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Friday, November 6th, 2015

The cultural scene in Berlin

With the arrival of the autumn and winter months, comes the time for festivities in Berlin, with the capital hosting a plethora of festivals, concerts and exhibitions.

The Brandenburg Gate illuminated during the 'Festival of Lights'

When the nights grow darker and the trees begin to lose their leaves, the cultural scene in the German capital explodes with some fantastic events. For example, the ‘Festival of Lights’, in a very literal sense, has lit up Berlin for ten years now during this particularly darker period. Taking place throughout October from the 9th till the 18th, the festival is the perfect opportunity to see some of the city’s iconic monuments in a new light, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Tempodrom, Berlin Cathedral, the Berlin TV Tower, and the Oberbaum Bridge. To fully enjoy this spectacle, an ideal choice would be to take a city tour which offers plenty of stop-off points for photographs and is available in numerous ways, whether it be via bus, Trabant, a horse-drawn carriage, boat or rickshaw.

Silver jubilee of the German unification

On October 3rd 2015, Berlin celebrated the Day of German Unity. This special anniversary was celebrated in several ways that are suitable for all the family, including a traditional street party at Brandenburg Gate, exclusive tours for kids, as well as an exhibition at the German Historical Museum, entitled “Alltag Einheit – Porträt einer Übergangsgesellschaft” (United Day-to-Day – a portrait of a society in transition), which runs until the 3rd January 2016 and examines how citizens from both East and West Germany have experienced this unification process. Additionally, a large museum festival was held on the 3rd and 4th of October, which consisted of numerous lectures and discussion groups. Another highlight is the Berlin Wall Memorial, where you can gain a better idea of what the city was like when divided.

Art festivals involving music and dance

Amongst other things, the ID Festival, which was inaugurated by pianist and composer Ohad Ben-Ari, has for 50 years now fostered the relationship between Germans and Israelis. From the 16th October to the 18th, Radialsystem, a famous art venue, showcased one hundred performances, ranging from dance to theatre to music. Moreover, the festival also included art and video installations.

For over 50 years, the JazzFest Berlin has consistently been rooted into the city’s cultural scene, and from the 5th to 8th November, will examine the current role of jazz in today’s society and the future of the genre. At the festival, both progressive and traditional forms of jazz will be played side by side at several venues, including the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Academy of the Arts and in notable Berlin jazz clubs, Quasimodo and A-Trane. On 10th October, the city was particularly bustling thanks to the “Lange Nacht der Familien” (Long Night of Families), which included varying activities including twist bread roasting over bonfires, and discussions on children’s theatre.

Notable concerts with acts such as Madonna and Heino

This season in Berlin is set to celebrate lots of musical anniversaries with a grand mix of genres, with Heino, one of Germany’s most successful artists of all time, having already celebrated on October 23rd 50 years of German pop music at Huxley’s Neue Welt. On November 27th, legendary English rock band Motörhead, whose career spans a total of 40 years, will be serving up a live performance at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, with additional promotion of their new album. American singer Madonna, undoubtedly one of the biggest names in pop music, shall also be performing in Berlin, on the 11th November at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena (formerly known as the O2-World). This arena also recently played host to Irish rock band U2 for four nights at the end of September.

Museums in Berlin

Taking a quieter turn, but still just as exciting, Berlin offers up a number of museums for you to enjoy. At the Martin-Gropius-Bau, an exhibition entitled “Von Hockney bis Holbein. Die Sammlung Würth in Berlin” (From Hockney to Holbein. The Würth Collection in Berlin) has been held since the 11th September, and will run up until 10th January 2016. This exhibition features a massive collection of 16,800 works, ranging from those dating back to the classical modern period, the Middle Ages and then up to more contemporary pieces. 400 pieces of this collection are currently on display in the Kunstgewerbesmuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts). Back in the Martin-Gropius-Bau, a retrospective of the works of Germaine Krull (1897-1985) has been held from the 15th October. The work of this society photographer, who became famous worldwide thanks to her photo coverage of Paris’ homeless community as well as her work as a photojournalist in Indochina, is just as interesting.

Born and bred in Berlin

An exhibition entitled “Max Beckmann and Berlin” will be showcased from the 20th November in the recently refurbished Berlinische Galerie, which traditionally hosts works from artists exclusively from Berlin, and is sure to attract numerous amounts of visitors. Max Beckmann, a painter and sculptor, has, in his works presented in this exhibition, focused on the style of Expressionism and New Objectivity. This exhibition will examine the artist’s career and his relationship in particular to the capital city. In addition, the Berlinische Galerie has also included, since mid-September, the “The Dialogic City. Berlin wird Berlin” (The Dialogic City: Berlin becomes Berlin) installation which centres on the theme of “Museum” and stands at 10m high and 40m long, designed and built by the architects Arno Brandlhuber, Florian Hertweck and Thomas Mayfried.

A large visitor from a time gone by

With 50,000 people a year moving to the German capital, Berlin is very much accustomed to welcoming new visitors and tourists. In July, one very particular kind of visitor arrived at the Museum of Natural History in the form of crates containing of bones. “Tristan”, a twelve-meter long skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, is currently being carefully put together by a group of experts and should be available for the general public to view from December this year. Being the only one of its species within Europe, it is one of the best kept in the world and provides another reason as to why Berlin is one of the places to be this coming winter.

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