Imagine yourself walking between conifers and log cabins, your gaze traveling over the river as the fresh breeze carries in it the smell of gingerbread and that steaming bowl of punch in your hands. What sounds like a perfect winter vacation somewhere in Sweden is actually just around the corner – at least when you come to Berlin for a city trip: The Winter Village at ARENA in Berlin Treptow is, in the true sense of the word, a floating island of winterly grace right in the German capital.
Those who know the famous Badeschiff (a floating pool-and-party place in the Spree river during summer) will be surprised to see the change: Long gone are sun-tanned beach bodies in bikinis, poolside cocktails, and soft techno beats. Instead, the creative masterminds of ARENA Berlin have turned the floating islands on Spree river into a Scandinavian christmas village, including Swedish wooden huts, a tiny fir forest, and – most importantly – two climate-neutral ice rinks. For the next couple of weeks the Winter Village will thus be an oasis of christmas romance in the grey capital. You can purchase all sorts of arts and crafts from local designers, as well as delicious street food and warming beverages. Children can enjoy the program at Winterstube, a cozy hut offering handicrafts, biscuit making, and storytelling for the little ones, while their parents can go ice skating or try out curling. There will also be regular live music as well as other events, like a craft beer tasting every Saturday (6:30 pm), a Thanksgiving BBQ (November 26th), and the Swedish Saint Lucy’s Day on December 13th. Well and since the broad Spree river is all you can see around the floating Winter Village, it really does feel a bit like an evening in the Swedish countryside.
From Industriepalast Hostel you can reach the Winter Village in a nice little walk of 15 minutes; or you just take a cab for the “short distance” fare of 5,- € flat. Until the day before Christmas you can visit the ice rinks and the Winterstube every day, the entire Winter Village is open Thursday to Sunday. There is an admission fee of 1,- € that already includes the ice rinks. Rental skates will set you back another 3,- € per hour. The opening hours in detail:
Open: November 5 to December 23, 2015.
Ice rink & Winterstube: Daily 12 – 6 pm; Thursday to Sunday open until the Winter Village closes.
Winter Village: Thursday (4 – 8 pm), Friday (4 – 10 pm), Saturday (2 – 10 pm) & Sunday (12 – 8 pm).
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.