrel cask from the venerable Springbank distillery in Scotland. Drinks will be accompanied by a soundtrack of avant-garde, goth, and industrial music. Distilled music to go with the finest distilled spirits.
Sputnik Kino Bar- Hasenheide 54 (3 Hinterhof, 5th Floor), Neukölln – Facebook Event Page

Not Your Usual Christmas Carols
Even if you think singing in public is a fate worse than death, you’ll find yourself flipping through Monster Ronson’s enormous songbook and shedding all your inhibitions onstage. The glam karaoke cornerstone of Berlin is open all Christmas weekend with an Anti-Xmas Party hosted by Supernoa on Christmas Eve followed by a liquid brunch on Christmas Day with Ripsy. It’ll be one big, welcoming family of drag queens, wackos, weirdos, orphans, and outsiders all belting out their best songs. What more do you need for a perfect Christmas?
Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke – Warschauer Str 34, Friedrichshain – More info on their website

Monster Ronson's Ichiban Karaoke.

Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke.

Christmas Kicks

Need to blow off some steam after being polite to your family all night? Looking for some exercise having gained 5 kilos over the holidays? Put on your dancing shoes and head out to these frolic pads.

Bassy Club – Schönhauser Allee 176A, Prenzlauer Berg
For old school rock ‘n roll, head on over to the Bassy Club over Christmas weekend. DJs Stroko and Kammer will be spinning a grooving mix of garage, funk, soul, and surf on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas Day, Bassy bends their “no music after 1969” rule for Else Edestahl, the doyenne of Bohéme Sauvage. She’ll be hosting an ‘80s vinyl night with DJ Ragnar (The 7” Man) and DJ Palme from the long-running ‘80s new wave, indie, and synth party at Factory.
24 Dec – Swinging Sixties with DJs Stroko and Kammer, more info on Bassy’s website
25 Dec – In the Air Tonight ‘80s Vinyl with DJ Ragnar & DJ Palme, more info on their Facebook event page

Wild at Heart – Weiner Str 20, Kreuzberg
Berlin’s badass punk rock dive bar is also open all Christmas weekend. Rockers and rebels are invited to mosh to DJ Zip and get their drunk on at the Lonely Hearts Xmas Special on 24th December. No frills, no bullshit, and best of all, no entrance fee. And if you’re jonesing to bust a move on Christmas Day, catch rock ‘n’ roll regular Johnny Rocket live on stage with his dirty guitar riffs and stomping percussion beats.
24 Dec – Lonely Hearts Xmas Special with DJ Zip, more info on their website
25 Dec – Johnny Rocket & DJ Zip, more info on their website

And of course, if you’re a slave to the rave, then you’ve got a plethora of choices for a delirious night of electronic beats:

Weihnachtsgedeck @ Kultstätte Keller
Karl-Marx-Straße 52, Neukölln

Homopatik @ Salon zur Wilden Renate
Alt-Stralau 70, Friedrichshain

Lorem Xmas @ Ipse
Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 2a, Alt-Treptow

Exquisite Weihnacht @ Suicide Circus
Revaler Str 99, Friedrichshain

Regardless of what you choose to do, we hope your Yuletide is merry and gay. Berlin Loves You on Christmas and every day. Ho ho ho!

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About Author

Victoria Linchong is a NYC native who writes about theater, film, underground communities, ethnic groups, untold history, and amazing personalities. She has penned biographies of radical Latino writers, written about the beginning of Off-Off Broadway, and blogged her sex life for New York Magazine. She's also a director, producer, and performer in theater and film. But in Berlin, you can mostly find her taking off her clothes as the campy burlesque artiste Viva Lamore. [email protected]

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