Berlin Cultural Calendar

Cultural activities and festivals in Berlin are as varied as the weather here. From cosy indoor film festivals in winter that help you escape the dreaded Berlin frost to Indian colour festivals celebrating the summer and the almost mediterranean atmosphere of the city when the sun is out, there's something for everyone. Here's a list of Berlin festivals, all year round.

January/February

Lange Nacht der Museen. Twice a year, around 100 of Berlin's museums, collections, archives and exhibition halls stay open into the early hours with special events, concerts, readings, lectures and performances for the 'Long Night of the Museums'. A ticket gets you free travel on special shuttle buses and regular public transport.

Now approaching its 60th year, the Berlinale is one of the world's major cinema festivals, featuring over 300 movies from all five continents. It is centred at the Potsdamer Platz cinemas and attended by international stars, providing this normally glamour-proof city with a bit of glitz in the dead of winter. Runs at the beginning of February.

March/April

Maerzmusik (March music) is a holdover from the more culture-conscious days of the old East Germany, this annual contemporary music festival invites international avant-garde composers and musicians to present new works, performed at various locations across town.

Film Polska in April is the largest celebration of Polish films in Germany, and runs since 2006. It provides an overview of new releases and also screens classic Polish movies, often as part of a retrospective of famous polish directors, cinematographers and screenwriter.

May/June

The Holi Festival Berlin is a commercial spin-off of the traditional Indian colour festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. This 2-day festival turns the equestrian stadium near the Olympic stadium into a wild theatre of colours. 

Karneval der Kulturen. Inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival and intended as a celebration of Berlin's ethnic and cultural diversity, the long and popular weekend (always Pentecost) centres on a 'multi-kulti' parade involving dozens of floats, hundreds of musicians and thousands of spectators. Kreuzberg residents line the street and sell home-made food and drinks from their homes as well. The route changes every year, see the website for details.

The German-Russian Festival is a celebration of the cultural exchange between the two nations, annually held in June at the harness racing track in Berlin-Karlshorst. It features Russian music, theatre, a culture tent with readings and many foodstalls allow you to sample Russian food and drink.

July/August

Classic Open Air at Gendarmenmarkt. In 1992 the Classic Open Air started with a concert of tenor José Carreras. Since then, every summer the Gendarmenmarkt in the heart of Berlin right on the museum island turns into a great concert arena.

The Days of Jewish Culture in August are an annual ten-day festival organized by the Jewish Community of Berlin. It presents the diversity of Jewish Culture in Germany today, often with a focus on cultural exchange with other cities with Jewish history and culture like Vienna or Amsterdam.

September/October

The Berlin Festival in early September is the biggest music event in the city. Held at the former Tempelhof airfield, it runs for two days and features a variety of pop, electronic and rock artists from all over the world. This year's headliner is Bjork.

Day of German Unity. The Day of German Unity is the legal national holiday and celebrates the German reunification in 1990. In Berlin, the day is celebrated with a festival around Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, with live music, food stalls and fireworks.

November/December

Berlin Music Days. The Berlin Music Days (BerMuDa) is an electronic music festival, established in 2009. Since then every year in early November the electronic music scene comes to Berlin to celebrate its clubs and their culture, with events and sets running over days and long into the night.

Berlin Christmas Markets. Traditional German Christmas markets spring up across Berlin during the Christmas season, offering toys, mulled wine and gingerbread.
 

The plentitude and variety of events Berlin offers all year round is one of the reasons why you should visit it anytime you like. Book a Berlin hotel and join one of the festivals!