Comprehensive guide to Berlin Germany with information on Annual Events.

Classical music
Annual Events
Annual Events

Berlin plays host to a wide range of events that attract international attention and mark the turning of the seasons for the locals.

Carnival of Cultures (Karneval der Kulturen)
(Pentecost weekend, June)
Berlin - Kreuzberg | Tel: 622 42 32, Fax: 622 35 19 |
Deeply ingrained in the German psyche is the belief that culture equals national culture. No surprise then that the German approach to immigration has been a bit schizophrenic - as an foreigner you have two options either keep to yourself with a view to going home or you integrate completely with a view to becoming a real German. Anything inbetween would open the specter of multiculturalism....

Reality check: 1 in 7 Berliners is a foreigner so the city is unavoidably multicultural. The Karneval der Kulturen is a celebration of the city´s ethnic diversity and its growth over the past 3 years indicates a welcome shift from the culture = nation mindset described above.

The Karneval is Berlin's most colourful and vivacious festival, taking place every year in June over the Whitsun weekend. Thousands of representatives from over 70 cultures don their glad rags and dance along the streets of Kreuzberg in a joyous celebration of Berlin's multi-ethnicity. Four purpose-built stages host all kinds of performances, the main stage is at Blücherplatz, the children's stage at Mariannenplatz.

Christopher Street Day
Arguably the best of Berlin's rash of summer street parades, Christopher Street Day commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots on Christopher St in New York which sparked off the modern gay liberation movement. Upwards of 70 wagons and accompanying paraders prance, pose and sashay their way from the Kurfürstendamm to Tiergarten, finishing with a grand circle around the Victory Column , Berlin's favourite phallic symbol and namesake of the local gay magazine. The champagne spurts from the majority of the floats (available also to bystanders for an appropriate fee), cooling down the mass of sexually-charged sweating dancers. Political slogans alternate with fantastic costumes, and the diversity of the spectators reflects the success of the movement. A great day out for the whole family.

Love Parade
Straße der 17 Juni. , 10557 Berlin - Tiergarten |
Once a year on a given Saturday in early July a large number of the world's party-goers gather to celebrate the now legendary Love Parade. Having moved to Strasse des 17. Juni, this street party, which started in 1989 on the Ku'damm as demonstration for love, has ballooned into the biggest Techno/Dance party in the world, attracting hedonists from all corners of the earth. Excessive amounts of bare flesh are exposed as the parade, comprising of approximately 1 million fun seekers (all with their own whistles) dancing on the back of lorries (some 250 in all) and on the street, makes its way up and down Strasse des 17. Juni and round the Großer Stern at the Victory Column in the middle of Tiergarten. Real techno fans should prepare to be disappointed as the music tends towards the mainstream-chart-house end of the market. Despite this, the ethos of the event has escalated so much that fledgling Love Parades have been hatched in Austria and England.
Accompanied every year by a cringingly cosmic motto (two such examples being "One World, One Love Parade" and "Join the Love Republic"), the Berlin parade has gradually mutated into a highly commercialised circus as each of its "partners" succeed in only blocking sunlight with their logo-emblazoned balloons. Thankfully, all such things must come to an end - 2001's event was the first totally commercial Love Parade (the Berlin Senate finally refused to accept the goings-on as a political demonstration) and it appears to have been the straw that broke the camel's back, leaving everybody with a bad taste in their mouths. As the organisers sit down at the negotiating table with city officials to ensure the longevity of Berlin's most lucrative event, rumours are spreading round the rest of the sentient world that the 2001 T-shirt may, shortly, become a collectors item.

Fuck Parade
Tel: (069) 94 35 90 90, Fax: (069) 94 35 90 92 |
Usually held on the same day as the Love Parade, the Fuck Parade (which started its life in 1997 as the Hate Parade) trampled an alternative course through the streets of Berlin. Those who began to be sickened by the highly commercialised Love Parade decided to return the day to the real soul of Berlin, and so created an event where run-down transit vans and trucks blasted out Gabba, Hard Techno and Drum 'n' Bass. It was, understandably, more fashionable than the day's highly mainstream alternative. Things have gone a bit wrong, though. An upping of the stakes in 2001, when the organisers planned a three-pronged attack on Alexanderplatz, looked as if it could really challenge its commercial rival as the party of the day. Even after the Love Parade's unexpected postponement to the weekend after, the Fuck Parade still enjoyed the billing as the curtain raiser event that was to launch Berlin's first "Love Week". Unfortunately, the Berlin Senate's decision not to accept the Love Parade's status as a political demonstration applied to the Fuck Parade as well. With no intention of paying for the clean-up, which the organisers of non-political events are obliged to take responsibility for, the Senate saw fit to pull the plug on the parade, forbidding all music. The ensuing Fuck Parade as a "demonstration for a right to demonstrate" proved to be a damp squib as the aimless organisers bellowed badly rehearsed references to music and society through megaphones while the police endeavoured to confiscate all stereos on sight. It seems the sun has nearly set on the era when street festivals could rise out of pointless protest. If the organisers of the Fuck Parade want to wear party hats and blow whistles in the future, they'd better get used to filling black plastic bags, too.

Sounds like Home (Heimatklänge)
(July - Aug)
Tempodrom am Ostbahnhof
Strasse der Pariser Kommune 10, 10243 Berlin - Friedrichshain | Tel: 318 61 40, Fax: 318 614 10 | S-Bahn Ostbahnhof | Entry: DM6, children free
In Summer from June through August the circus tent of the Tempodrom plays host to a series of concerts called "Heimatklänge". This festival of world music presents a range of music from a different country or region each year. The idea behind Heimatklänge is to present bands which are active in their home country. The result is musical selection which attempts to go beyond the sterotypes of the world music genre. The theme for the 2001 series is Soul 2 Soul: Afrika in Amerika - Amerika in Afrika. The action (which is practically free) takes place Wednesday to Saturday from 9.30pm and Sundays from 4pm.

German-American Festival
(Jul - Aug)
Truman Plaza , 14169 Berlin - Dahlem | Tel: 0172/390 09 30, Fax: 43 40 79 06 | U1 Oskar-Helene-Heim, Bus 110, 111, 115, 118 | Date: July-Aug | Times: Sun - Thu 14:00 - 23:00, Fri & Sat 14:00 - 24:00 | Price: Entry DM3 includes DM5 worth of vouchers to use at the Festival.
A regular event since 1961, Berlin´s German-American Festival is something like a cross between Disneyland and a country fair. Attractions include carnival rides, American style food and a reconstruction wild west town. Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival visitors will be treated to a rodeo complete with Bull Wrestling, Steer Roping and of course the obligatory Bucking Bronco.

Internationales Stadionfest - ISTAF (late August)
Olympischer Platz 3, Tel: 0800 2489842, Fax: no fax | U2 Olympia-Stadion (Ost), S5 Olympiastadion | Venue: Olympiastadion | Each year in late August (sometimes Sept)
No longer the climax of the prestigious, but discontinued, Golden Four athletics series, the Internationales Stadionfest (ISTAF) in the Olympic Stadium is still, nevertheless, the seventh and final meeting on the IAAF Golden League calendar. Designed to unify the elite individual meetings held in Europe, the Golden League always attracts the top names in track and field to fight it out for some big prize money. Any athlete who can win their discipline at five of the seven Meetings can win the jackpot and claim their share of 50kg of gold ingots.

Hanf Parade - Hemp Parade (late August / early September)
Tel: 24 72 02 33, Fax: no fax | Date: Sometime near the end of August | see also |
Although the German state laws on possession and use of cannabis were relaxed in 1998, a select band of individuals will not be happy until the whole rule book has been torn up. The organisers of this cannabis crusade also want to see hemp being used more in making environmentally friendly materials and pain killers. In an attempt to achieve their goal, they incite a bunch of stoned (although presumably highly dedicated) people to plod from somewhere to somewhere else. 2001's event was from Hallesches Tor to the Rotes Rathhaus near Alexanderplatz . Yet another day of over-time for the street cleaners.

Berlin Marathon
(Late September)
Waldschulallee 34, 14055 Berlin | Tel: 302 53 70, Fax: 306 22 03 | Date: Late September
Ever run 42 kilometers? In two hours? If you have, or if you just want to see someone's face after they've done it, the Berlin Marathon might be for you. Each year in September almost thirty thousand runners start at the Schloß Charlottenburg on the Straße der 17 Juni, running through ten different Berlin Berzirks before they finally break through the finish line on the Kurfurstendamm. This is Germany's biggest and fastest marathon--last year contestants came from 73 different countries. Of course, you don't have to be a record holder to join in on the action. For runners, the finish line closes at 3:00--seven hours after the starting gun. If you still need more time, you can join the power walkers' competition, which starts an hour earlier and gives you until 6:00 to pant your way down the home stretch. The race also includes a wheelchair competition, and a speed skating competition for rollerbladers. Their website has more information in English, downloadable registration forms, and even access to live coverage of the race on the big day.

51. Berliner Festwochen (Sep/Oct)
Various venues , Tel: 25 48 92 33, Fax: 25 48 92 93 |
For the past fifty years, Berlin has celebrated both classical music and international theater in September. Starting in 2000, in honor of the festival's fiftieth anniversary, the two mediums no longer had to share the spotlight. September saw notable classical musicians from all over the world performing in Berlin. This part of the program, called the "Jahrhundertklang," or "Sound of the Century" presented a retrospective of the last century in music. In October, international theater and dance companies brought their acts to the German capital. Plays in English, Chinese, French--even Hebrew made their German premieres. The music program for 2001 was to the sound of Schönberg and Beethoven.

Art Forum Berlin
International Fair for Contemporary Art
(Late Sept)
Berlin Messe Center, Messedamm 22, 14055 Berlin - Charlottenburg | Tel: ++49 - 30 - 88 55 16 43/44, Fax: ++49 - 30 - 88 55 16 45 | U2 Kaiserdamm / Bus 149 | Each year in late Sept, early Oct | Daily: Noon-8 pm | Ticket Website is in English - you just have to look hard for the English button in grey on the top of the page.Price: Day Pass: 20, Students&Evening Pass: 15
Always dreamt of being an artist, a real artist, a pro-fessional artist? Find out if you have what it takes at berlin - an overwhelming romp through over 140 galleries from Tokyo, NY, LA, Zurich, Paris, Rome, London, Prague and other wealthy parts of the world, hawking their wares on over 12000 sq.m of prime conference centre real estate. Come to smell the bullion-stained corsets of the collectors and their perfumed concubines, gigolos and spouse/business partners as they lumber through the padded esplanades aching to unload on a must-have helium inflated floating life raft for their Chamonix hunting villa. OK - its horrible and crass, but its a good shot of reality for anyone interested in art today. What's most important is what sells. Quote of the vernissage: One art dealer chatting to another "Paris is so provincial daarling - just like Düsseldorf - OK it may be pretty - but its so provincial."

Jazz Fest Berlin
Schaperstrasse 24, 10557 Berlin - Tiergarten | Tel: 39 78 70, Fax: no fax | S-Bhf Spichernstrasse (exit Bundesallee), Bus 249 | Venue: Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Other venues: stilwerk forum , Quasimodo , Tränenpalast , A-Trane | Date: Annually Oct/Nov. | Admission: variable.
The Jazz Fest Berlin has a long and enviable history. It started out in 1964 and - at least for the rest of that decade - was involved in presenting some very interesting and swinging concerts. In its early years, it was closely connected with the late Joachim Ernst Berendt, who was known throughout Germany as the 'Jazz Pope'. Berendt brought Jazz musicians together from all corners of the globe and put them on stage together. The results can be heard on his influential and collectable series of MPS/SABA records 'Jazz meets the world'.

In recent years, the Jazz Fest has been criticised as having gone somewhat off the boil. However in 2000, it came back into its own, presenting as it did everything from wordjazz (Ruth Weiss) to cross-cultural fusions (British tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore, his quartet and Amampondo, a six-piece South African drumming group). 2001 brought a new musical director and proved to be worthwhile event for fans of Nordic jazz.

aaa - The Berlin Motor Show
(Oct 26th-Nov 3rd, 2002)
Messedamm , 14055 Berlin - Charlottenburg | Tel: 30 38 20 14, Fax: 30 48 20 30 | U Bhf Kaiserdamm, S Bhf Westkreuz, Witzleben, Eichkamp/Messe, Bus X21, X34, X49, 104, 139, 149, 219. | Alternate website: | Date: Autumn (Oct-Nov) every even no. year. | Times: 9-18, Fri 9-20. | Price: day ticket 19 ( 12 conc), parties of 20 or more 17 per person, Happy Hour everyday from 3 p.m. on 12, 30 October Family Day 12 per person.
Held in the Autumn of every even numbered year (next in 2002) is the "aaa - The Berlin Motor Show". Aimed at all who are interested in cars, whether in the business or not, the show gives all motor-related industries an opportunity to showcase their vehicles, products and services to a wider audience. With a supporting programme of audience-oriented shows and activities, an interesting day out for all motor fans is assured.

Jewish Culture Days - Jüdische Kulturtage (November)
Fasanenstraße 79-80, 10623 Berlin - Charlottenburg | Tel: 880 28 230, Fax: 880 28 259 | Date: annually in November | Main venue: Jüdisches Gemeindehaus
Each year in November Berlin celebrates its Jewish heritage with two weeks of events ranging from concerts to films to exhibitions. This year's theme is "Tel Aviv Non Stop", another interesting mix of culture from dance to politics in a variety of venues. The diverse musical programme will be covering a wide range of styles from classical organ symphonies to Isreali jazz. Most accessible for non-German speakers is the cinema programme at Arsenal and Filmkunsthaus Babylon which showcases a certain number of films in original version with English subtitles. Multi-kulti scenesters may find the show of young Jewish fashion on Saturday 17th of some interest. See the website for a full programme.

Verzaubert International Queer Film Festival
(Nov - Dec)
Hackescher Höfe Theaters | Rosenthaler Str. 40-41, 10117 Berlin - Mitte | Tel: 283 46 03, Fax: no fax | S-Bahn Hackescher Markt | U8 Weinmeisterstr | Tram Lines 1,2,3,4,5,13,15,53 | Tickets: 15 per film, DM19 for special showings
The Verzaubert Queer Film Festival takes place across Germany in November - December each year. The festival comes to Berlin in late November and for a week presents a selection of film titles, from full length features and short films to documentaries at the Hackesche Höfe Kino in Mitte.

Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte)
(late Nov - Xmas)

Germans tend to see the anglo version of Christmas as basically lacking - what little the British do have is mainly due to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, who tried to improve the depressing situation in England with the traditions of his homeland when he married Queen Victoria in 1840. One thing he forgot to transplant was the Christmas market, one of the most popular of Christmas events. Christmas markets are held all over Germany in the run up to the night itself, and are inevitably bustling with locals and tourists, full of Christmas cheer in the form of Glühwein, roast chestnuts and gingerbread. In between such warming fare, there are plenty of traditional decorations and other Christmas paraphanalia for the eager shopper. In Berlin, markets are held on Alexander Platz , on Unter den Linden near the Opera House , and around the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church . On Advent weekends, the alternative/ecological Christmas market is held along Sophienstr in Mitte. The old centre of Spandau is also host to its own Christmas market, reputedly the biggest in Europe.

Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival
(6 - 17 Feb 2002)
The Berlinale takes place every February, with screenings held in various cinemas located citywide. All details are widely advertised in the press and by the festival organisers in the weeks prior to the event.
Berlin's biggest annual event before anybody had heard of the Love Parade, the Berlinale is the third largest film festival in Europe. Although aimed mostly at industry professionals, that doesn't stop the whole city going film-mad for two weeks in February. Nothing in Berlin is complete without controversy, and the Berlinale is no exception. Contentious points for the 2001 Berlinale included the big name no-shows (namely Gus Van Sant, Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson and Johnny Depp), and the usual gripes at Festival head Moritz de Handeln´s program of safely commercial films that served in many cases as a convenient forum for films being released soon or concurrently in German cinemas. And no Berlinale is complete without the critics´ cries of too few German films - this year´s only competition entry, by a Greek-German director and about a German-American marriage, could not even claim full citizenship. So maybe it is a little too Hollywood and then Hollywood doesn't even show up. But many Berliners see that as all the more fun for the locals. With bigger theatres, more tickets, less glitz and fewer scenesters than Sundance or Cannes, the Berlinale is truly a festival for all of Berlin - that is, for anyone with enough patience to endure the ticket queues.

The top award, the Golden Bear, went to Patrice Chéreau´s Intimacy, a film that puzzled American critics for its graphic depiction of sex without glamour but was widely acclaimed by most European critics for, ironically enough, the very same reason. The lead actress, Kerry Fox, won the Silver Berlin Bear for the Best Actress and Benicio del Toro took the Best Actor award for his role in Oscar-favored Traffic by Steven Soderbergh. In addition to a wildly popular Fritz Lang tribute and an homage to Kirk Douglas, other surprise hits were the batch of Berlin films (Berlin is in Germany, Berlin Babylon, The Legend of Potsdamer Platz, The Beautiful Day) and the selection chosen by de Handeln, whose contract as festival was terminated early in a stunning and highly contentious move by the festival´s board of directors. Many hope that a new director means a more daring program for 2002, but others fear that a less commercial festival will be a less profitable one and that less Hollywood means less visibility.

Internationale Grüne Woche - International Exhibition for the Food Industry, Agriculture and Horticulture (11th-20th Jan, 2002)
Messedamm , 14055 Berlin - Charlottenburg | U Bhf Kaiserdamm, S Bhf Westkreuz, Witzleben, Eichkamp/Messe, Bus X21, X34, X49, 104, 139, 149, 219 |
If you like to eat and drink and can afford it, "Grüne Woche" (Green Week) could be worth a visit. This international exhibition for food, agriculture and horticulture is one of the main fairs in Berlin and is well attended by the gastronomically experimental Berliner so keen on foreign cuisine (if you know German food you'd understand why). Sample Slovenian slow food before heading through the Syrian woollen living room and past the Dutch tulips towards the European Union olive oil, whilst being welcomed by pretty hostesses along the way. Sadly, the admission price only gets you in the door and you will have to pay for every piece of food that passes your lips. It's not just about eating, though. In the agriculture, forestry and gardening sectors, you can see commercial contributions in annually themed special-interest shows before learning of new technologies, the latest growing methods and the (printable) practical and scientific findings in the fields of livestock husbandry and breeding. See if you can eat after that.

International Tourist Fair - Internationale Tourismus Börse
(16-20 Mar, 2002)
Messedamm 26, 14055 Berlin - Charlottenburg | Tel: 30 38 44 44 , Fax: 30 38 21 13 | U-Bhf Theodor-Heuss-Platz, S-Bhf Westkreuz, Bus X21, X34, X49, 104, 139, 149, 219, Free Shuttle Bus from Tegel Airport. | Dates: 16-20 March, 2002 | Times: 10-18.
Every year in March at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ICC) is the International Tourist Fair. Exhibiters from all areas of the international tourist industry (from national and regional tourist organisations to communication and information systems companies) come together to plug their wares and also do a spot of networking. Although orientated more for those in the business, 1999's event attracted nearly 119,000 visitors, 56,000 being trade visitors. Check the website for details as two out of the five days are for trade visitors only.

May Day Riots
(1 May)

Kottbusser Tor , Berlin - Kreuzberg | U1/8 Kottbusser Tor |
Not a day that the Berlin Riot Police can spend with their families, as everyone with even the smallest grumble hits the streets and blames the authorities for all sorts of mistreatment. An annual event since the first showdown in 1987 (when a supermarket was torched), May 1st is traditionally the workers' day when the man in the street can express his discontentment about any pertinent issues. After the demonstrations shifted towards Prenzlauer Berg after the fall of the Wall, the day's activities have moved back to Kreuzberg, as the inhabitants of the upwardly-mobile eastern bezirk presumably find hypocrisy just as bad as violence. Sadly, excessively physical clashes with the police are now run of the mill and the use of water cannons has become necessary in order to disperse the crowds. The trouble is usually isolated although, in 2001, the police were forced to close the roads into Kreuzberg while they battled the demonstrators. Thankfully, the rest of the city is happy just to celebrate a day off work.

German Open
(6-12 May, 2002)
Gottfried-von-Cramm-Weg 47 - 55, 14193 Berlin - Grunewald | Tel: 89 57 55 20, Fax: 89 57 55 51 | S-Bahn Grunewald | Alternate website: | Date: every May | Prices: From 25, conc. from 10.
May heralds the arrival in Berlin of the Women's Tennis Association Tour. Since 1979 the German women's tour event has been staged in Berlin at the Lawn Tennis Tournier Club "Rot-Weiß" in Grunewald. With over $1 million of prize money up for grabs, this outdoor clay court tournament attracts fifty-six of the biggest names in women's tennis every year to battle it out for the title of German Open Champion. Tennis's links with the middle classes are still as strong as ever with the Wednesday of the tournament being "Mercedes Ladies' Day". Currywurst on a stick, anyone?

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