Best Berlin Festivals
48 Stunden Neukölln. For two days in June, the working-class neighborhood of Neukölln, now home to boutiques and hip hangouts, celebrates the district’s diversity and artsy-ness. An old brewery may host a concert, or an avant-garde opera performance may take over an art nouveau swimming pool; some venues are as intimate as someone’s living room. From a modest block party in 1999, this homespun festival has evolved into a major cultural happening that the city’s creative class looks forward to every year. Neukölln, Berlin, Berlin. www.48-stunden-neukoelln.de.
Berlinale: International Film Festival. February is synonymous with international cinema in Berlin. Unlike the other red-carpet festivals around the world, all the showings in this 10-day celebration are open to the public, making the Berlinale the largest public movie festival in the world. Queue up for premieres of international films, or just party with an estimated 20,000 film professionals who brave the cold Berlin winter yearly. Berlin. www.berlinale.de.
Christmas Markets. Berlin is home to more than 60 Christmas markets, from the traditional kitsch fest to hipster flea markets full of handmade goodies. Most are open from late November to the end of December. The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is a classic cuckoo-clocks-and-wursts affair, with the opulent architecture of the square providing a Teutonic ambience. The Alt-Rixdorfer Christmas Market takes place every year on the historic Richardplatz in Neukölln during the second Advent weekend; it's a charming alternative to the more central and well-known markets. Berlin.
Gay Pride Berlin. Originally a political rally commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots, this flamboyant parade has become one of the city's most popular street parties. The annual June celebration draws crowds from around the world, and culminates in a large open-air dance party at the Victory Column. Berlin. www.csd-berlin.de.
International Berlin Beer Festival. One August weekend each year, the socialist-style "workers’ paradise" apartments of Karl-Marx-Allee provide the backdrop for Berlin’s largest suds-themed party. Visitors sample 2,000 types of beer from around the world, including ales handcrafted by independent German brewers. Berlin. www.bierfestival-berlin.de.
Karneval der Kulturen. A celebration of Berlin’s diversity, this multicultural street festival takes over bohemian Kreuzberg every Pentecost weekend (usually in May or June). From traditional ethnic arts to cutting-edge contemporary dance, the festival is a microcosm of present-day Berlin culture. The weekend peaks with a parade of musicians, dancers, and other performers showing off their skills to an enthusiastic crowd. Berlin. www.karneval-berlin.de.
Lange Nacht der Museen. Taking place once in the spring and once in the fall, the Long Night of Museums is exactly what the name suggests: Almost 100 museums open their doors to the public from 6 pm to 2 am with exhibitions, guided tours, and special programs. Browsing classical art late at night while a DJ spins ambient music is a quintessential Berlin experience. Berlin. www.lange-nacht-der-museen.de.
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