Berlin's Wintergarten Variete is so much more than dinner and a show. This popular theater allows visitors to enjoy acrobats soaring overhead, live music, top-of-the-line dancing, and witty comedic performances in world-class shows. The intimate theater is one of Berlin's top attractions with its dreamy interior of dark velvet and wood complete with a starry ceiling, evoking the atmosphere of the 1920s.
History of Wintergarten Variete
Opened within the Central Hotel in the Mitte neighborhood in 1887, the theater featured a range of variety performances. Stars such as Saharet, clowns Grock and Charlie Rivel, Yvette Guilbert, and iconic escape artist Houdini all performed there.
The venue achieved world-wide acclaim in 1895 by becoming one of the first movie theaters in the world. The Berlin-born Skladanowsky brothers were paid the princely sum of 2,500 Goldmark to present their short six-second films along with musical accompaniment to rapt audiences.
By the roaring 1920s, Berlin's nightlife was legendary. From speakeasies to variety and revue theater, Berlin was the place to live it up. The Wintergarten's other-worldly auditorium transported audiences to a show beneath the stars, cradled in rich wood and plush velvet.
This entertainment boom—along with most other activities—was halted by World War II. The war put an end to leisure activities and heavy air raid bombings destroyed the theater in June 1944. But the legendary Wintergarten continued to live on in the hearts of Berliners. It re-opened in a former '70s and ;80s punk club on Potsdamer Street in 1992. Magnificently costumed performers once again soared above mesmerized crowds. The theater had never abandoned its historic allure and its many programs continue to be a draw for the more than 2 million visitors who came to the theater in the first two years. In a nod to the theater's illustrious past, look for display cases in the lobby that highlight the many legendary props and costumes.
Visting Wintergarten Variete
Visitors can sit at a table for eight and enjoy everything from the afternoon ShowCafé for the entire family to murder mystery dinners to saucy evening performances. The program changes regularly so check the spielplan for current listings.
When choosing seats, note that the first row may require audience participation so if you are a little shy, try to select something in the second row. Performances generally last three hours and are accompanied by food and/or drinks. While German is the language used in the performance, there isn't much dialogue.
What to Eat & Drink at Wintergarten Variete
Half of the fun of attending a show at Wintergarten is the many dining options. Depending on which performance you choose, visitors dine on elaborate snacks, cocktails, wines and sekts (German sparkling wine), and beers, or fanciful three-course meals. The cuisine hits on German and international favorites with vegetarian and vegan options (as well as the ability to cater to dietary requirements if given advance notice).
Among your dining options:
- Show & Drink: To take advantage of the best of the Wintergarten, select this option for first-class entertainment and meal service. This option begins an hour before the start of the show with meal choices ordered from the restaurant menu à la carte. Expect to pay 17 to 30 euros for hauptgänge (main course).
- Show & Wine: For a lighter yet equally enjoyable option, select show & wine to add a bottle of Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc that will help you be even more dazzled by the performances.
If you want to experience the food and don't have time for a show, you can still visit Le Bistro for coffee, cake, or a light meal for about 6 euros. The bistro is open from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is also open outside of show times, and is available for private and corporate events.
How to Buy Tickets for Wintergarten Variete
The box office is located in the Zauberladen store is open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Monday, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday (or at the Show Café from 2:00 pm), and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The box office is also open in the evenings Wednesday to Saturday from 6:30 p.m. until the start of the show as well as Sunday 4:30 p.m. until the start of the show.
The ticket hotline is 49-30-588433. It is available from Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday and public holidays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tickets for an evening show start at 44.95 euros. Discounts are available for students and seniors. Visitors to the city should take advantage of the Berlin Welcome Card which offers 25 percent off ticket prices.