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Christmas at the Tierpark in Berlin – a shining Christmas wonderland

by Dec 8, 2019Berlin

Imagine a shining Christmas wonderland of lights. One with a magically illuminated castle, skaters gliding across a frozen pond surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights, gently falling snow, and the soft sound of carolers singing Christmas favorites filtering through the surrounding forest. While we can’t promise falling snow, Christmas at the Tierpark (also known as Christmas at the Zoo and Weihnachten im Tierpark) in Berlin comes as close as you can get to a perfect Christmas wonderland.

Tierpark Berlin’s Christmas illuminations, held for the first time in 2019, was designed by the company, Deutsche Entertainment AG, that has successfully operated Christmas Garden Berlin at the Botanical Garden since 2016.

Castle Of Dreams At The Weihnachten Im Tierpark Berlin

In its first year, Christmas at the Tierpark opened November 21 and will stay open through Jan. 5, 2020 – we assume it will have approximately the same timing in subsequent years. Entry into the winter wonderland is controlled with a limited number of tickets available each hour to ensure as peaceful of an experience as possible. Once inside the park, you can stay as long as you want (closing was 10:30 p.m. although the last entry is at 9 p.m.)

HITT Tip:  If you are visiting Tierpark Berlin during the day, you will have to leave the animal park by 4:30 p.m. and then reenter for the Christmas at the Zoo event (“Weihnachten im Tierpark”) with a separate ticket. Tierpark Berlin is in fact one of the largest public gardens in Berlin and billed as Europe’s largest animal park with 7,800 animals representing over 900 species on display along a circular walking path of more than 20 kilometers.

While the one-way 2-kilometer path winding through Tierpark Berlin does include a few animal exhibits, this is not a walk through a zoo by any stretch of the imagination – animals need their rest too and need the night away from lights and caroling humans. (What is the difference between an animal park (Tierpark) and a zoo? The Tierpark is a large green space of nearly 400 acres with animals here and there, while the zoo is all about the animals with less green space.)

Christmas At The Zoo Illuminated Angel

Like the Christmas Garden at the Botanical Garden, Christmas at the Zoo is not a Christmas market. It is a place to come and spend time wandering slowly among gorgeously illuminated trees, gazing at beautiful reflections on the water, and taking in the glittering spectacle of the historic Schloss Friedrichsfelde manor house. This palace serves as an illuminated backdrop to a adjacent ice skating rink, warming fire rings, and festively decorated huts with the delightful smells of gingerbread, mulled wine (Glühwein), and Christmas spices.

The Star Tunnel At Christmas At The Tierpark In Berlin

HITT Tip: The Schloss Friedrichsfelde is a historical gem hidden away in the middle of the Tierpark. It was originally built in 1685 for the Brandenburg Navy director and served as a home for royalty including Ferdinand of Prussia. It was plundered by Soviet troops in 1945 and remained a ruin until being restored as a part of the zoo and park in 1981.

My favorite part of Christmas at the Zoo was the walk from the entrance along “Magic Castle Avenue,” over the “Wishing Bridge,” through the “Shining Garden” in front of the manor house, to the fountains and the “Castle of Dreams” (the illuminated Schloss).

HITT Tip:  Dress warmly as Christmas at the Tierpark is an open-air event and stays open rain, snow, mist or bitter cold. Of course, there are numerous hot drink and snack stands along the way to ensure you are able to warm your body and soul as needed.

Food Huts At Christmas At The Tierpark In Berlin

The actual two-kilometer walking route does not officially begin until you arrive at the skating rink and food and drink huts so wear comfy walking shoes. Keep your eyes peeled for lovely reflections along the walk (assuming the water is not frozen which means the reflections turn more into glowing ice displays).

Christmas At The Tierpark Berlin Stars On Ice

If the quantity of ooo’s and ahh’s are any indication of popularity, the “Dancing Stars” display (creative use of disco balls and lighting!) and the “Magic Forest” will delight all visitors as much as they did me. I spent a long while standing in the forest watching the colored lights in the trees move and change.

Moon Mist And Colors In The Magic Forest In Christmas At The Tie

Compared to Christmas Garden at the Botanical Garden with its fantastic sound-effects and music throughout, the Christmas at the Tierpark displays are a little more quiet, with more of an emphasis on simply enjoying the walk, the gorgeous castle illuminations, and the conviviality at the little village of huts at the castle with drinks and warming fires.

Weihnachten Im Tierpark Berlin Ice Skating Rink Castle

 

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Heads up! This information on Weihnachten im Tierpark (Christmas at the Zoo) in Berlin was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.
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Photographs: by Michael Hodgson & Therese Iknoian