Walpurgis Night traditions around Europe

Soon after Easter comes the ancient festival of Walpurgis Night. This less-known celebration falls on April 30, exactly six months after Halloween. People light bonfires to scare away witches and evil spirits. To the Vikings, Walpurgis Night marked the date they let their cows and goats onto the summer pastures. And many countries in the area celebrate Labor Day on May 1, complete with parades and, in the past, even riots.

 

What does Walpurgis Night celebrate?

Walpurgis Night was first a pagan festival linked with the coming of spring. In the 17th century, Germans added the belief that witches gather on the Brocken mountain on this date. Walpurgis Night is also the night before International Workers’ Day (a.k.a. May Day). The celebrations of spring tie in perfectly to celebrations of workers’ rights. And so does the drinking! Not so long ago, Berlin was quite a chaotic scene on May Day.

 

Who is Walpurgis Night named for?

Valborg was a nun in the 8th century (her name can also be spelled Walpurgis). She founded a convent in Germany and spoke out against witchcraft. Walpurgis was canonized on May 1, 779. The celebration of her sainthood merged with the spring festival over the years.

 

A Walpurgis Night bonfire in Sweden.

Walpurgis Night bonfire in Sweden. Creative Commons 2.0 photo by acb

 

How do people celebrate Walpurgis Night?

One common tradition is a bonfire. You can see bonfires in Sweden, Finland, Germany and more countries. Another tradition is to make loud noises to scare spirits away, similar to the New Year’s traditions too. The Czech name for Walpurgis Night has to do with burning witches and broomsticks are burned on the bonfires there! Meanwhile in Sweden, the bonfires were lit to protect the Vikings’ livestock, who they let out to graze on summer pastures on May 1.

In Finland, people have picnics and drink homemade mead.

Germans often leave out a piece of bread spread with butter and honey called an Ankenschnitt. This is left outside for the phantom hounds and in order to protect people from bad weather or bad harvests.

 

A train decorated for Walpurgis Night

A train decorated for Walpurgis Night in 1990. Creative Commons 2.0 photo by Sludge G

 

For more information about Walpurgis Night, check out some of these helpful pages: The Weekly Rot and about.com.

Spreepark Berlin: Berlin’s abandoned amusement park

Berlin’s not-so-hidden secret is about to disappear. Spreepark Berlin, the abandoned amusement park, has been bought back by the city. A local has been giving tours for a few years, but after April’s over, the future of the tours and the park is up in the air.

Take a tour of Spreepark Berlin to get a very different experience of Berlin parks than usual.

Spreepark Berlin dinosaur graveyard and abandoned Ferris wheel

Ferris wheel in the background, with the “dinosaur graveyard” in front. Photo by: snostein

The story behind Spreepark Berlin

An amusement park in Berlin? Why would anyone abandon that? Well, that depends who you ask. Spreepark Berlin started its life as the Kulturpark Plänterwald (Cultural Park Plänterwald), which stood from 1969-1989. It was the only amusement park in the GDR and saw up to 1.7 million visitors a year. After German reunification, a family took it over. The city gave them a contract with near-impossible conditions. The forest surrounding the park would be protected land. No parking lots or extra parking spaces were allowed to be built, and German law states that if you don’t have parking spaces, you can’t have signs directing people to the park, either. Then, visitor numbers were limited to 260,000 per year – when they would have needed 400,000 just to break even.

In 2001, Spreepark Berlin declared bankruptcy. The amusement park was closed to visitors and abandoned in 2002.

Spreepark Berlin overgrown roller coaster

Roller coaster tunnel. Photo by anvosa has been cropped from the original.

Spreepark Berlin: The Present and Tours

From 2002 to 2009, Spreepark Berlin was abandoned and nature took its course. Then in 2009, the first tours through the park were offered. People jumped at the chance to see the roller coasters and Ferris wheel gone to seed. Christopher Flade leads the tours and, when there’s extra demand, a second group is led by the daughter of the park’s last owners, Sabrina Witte.

Every once in a while, there has been an event at the park. Last summer there was a concert, and before that there was a techno music festival.

Plus, since 2011, Cafe Mythos has been operating near the park’s front entrance. With beer, soft drinks, sausages ’cause it’s Germany, and soft-serve ice cream ’cause it’s not an amusement park without ice cream – the cafe has everything you need for a lazy afternoon in the sun. The matron of the Witte family is still there serving with a smile. But the winds are a-changing. The city of Berlin bought back the land in March 2014, and after April 2014, it’ll be Berlin’s domain. It doesn’t look like the ruins will hang around.

Go and see it while you still can. Tours go twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays, through April 2014. Here’s a link to book a Spreepark Berlin tour. They’re in German, though, so you’ll either have to understand the language, or not mind! You can’t get into the park otherwise, though. The price of €15 includes a walk that lasts at least two hours (sometimes up to three and a half!) and official permission to take pictures.

Gruene Woche: A taste of the world in Berlin

I know we’ve blogged about Berlin not too long ago. But this topic is right on time. The Gruene Woche is going on through this week and it’s a great event to see. There was a protest staged against it last weekend, and it gets huge press here in Germany.

What is the Gruene Woche?

Gruene Woche translates to Green Week. It’s  an opportunity for the world’s food, farming and gardening industries to show off. The green doesn’t mean eco-friendly, here, just having to do with food, agriculture, or gardening. And it takes place for a week (longer, actually!) A ticket to the Gruene Woche gets you access to hundreds of informative stalls and displays. You can hear local music, taste regional food, buy flower seeds, test an in-home sauna, see organic cooking demonstrations, and go eye-to-eye with prizewinning livestock. And, there’s a whole hall devoted to beer.

Gruene Woche Overlook

The photo’s a bit old, but it still looks much the same. Photo by: _raina_

What happens at the Gruene Woche?

It’s part convention, part massive international market. (Here at germany-travel, we go for the market part!) On the grounds of Berlin’s convention center, exhibitors from literally all around the world flock to the Gruene Woche to show sides of the countries you’ve never seen. Last year I discovered cheese from Romania and reindeer from Norway, while this year I sampled tagine from Morocco and pickles from the next state over in Germany!

Gruene Woche 2013 - Norway

Norway’s setup in 2013. Photo by: Landbruks- og matdepartementet

When’s the best time to visit the Gruene Woche?

In general, weekdays will be less busy than weekends. But I went on a Saturday and survived. If you go on a weekend, the key is to get there as early as you can – the later you go, the more crowded it will be.

Gruene Woche 2013 - Plants

An oasis in the convention center: the plant showcase. Photo by: Anagoria

 

Top Tips for Gruene Woche 2014

  • There’s folk dancing at Greece’s area, and don’t miss the creatively-named olive oil company nearby.
  • Take a tour of Germany without leaving the city. Each state has its own snazzy setup. It’s a great way to discover regional foods and traditional costumes. I recommend Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, try the turkey salami products and the Störtebeker beer!
  • For a natural break, make your way to the plant showcase. The air is fresh, the plants are lovely, and they have water dispensers.
  • Avoid the Austria exhibition if you can. I’m only saying this because one end of the hall narrows and causes a horrible bottleneck. It took us 15 minutes to herd our way out of that 50-f0ot-long human traffic jam.
  • Buy eggs from a vending machine in the organic hall.
  • Or, for the pescatarians, chow down on a fish-based currywurst!

All in all, the Gruene Woche is a fun experience for the whole family and a really interesting way to see a snapshot into other countries you might not have known about before.

Dschinghis Khan and Eurovision

That’s another spelling of the ancient Mongol warrior’s name. But I’m talking about another Dschinghis Khan – the band!

Dschinghis Khan Photo

Photo by: Makakaaaa

Who was Dschinghis Khan?

Well, this Dschinghis Khan was a band formed, like Abba, to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. Abba had a bigger success, but Dschinghis Khan stuck around to produce more songs too. One later song, “Moscow,” topped the charts in Australia for 6 weeks. Their songs popped up in TV shows and movies for years afterwards and in the 2000’s they went back on tour briefly.

 

Why are we talking about Dschinghis Khan, anyhow?

Eurovision is just around the corner. OK, it’s not until May, but the first round of tickets for Eurovision 2014 finals in Copenhagen are sold out, and more are going on sale at the end of January. I really want to go! As an expat transplant, I am more excited about Eurovision than any of the Europeans I know. Eurovision is an annual ode to Euro-dance music. It’s fun to see what kind of  music each country produces every year. Sometimes they mix pop beats with traditional melodies or instruments. Sometimes they sing in their own languages, sometimes in English. My favorites fuse European style with something of their own. Stuff like that makes me jealous of Europe’s huge diversity.

 

Can you listen to Dschinghis Khan without laughing… or cringing?

The song is pretty dated. The disco beat is the first giveaway. The lyrics are not very PC any more. “Dschinghis Khan” is about storming the steppes, stirring up fear, drinking, and don’t forget they praise the guy’s prowess in bed, too. Also, try watching the video from Eurovision. Are their costumes accurate? Is it OK for these guys to imitate another so-called “exotic” culture like that? Why sing about Dschinghis Khan, anyway?

Dschinghis Khan 3

Photo by: Foxtongue

My advice? Try to overlook all that stuff. I admit it’s not sensitive. But the beat! I wasn’t around when disco was new, so this stuff is awesome and funny to me. Crank up the volume on a Dschinghis Khan video and shout. “Hah! Hoo! Hah!”

Dschinghis Khan Albums

Photo by: Rochus Wolff

 

What is your all-time favorite Eurovision song?

Berlin Christmas Markets: ‘Tis the Season!

Berlin Christmas Markets at Potsdamer Platz

Photo by: onnola

Yesterday was the first of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Here in Germany the start of Advent is a big deal. It means the festive season can really start – and the doors of more than 60 Berlin Christmas markets open in earnest. Whether you’re shopping for unique holiday gifts or just want to enjoy a glass of mulled wine, you can find it at one of the dozens of Berlin Christmas markets. As the days get shorter, tourists and locals alike flock to Berlin Christmas markets to enjoy a warming glass of mulled wine and special winter treats: candied nuts, gingerbread, and lots of Wurst! No two Berlin Christmas markets are alike. Read on for some ideas on how to make the most of the Berlin Christmas markets, whether you’re here for a weekend or the whole season.

Berlin Christmas markets are something special.

From arcades and thrill rides to Scandinavian charm to outdoor skating rinks, Berlin Christmas markets are incredibly diverse. And if one of them doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s bound to be another one within just a few subway stops. The nights are long and many Berlin Christmas markets are open from early afternoon until 10 PM. When the sun sets early, the best cure for darkness-induced blues is the sparkle of Berlin Christmas markets, the sugar rush of sweet treats, and the buzz of the festive atmosphere.

Surviving Berlin Christmas markets – Tips for your wallet and your waistline

The biggest shock for many visitors to Berlin Christmas markets (or Christmas markets anywhere in Germany) is the concept of Pfand. It’s a deposit for the charming mugs they serve mulled wine in – anything from 50 cents to a few euros. It’s not included in the price of the wine, but it’s always written somewhere. If you give your mug back, you get your money back – but for the price of the Pfand, you can also bring the mug home as a keepsake. It makes a lovely gift, too, if you don’t have room for German beer steins in your suitcase! You can scout out the Berlin Christmas markets to find your favorites. Some Berlin Christmas markets have mugs with pictures of nearby landmarks (like the TV tower at Alexanderplatz), or write out the location and sometimes the year (which you can find on the mugs at Gendarmenmarkt).

Like in any market situation, I suggest making your way around the market square first and having a look at all the options. There’s a huge selection of food and drinks at all of the Berlin Christmas markets, and with so many standard Christmas market offerings there are always a few repeats. It’s all too easy to be caught up by the first stalls, then see a tastier-looking option just a few meters away.

Berlin Christmas markets are a hotspot for pickpockets. Keep your valuables close and safe! Stay alert and follow the precautions you’d take in any bustling urban space. Zip your bags and pockets, keep camera straps around your wrist or neck, and so on.

This is wintertime, and the food is rich. You won’t find many healthy options at Berlin Christmas markets. Carnivores can feast on dozens of sausages, while dairy lovers will have their fill of cheese from vendor stalls or raclette to go, smeared on slices of dark bread. The classic meat-free option is a crispy potato pancake slathered with applesauce, but a big bowl of sauteed mushrooms with garlic sauce is also delicious and easy to find at any of the Berlin Christmas markets. Keep your hands warm with a hot drink: apart from mulled wine, the more adventurous can try mulled beer or mulled apple wine with cinnamon. Cookies, waffles, candied almonds and roasted chestnuts are par for the course, and there are always plenty of samples to taste. Load up on your healthy foods during the day, then eat your heart out at the Christmas market!

The best Berlin Christmas markets

So, now you’re ready to experience Berlin Christmas markets for yourself. But with so many to choose from, where do you start? Here are a few special Berlin Christmas markets to get you inspired.

The Lucia market in Prenzlauer Berg’s Kulturbrauerei specializes in Scandinavian and Nordic specialties. Stroll around the candlelit square for a charming atmosphere with Scandinavian music playing and vendors offering Finnish honey, Swedish elk bratwurst, and a dozen variations on mulled wine, glogg, apple cider, mulled beer, or hot chocolate. Of all the Berlin Christmas markets around, it’s particularly intimate and special.

The WeihnachtsZauber market at Gendarmenmarkt is a perfect example of how Berlin Christmas markets should be – offering dozens of vendor stalls, a stage hosting neverending performances, classic Christmas music on the speakers… and with such a perfect atmosphere, it’s packed elbow-to-elbow with other eager visitors. Sandwiched between the French and German Cathedrals and charging a 1-euro entrance fee, the Gendarmenmarkt market also stands out for its upscale offerings: sit-down restaurants, a heated tent of artisan vendors, and costumed performers interacting with the crowd. Be sure to visit the Fassbender & Rausch chocolate shop-cum-cafe nearby to see some of Berlin’s most famous landmarks erected in solid chocolate.

Berlin Christmas Markets at Gendarmenmarkt Weihnachtszauber

Photo by: Gertrud K.

Finally, the be-all and end-all of Berlin Christmas markets – well, it’s a tie between Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz. Alexanderplatz’s market is larger. Along with every sort of vendor you could imagine, it’s home to a carousel, thrill rides and arcade games, an outdoor skating rink, a snow-producing Christmas pyramid, and the huge Alexa shopping mall nearby. Get in a bit of sightseeing by checking out the TV tower while you’re there. Meanwhile the Potsdamer Platz market opens its gates in late November and boasts a massive onsite snow-tubing hill. After a mug of mulled wine, you could catch a movie in English or German at the Cinestar theater nearby.

Berlin Christmas markets at Alexanderplatz

Photo by: Charlott_L

That’s all you need to know to get started in the Berlin Christmas markets. Which are your favorites?

Oktoberfest Munich 2013: Dates & little bit of history

Photo by: Stefano

German or no, everyone seems to have their own idea of what Oktoberfest is.  For arguably the vast majority of non-Germans  Oktoberfest usually conjures visions of beer steins, lederhosen and yards of delicious pretzels and wursts of all kinds.  Oktoberfest traditionally takes place in the last weeks of September, through to the beginning of October, and is one of Germany’s (not to mention Munich’s) longest running and most famous events.  However, as Oktoberfest Munich is visited by an estimated 6 million people annually, the event can be a bit overwhelming, but that’s what we at Germany-travel are here for.  For your convenience, here are the Oktoberfest Munich 2013 dates, highlights (and just a little bit of history) to guide you through this Bavarian festival.

Oktoberfest Munich 2013 Dates

This year the original Oktoberfest in Munich begins on September 21st, with events every day until October 6th.  Festivities begin daily between 9:00 a.m. & 12:00 p.m., and last well into the evening.  While entry to the fair grounds, and each of the 14 beer tents is completely free, competition is high.  The 100.000 seats available in the beer tents are usually filled to capacity early in the day.  To avoid disappointment we recommend either booking your tickets for Oktoberfest Munich 2013 in advance, or preparing to queue at the fair grounds well before the gates open, especially on the extremely high traffic days at the weekend (8:00 a.m. or even earlier). Recommendations on planning your arrival to the festival, as well as a full list of Oktoberfest Munich 2013 dates and opening times can be found, in English, at the official Oktoberfest website.

What Not to Miss at Oktoberfest Munich 2013 

Oktoberfest Munich is a long standing German tradition, and with this there are some traditions and ceremonies that are not to be missed.  The opening parade is the traditional beginning to the Oktoberfest festivities, and will officially start Oktoberfest Munich 2013 at 11:00 a.m. on September 21st.  This celebration will feature traditional beer carts, beautifully decorated floats and live bands.

The parade leads to the festival grounds, usually in time for the tapping of the first keg of beer, which happens precisely at noon on the first day of the festival.  This year this ceremonial tapping will be done by the mayor of Munich, and will be followed by a 12 gun salute, that signals the beginning of Oktoberfest and is followed directly by each of the beer tents tapping their first kegs.

After you’ve seen the parade and the official tapping of the first keg, we also recommend you stick around for the famous open-air concert.  If the weather is good, this concert takes place outside at the base of the Bavaria statue, and features live performances from the brass bands that will be performing throughout the week at the fair grounds.

And if you get tired of all the beer, the grounds also provide excellent (non alcoholic) entertainment for the whole family during the day.  Every year Oktoberfest is filled with different carnival style rides and sweet treats to be enjoyed by everyone.  A list of events and activities can be found (again in English) at the official Oktoberfest website.

A Brief History of Oktoberfest Munich

As you trample the festival with the nearly 10.000 other Oktoberfest Munich visitors, don’t forget to consider the over 200 years that this tradition has taken place.  Oktoberfest was created in 1810 by Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen with the city of Munich.

The entire city was invited by the royal family to join the celebrations outside the city gates, in the field that is now called Theresienwiese, or ‘Therese’s meadow’ in honor of the princess (you may also hear Theresienwiese referred to as simply the Wies’n).  The festival has survived two world wars, and in it’s over 200 year history, has only been canceled 24 times (due either to war, or cholera epidemics).  The famous Bavaria statue, which watches over the Wies’n, was only erected in 1850, and has been overseen by five different Bavarian kings.

This festival, founded in love and celebration, has come a long way since 1810, but still remains an outstanding celebration of Bavarian and German history.  This celebration has even incorporated some of the best parts of the 21st century into its yearly repertoire, as you can now watch Oktoberfest Munich live via web-cam.  So even if you can’t make it to Bavaria in person, you can still raise a mug, and say prost as you enjoy Oktoberfest Munich 2013!

Oktoberfest Hannover

Oktoberfest Hannover

Photo by: Patrick Heina

Is Oktoberfest Munich getting too mainstream for you? Then head to Oktoberfest Hannover this year.

One can’t think of Germany without associating it with beer, and along with the many festivities that celebrate the mighty fine drink.  Oktoberfest is probably the first to come to mind, and undoubtedly so: a festival that runs for sixteen days is a respectable homage to any beverage.  Oktoberfest hails from Munich, where it was first celebrated, and merrymakers flood the city in millions, year after year, to partake in the jubilant atmosphere and experience a piece of German culture.

The good news is, you don’t have to come only to Munich to have a taste of Oktoberfest. In cities worldwide, Oktoberfest celebrations commence right around the time festivities are abuzz in Munich, from the last week of September to the first weekend of October. And in Germany, there’s another Oktoberfest celebration that most people may not have heard of, but is one that is definitely worth a try:  Oktoberfest Hannover.

Despite existing in the shadows of its Bavarian counterpart, Oktoberfest Hannover is still the third largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world, attracting more than a million guests per year. While considerably smaller than Munich, it still boasts 160 rides and inns, two large beer tents that seat more than a thousand people each, and a plethora of other vendors.

This year, Oktoberfest Hannover is back at the Schützenplatz from September 27 to October 13, according to its recently updated website. Doors are open everyday, from 2pm ’til 11pm to 12:00am (or 1:00am, if you’re in a tent), so there’s plenty of time to soak it all in. Every Friday at 9:45, there will also be fireworks to sparkle your night.

Getting to Hannover is also not an issue, as it is served by major bus lines and the Deutsche Bahn. Will you be in Germany? Then Oktoberfest is a must-see in Germany and one of the best things to do in Hannover. There are still plenty of details to come as Oktoberfest Hannover nears, so bookmark their site, and make sure to get your tickets early!

Hamburg Dungeon

 Hamburg Dungeon
Photo by: Rosscophoto

Hamburg is a German city with an interesting history to boot. There are many things to do in Hamburg, but to get a glimpse of its history, visitors have a number of options: they can go visit the aptly-named Museum of Hamburg History, or the Emigration Museum Ballinstadt. Then there’s the Hamburg Dungeon. Some label it as a torture museum, others a history lesson, but with such a name, you can leave much to the imagination. Labelling itself as “better than a sightseeing tour of Hamburg” while guaranteeing a “scarily fun time”, the Hamburg Dungeon offers guests a 90-minute journey through Hamburg’s darkest history. And it won’t be pretty, as visitors get to “meet” the gruesome characters of Hamburg’s past.

The tour occurs in both English and German, and includes 11 live shows with live actors, 2 rides and more. The Hamburg Dungeon skips the boring bits of Hamburg’s history with the actors’ gripping storytelling, exciting rides and state-of-the-art special effects.

A warning comes with joining a tour of the Hamburg Dungeon. On its website, it states that children younger than 10, those with a heart condition or guests of a nervous disposition should look elsewhere. Otherwise, they welcome everyone else and highly recommend to book in advance.

This year also marks its 13th anniversary, and promises to have more surprises for its visitors every 13th of the month. To begin, the Hamburg Dungeon will offer reduced prices every 13th of month, with tickets at  €13 instead of €23. This year will also see two ‘Friday the 13ths, one in September and another in December, and their crew is still busy planning an “unforgettable” event for its visitors on these dates.

The Hamburg Dungeon is a must-see if you want to have a thrilling and fun cruise through Hamburg’s history. While the entrance fee may be steep for some, take advantage of their discounts this year, and plan a visit on Friday the 13th if you can!

Kunstsammlung NRW // Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans Kunstsammlung NRW
Photo by: Steve Rogers Photography, Austin, TX

Art enthusiasts who are in (or will be visiting) Dusseldorf can indulge at Kunstsammlung NRW (short for Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), the museum that houses the art collection of  North Rhine-Westphalia. Founded in 1961 by its government, Kunstsammlung NRW has since gained an international reputation with its impressive modern art collection. Kunstsammlung NRW is especially known for its extensive Paul Klee collection, which has grown to include 100 of the artist’s works and is considered one of the world’s most comprehensive collections. But it certainly isn’t just all about Paul Klee: with works from art’s greatest like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol,  spanning movements from Pop Art to American Art to Abstract Expressionism just to name a few, Kunstsammlung NRW is a must-visit for any modern art enthusiast traveling in Germany.

Kunstsammlung NRW is also a spacious and lively center for exhibits, attracting prominent and upcoming artists alike.  Wolfgang Tillmans, one of Germany’s most important contemporary artists, is currently on exhibit for the first time in Western Germany at the Kunstsammlung NRW.  From March to July this year, visitors can check out Wolfgang Tillmans’ various works – photographs, abstact paintings, videos – and discover the versatile and multifaceted talent of the photographer.

His evolution over the years shows how masterful Wolfgang Tillmans is in his craft. Starting out as a chronicler of the nightlife scene in European cities like Berlin and London, Tillmans soon experimented with other themes like homosexuality and gender issues, and also other photographic subjects like portraits, still lifes, sky photographs, astronomical observations and landscape images. In the early 200s, he became increasingly interested in the chemical principles and spatial possibilities of the photographic material, resulting in the creation of his more “abstract” work.  He only started dabbling with digital photography in the late 2000s.

Now in Kunstsammlung NRW, Wolfgang Tillmans’ works are no newcomer to major solo museum exhibitions: his works have been shown in renowned museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC (pictured above), and most recently at the National Gallery in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.  And his diverse, extensive skills have been aptly recognized: he is the only non-UK native photographer to be awarded the prestigious Turner Prize, which he received in 2000. He also received the Cultural Award in Mannheim of the German Society of Photography in 2009-

Only one of the many things to do in Dusseldorf, the exhibition Wolfgang Tillmans is on display at the Kunstsammlung NRW from March 2nd to July 7th in the K21 section. More information can be found here.

Holi Open Air Berlin

Berlin Holi Open Air

Photo by: James Dennes

Out of the many things to do in Berlin, no one would ever think to find a piece of Indian culture in a German Olympic stadium. But this year, on April 27 and 28, one will find exactly that.  The organizers of Holi Open Air Berlin are bringing the installation of the Indian festival from Friedrichshain to Charlottenburg, to the Reit Stadium in Berlin’s historic Olympic Park. With more space and a more diverse topography (those small hills can come strategic), party goers can relive last year’s crazy celebration.

Holi Open Air Berlin admittedly loses the tradition and religion behind the Indian festival, as it instead transforms it into a colorful party. But for those who can’t experience the real thing,  it is quite a worthy substitute. Premiered last year and surrounded by much hype, Holi Open Air Berlin proved to be a success: tickets were sold out in Berlin, as hundreds of merrymakers headed to Ostbanhof to throw paint bombs in the air, at friend’s faces, themselves – anything goes. Given this reception, it’s not surprising that it’s back, bigger than before, and a tiny bit more expensive. This year, the cheapest pass is 17€ (without fees) and you can find more information about tickets here.

Surely, there are lots of things to do in Berlin, but if you happen to be in the city on April 27 and 28, I highly recommend that you buy a ticket. White clothes are required, so buy a shirt while you’re at it!

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