One of the most fun places in one of the most beautiful districts of Berlin is the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg. It was originally built as a Bavarian brewery in 1842 and in 1853 beer production was taken over by Jobst Schultheiss. It was not until almost a century later that the Schultheiss AG was founded in 1937 and became one of the most successful beer companies in the German capital. In 1887 the brewery was expanded to encompass over 270,000 square feet encompassing 20 buildings over six huge courtyards. It was badly damaged during the World War II yet in 1974 managed to become a protected historical site. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 the brewery changed hands numerous times and ended up being owned by the Treuhand agency. With the help of Wolfgang Thierse, a member of the parliament, the complex was renovated in 1998 and the Kulturbrauerei finally came into its own as a cultural and commercial center.
The architecture alone warrants a visit but of course the establishments located within are what makes this such a worthwhile attraction today for both tourists and locals. Nowadays the Kulturbrauerei is home to a long list of commercial establishments; the Franz Club and Restaurant, Soda Club, Kesselhaus/Machinenhaus, Alte Kantina, a music school, dance studio, fitness studio, 2 billiard halls, a movie theater, a literature workshop, and even the Berlin branch of the New York University. Over the past decade real estate in neighborhood has become one of the most sought after in the entire city. To the north and south are the baby boomer squares of Helmholz and Kollwitz Platz respectively. Just past Konnopke’s famous currywurst stand to the west across Schonhauser Allee is the uber trendy and hip Kastanienallee as well as Mauerpark where Berlin’s largest flea market has sprung up over past few years. Each year more and more tourists flock to Prenzlauer Berg to experience the renaissance of the former East Berlin.
Every year at the Kulturbrauerei one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the city, known as the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt takes place. The market boasts a Scandinavian flair and is comprised of 50 different stands selling all the traditional winter food and drinks and accompanying trinkets. At this time of year however the main event is the annual Silvester or New Year’s party. With thousands of Berliners and tourists taking part each year it is one of the most happening events in the city. The price of admission ranges between 25 to 150 Euro. A ticket grants you access to 15 different dance halls with over 30 djs spread throughout the complex, as well as roof access for the fireworks show at midnight. Berlin on New Year’s Eve is truly a sight to behold. Fireworks are legal, as is public drinking and at midnight these two traditions come together for a pyrotechnic display that can’t be beat. If you are not afraid of the cold and cheap like myself you may just want to layer up, fill a back pack with booze and fireworks and take to the streets. The biggest public outdoor gathering takes place between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory column with hundreds of thousands of merry revelers. Some other nice areas to hang out outdoors include Oranienburger Strasse, and the area around Eberswalderstrasse. But if you are looking for something a bit more indoor and club oriented the Kulturbrauerei Silvester party might be just the thing.