Historical Fun Fair at Domäne Dahlem

May 15, 2013


Last year was our first summer in Berlin, and we stuck pretty close to the city centre in exploring the city that had become our new home. This year, we’ve decided we want to be more adventurous and make the effort to go on little day trips at the weekends. So when the Domäne Dahlem, a country estate and museum in one of the outer districts of Berlin, advertised they were having an historical fun fair the weekend before last, we were on the next train out there.


Together, the estate and the museum demonstrate the food chain from production and processing through to marketing and consumption. The estate itself is a working farm, and with the aim to education visitors, all open air ‘exhibits’, including fields and animal enclosures, have informative text panels. Subjects covered include cultivation of land, animal husbandry, gardening and landscaping. As part of the historical fair event, there were also tractor rides and rides in horse and cow drawn carts on offer.




The museum part is located in the estate’s old manor, which is also Berlin’s oldest residential building, dating back to 1560. Exhibits include an historical grocery shop, which was offering little visitors an opportunity to shop there for real for some treats, though sadly we missed the window of opportunity), a historical butcher’s shop and food laboratory from the Imperial Public Health Department. Oh, and the Death Star!*





The Domäne Dahlem hosts several fairs throughout the year, ranging from a Knight’s Tournament and a Potato Festival, to a St Martin’s Lantern Procession and a Christmas Market. And, of course, the historical fun fair we’d come to see. I haven’t been to any modern fun fairs recently, so I’m not sure how historical angling for ducks is, but the boy definitely enjoyed it – especially the toy car he received as a prize. The rather rickety looking ferris wheel on the other hand had all of the vintage flair about it, and I foolishly forgot about my fear of heights when offering to take the boy for a ride. It went a lot faster than it looked able to! Later on the boy showed his independence by insisting to ride one of the horses on the vintage merry-go-round, instead of sitting in one of the more enclosed toddler seats. We watched on tenterhooks, fully expecting him to fall off. He was fine, of course.




As well as the historical rides and games (there were several more, though we didn’t try them all out), there were also stalls selling cotton candy, home made ice creams and boiled sweets. The smell of aniseed was so overpowering, that I ended up buying a bag of sweets, a treat I usually reserve only for Christmas time. Well, I’m an easy pushover. To add to the atmosphere, many of the performers and staff were wearing period clothing, including the hurdy-gurdy man with his monkey!



It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a wonderful time. The estate, which is open year round, is free to visit when there are no fairs or other events on. The museum, which is open daily except for Tuesdays, has a small admission fee for adults aged 16 and over. During event there are special admission fees to the site, which include a visit to the museum. Although Domäne Dahlem takes a bit of time to get to, it’s easily reachable by public transport as it’s located directly opposite the subway station ‘Dahlem Dorf’ on the U3.


* The ‘Death Star’ is actually part of a weather vane, but don’t tell the husband!

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