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When strolling the streets of Berlin, it’s easy to stumble upon impromptu musical performances, pop-up galleries and even venues offering free dance lessons to passersby. Serendipitous moments seem to sprout up everywhere in the German capital — in fact, tourist office VisitBerlin estimates that more than 1,500 events take place each day.
This year promises an incredible events calendar of festivals celebrating cuisine, culture, art, science and German folklore. What follows are some of the top festivals and events taking place this spring and fall.
Eat! Berlin in February and MarchGourmands and gourmets will not go hungry from Feb. 21 to March 1. During the annual culinary festival Eat! Berlin, the city’s top chefs, some decorated with Michelin stars, will prepare grand, over-the-top meals at select restaurants and unique locations. Dinners are often accompanied with entertainment, literature and film. The festival also hosts workshops; cooking and baking classes; and seminars on everyone’s favorite pairing of wine and cheese.
Night of the Witches in AprilIn German folklore, the last night of April is known as “Walpurgisnacht” (Walpurgis Night), when witches meet on Northern Germany’s Brocken Mountain to await the coming of spring. The ancient custom of chasing away “evil, cold-weather spirits of winter” is the inspiration for the Night of the Witches event, held at the hip Kulturbrauerei complex on April 30.
Kulturbrauerei — a former brewery that has been turned into a retail and entertainment complex — has one of the city’s largest and most dramatic bonfires planned for the evening. Revelers can also expect acrobatic performances and all-night dance parties featuring live bands and 20 DJs.
Carnival of Cultures in MaySome 1 million attendees are expected at the annual Carnival of Cultures festival from May 22-25. The festival celebrates Berlin’s cultural and ethnic diversity with a spectacular parade featuring about 4,700 dancers, singers and musicians hailing from approximately 80 nations and has become one of Berlin’s most popular annual events. The parade takes place in the Kreuzberg district on May 24 and is accompanied by a street festival featuring performances, concerts and food from around the world.
Open Air Gallery in June and JulyMore than 100 new and established artists will take over the picturesque Oberbaum Bridge, which spans the Spree River, to present their work under the summer sky. Open Air Gallery showcases paintings, photography and sculptures. The event, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors in 2014, takes place on June 7 and about one month later, on July 6. Admission is free.
Long Night of the Sciences in JuneFans of the “Night of the Museum” can live out their fantasies during the 15th annual Long Night of the Sciences. During this educational event, lectures, guided tours, scientific experiments and cultural programs will be held in numerous institutions, archives and laboratories that are usually off-limits to the public. Almost 21,000 visitors took part in the Long Night of the Sciences in 2014, and more are expected to join in this year’s evening of after-hours fun. Exact locations and programming are still to be determined, but curious clients can block out their calendars from 5 p.m. to midnight on June 13.
Gay Festivals in JuneThere is perhaps no better month to be gay in Berlin than in June, when two of the city’s biggest LGBT events take place. From June 20-21, the Schoeneberg district will welcome some 50,000 visitors for parties, performances, festive food, informative booths and market stalls. Berlin’s Lesbian and Gay City Festival bills itself as the largest street festival of its kind.
On June 27, glitzy costumes, fantastic wigs and brightly painted faces will mark the 37th anniversary of Berlin’s Christopher Street Day. LGBT residents and visitors alike can expect to see more than 50 floats and party with half a million of their closest friends in the streets between Kurfurstendamm and the Brandenburg Gate.