Category Archives: Events & Festivals

The International Berlin Beer Festival – Craft Beer on the Biermeile

The crowd at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

It’s International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) time in Berlin so this weekend is the perfect time to expand your drinking horizons whilst you catch some sun.

Karl-Marx-Allee during the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Now in it’s 18th year, the festival takes over the 2.2km stretch of Karl-Marx-Allee from Strausberger Platz to Frankfurter Tor (the Biermeile) and 240 breweries from 87 countries are serving 2,400 different beers.

A Mobile Brewery at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) Craft Beer Sign at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) Englische Biere (English Beers) stand at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

The motto of the 2014 event is “craft-brewed beer specials”.  Craft beer is a real buzzword at the moment and there is a huge appetite in Berlin for beers that depart from the German tradition and the strict laws of the Rheinheitsgebot.

Störtebecker Strandkorb (Beach Basket) at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Beer Contraption at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Buildings on Karl-Marx-Allee during the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) If you would like to sample a lot of different beers I would suggest that you buy a glass – €3.50 at one of the Information stalls.  A 0.2l refill at any of the beer stands will then cost you €2 and you don’t need to queue to get your Pfand (deposit) back.

Sunset at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

Beer fans should download Untappd to keep track of the beers they taste – the app allows you to rate and comment on the beer you drink, with the option to add photos to your ‘untaps’ and the usual social features.  If you’re on Untappd you can find me – andberlin.

Brauerei Zwönitzer India Pale Ale at the International Berlin Beer Festival (Internationales Berliner Bierfestival)

My beer recommendations? My favourite beer of the evening was the India Pale Ale from Brauerei Zwönitz – their stall is towards the Frankfurter Tor end of the Biermeile.  For fans of Weissbier, a friend told me (enthusiastically and repeatedly) that the Weisse from Hofbräuhaus Traunstein is the best in the world – you can find it at U-Bahnhof Strausberger Platz.

The eighteenth International Berlin Beer Festival (18. Internationales Berliner Bierfestival) is on from 1 to 3 August 2014.

Olympus OM-D Photography Playground Berlin 2014

3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground has made a welcome return to the Opernwerkstätten in Berlin.

Now in its second year the Photography Playground consists of a series of 9 installations from international artists that are intended to be both visually striking and interactive.

Epiphyte Membrane by Philip Beesley at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Transforma installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

AlexandLiane installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

My favourite installations were those that I thought encouraged the highest level of involvement from the visitors.

My first encounter with the work of Argentine artist Leandro Erlich was a write-up in the Evening Standard on his work in Dalston commissioned by the Barbican.

His work, Berlin Façade, is ideally suited to the Photography Playground and visitors were thrilled with the chance to seemingly defy gravity.

Close Up of Berlin Facade by Leandro Erlich at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

Berlin Facade by Leandro Erlich at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

The most fascinating work for me though was 3Destruct by ANTIVJ, an art collective comprised of Yannick Jacquet, Jeremie Peeters and Thomas Vaquié.

The installation uses strobe lighting to create an environment that is constantly changing.

3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

A visitor poses in 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Bright Light of 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Surreal in 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Integral to the Photography Playground concept is the availability of cameras from the Olympus OM-D range for visitors to record their experiences.  The cameras have been moved to the ground floor in front of the entrance making this option much more obvious to the casual visitor.

The cameras are loaned out free of charge but those visitors who do not carry a National Identity card will need to hand over their Passport.  The memory card is yours to take away when you hand the camera back.

Last year, I didn’t have the proper identification so I missed out on the opportunity to try out a camera so this year I was determined to give it a go.

Along with details of the artists and a short explanation of the work there are suggested settings for the Olympus camera in front of each of the installations.

I got to walk around with an EM-10 and was impressed with the camera and the photos I was able to produce in the short time I had it.

Olympus OM-D EM-10

Olympus OM-D EM-10

Love for Transforma at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

Installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

AlexandLiane at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

I would be keen to try out the camera again and would particularly like to explore its WIFI capability, as this could be a great everyday camera for Intstagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground Berlin is open daily 11:00 to 19:00 and entrance is free.  You can find more details at the Photography Playground website.

Berlin: Giant Bear Pole Dances Around Fernsehturm

Berlin Tanzt - Photo from YouTube video from Tanzbüro Berlin

Photo: Still from YouTube video by Tanzbüro Berlin

Let’s be honest, a dancing bear is bound to get your attention.  If you’ve been in Berlin over the last month or so you will have noticed the posters for Berlin Tanzt with a bear captured mid-leap in many of the U-Bahn stations.

But when that bear appears in a video and is as tall as the Kugel of the Fernsehturm and uses it to do a pole dance you’re hooked, right?

Well check out this genius advert for Berlin Tanzt from Tanzbüro Berlin on YouTube then:

tanzcard präsentiert: BERLIN TANZT. Auf 22 Bühnen.

Berlin Tanzt is a dance festival performing on 22 stages across Berlin from 29 January to 28 February 2014.  For more details check out the Tanzraum Berlin website.

Nit de San Joan in Palma de Mallorca – Drummers, Firewalkers and Fireworks

Nit de San Joan in Palma de Mallorca

If, like thousands of Germans, you decide to take your summer holidays in Mallorca (Majorca to the English) and happen to be there for Midsummer I would highly recommend the Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) celebrations in Palma de Mallorca.

I was visiting friends in Can Pastilla when the event took place this year and this was one of my highlights of my holiday.

Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) is a celebration of the summer solstice and particularly significant in Catalonian areas. Also known as Nit del Foc (Night of Fire), in Palma de Mallorca revellers gathered near the cathedral, La Seu, where ‘demons’ sent showers of sparks into the crowds.

If, like me, you want to get up close and personal with the action I would recommend wearing a long sleeved cotton top – the sparks sting a bit when they hit you.

If you can’t wait a year for the next Nit de San Joan celebration here’s a short video of my experience.

Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) in Palma de Mallorca

Berlin Summer Rave 2013

Neon at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Last night I went to my first Berlin Summer Rave at the disused Tempelhof Airport – a great location despite the distinctly un-summer-y weather.

I went with Summer Rave veterans Steffi, Bine and Olli and after a few short queues in the Berlin rain we could feel the bass even before we entered the building.

After a quick look around we made our way to the Planet Bass Hangar to see Lady Waks followed by Westbam.

Lights at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Dancer at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Taking Photos at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Westbam as GIF (with a hard G)

http://picasion.com/i/1TFBQ/

And if you’re wondering what it all sounded like here’s a little taster of the Lady Waks set.

Lady Waks at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Olympus OM-D Photography Playground at the Opernwerkstätten Berlin

Jeongmoon Choi – Drawing in Space at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

An interactive exhibition is ideally suited to Berlin, a city overflowing with creative people, and that is what Olympus has created with the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground, which opened at the Opernwerkstätten last night.

The Opernwerkstätten, built between 1939 and 1941 with some involvement from Albert Speer, used to house the workshops of Berlin’s many opera companies.  It was here that the sets were built and costumes made.  Visiting during the installation of the new exhibition gave me the opportunity to appreciate the space.

The ceiling at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A hook at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Außer Betrieb - Fire Alarm at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Olympus turned over 7,000 m² of the building to a group of artists to create site-specific installations on the theme ‘Space and Art’.   Between them, Jeongmoon Choi, Martin Butler, Shan Blume, Starstyling, Numen / For Use, Julian Charrière, UnitedVisualArtists, Tim John and Sven Meyer & Kim Pörksen, Speech and Zimoun have created a stimulating playground for the senses.

Visitors are invited to explore the space and document their experiences with the Olympus OM-D camera which can be rented free of charge.  The memory card is removed from the camera when it is returned and can be taken home.

The Olympus OM-D system camera

Photo courtesy of Olympus

Warning: You will need ‘proper’ identification (for those without a National Identity Card, a passport) to borrow one of the cameras.

Unfortunately, my UK Drivers Licence wasn’t acceptable so I can’t tell you any more about the Olympus OM-D, except that it looks good.

It was clear that those people who did get their hands on the camera were enjoying the experience though – everywhere you went people were snapping away.

Visitors taking photos of the installation by Zimoun – Prepared dc-motors, cork balls, cardboard boxes at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Visitors having fun with the installation by fashion designing duo Starstyling – Settings at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A visitor taking photographs in the installation by SPEECH (Tchoban & Kuznetsov) – towninbox at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

And why wouldn’t they?  The installations have been cleverly conceived and constructed to play with light, sound and perception and make ideal subjects or backgrounds for photographs.

A visitor taking photographs in Shan Blume's OT_L_Space_01 at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

 

United Visual Artists – Vanishing point at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Amongst my favourite installations was Drawing Space by Korean artist Jeongmoon Choi.  The simple but effective use of UV light and string created a myriad of geometric patterns that were visually striking and different from every angle.

Visitors interacting with the installation by Jeongmoon Choi - Drawing in Space at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Another outstanding contribution was Tim John’s ‘Was war gestern’ (What was yesterday).  I spoke to the artist while he was creating the artwork and it was important for him to create an experience with his installation.  Echoing the building’s past he has created a stage and set, complete with audience in their boxes.  A number of ‘pointing fingers’ direct visitors to the interactive elements.  The crank of an old gramophone, for instance, must be turned to start the show.

Tim John – Was war gestern (What was yesterday) at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A fun, interactive, sensory experience this is what all exhibitions should be.  The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground has returned in 2014 and is open daily 11:00 to 19:00 at the Opernwerkstätten, Zinnowitzer Strasse 9, Berlin until 25 May 2014 – entry is free.

Photos From My Phone – March

March in Berlin started with signs that spring might be on the way (though it turns out that winter wasn’t ready to hand over the baton) and I enjoyed a beer in the sun by the Spree.

San Miguel by the Spree - Berlin

White Trash Fast Food provided a couple of entertaining evenings.  First, Blog ‘n’ Burger a gathering of Berlin burger lovers expertly organised by Chris Lietze.

Chilli Cheeburger at White Trash Fast Food in Berlin

Then, later in the month Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo.  I was even on stage for a tie-break for the final prize of €40 but couldn’t indentify Eminem quickly enough to bag the swag.

Rock n Roll Bingo Card at White Trash Fast Food in Berlin

I probably had the most surreal experience of my life this month when David Hasselhoff tweeted a link to my Ohrwurm: Looking For Freedom post, urging followers to sign the Save The East Side Gallery petition.  The Hoff even came to Berlin to show his support.  This KITT like car was at the East Side Gallery on the day.

KITT at East Side Gallery Berlin

If this is all news to you have a look at this great video from Luci of In a Berlin Minute, including the Hoff singing Looking For Freedom.

I saw lots of great Street Art, including these pieces by .FRA and Mein Lieber Prost – I just have to find time to post about it all.

Blue Slimer - Street Art by .FRA in Berlin

Bin Stolz Auf Dich - Street Art by Mein Lieber Prost in Berlin

I managed to snap a quick photo of this girl in Bowie face paint at the Tram stop at Eberswalder Strasse.  For more about Bowie’s association with Berlin have a look at Famous Berliners: David Bowie.

A girl with Bowie face paint at a tram stop in Berlin

My March round-up ends as it started with booze.  This time The Wild East cocktail from Stagger Lee (a great Berlin cocktail bar) – sehr lecker!

The Wild East cocktail at Stagger Lee in Berlin

You can follow my Berlin adventures on Instagram.

The East Side Gallery – “Mr Wowereit, DON’T tear down this wall!”

Dmitri Vrubel - Fraternal Kiss (Brezhnev and Honecker embrace) - one of the paintings on the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is one of Berlin’s most popular tourist attractions – a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall that stands as an ‘international memorial for freedom’.

The wall running along Mühlerstrasse near the banks of the River Spree was painted with over 100 murals by a group of international artists.

On 28 February 2013 my Twitter feed was abuzz with the news that a section of the wall was to be removed so that a developer could build a block of luxury flats on the land between the wall and the river.

People reacted strongly.

A protest was organised for the following day at the Wall and thanks to those protesters the removal was halted with just a small section gone.

A larger protest was organised on the Saturday morning.  Reports of the numbers present varied but official estimates put the turnout at 6,000.

A petition was started and thousands of signatures were quickly added.

On Monday morning events took a turn for the bizarre.

I woke up when my phone buzzed beside me.  I had a notification of a tweet from @HildaHoy.

I blinked a few times.  I pinched myself.  I wasn’t dreaming.

David Haselhoff had somehow read a post I had written on Sunday about his song Looking For Freedom, in which I had referred to the threat to the East Side Gallery and had tweeted about it.

Later that day, David Hasselhoff wrote his own blog post about the issue and urged his fans to sign the petition.

The Hoff’s involvement was widely reported – articles appeared on the websites of The Guardian, Berliner Morgenpost and Süddeutsche.  The Mädels with a Microphone made a great podcast about the protests.

And now to top it all off in an interview with HuffPost Live, David Hasselhoff has said that he would be willing to perform at the Wall to show his support.

Save East Side Gallery Petition - A computer generated image of flats at the Wall

Image: Change.org

The number of signatures on the petition to Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is now closing in on 75,000 – you can add your name to it on change.org.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous speech, delivered at the Berlin Wall in 1987, the message is:

“Mr Wowereit, DON’T tear down this wall!”

Work at the wall has been suspended until after the issue has been discussed at a meeting of the Berlin Senate on 18 March.

The developer has how said that the section of wall was being removed to give access to a new pedestrian bridge – a replacement for the Brommybrücke, which was blown up by the Nazis as the Soviets advanced on Berlin.  Klaus Wowereit has indicated that he thinks removal of the wall should be avoided if possible.  Early signs are good that a suitable compromise can be reached.

It would be incredible to see The Hoff perform at the Berlin Wall and if that happens, Gilly has to be there too.  And if it’s going to be perfect, we have to go to a bar on Hasselhoffstrasse (if the concert happens there has to be a street named after him) afterwards for beers, a burger and Vodka Ahojs – the man himself being present would be the icing on the cake.

Photos From My Phone – January

The new year started with a bang – well, lots of them actually.  I spent my first Silvester (New Year’s Eve) in Berlin and went to watch the fireworks at Brandenburger Tor from a side street near Potsdamer Platz.  Here’s a short video:

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, Silvester in Berlin is mental, with people launching rockets from their hands and throwing bangers at the feet of other revellers.  For a bit of an insight into just how ridiculous it can be, check out this video shot in Neukölln that night:

January is the month I finally succumbed to the lure of instagram and also discovered the joys of another great new app – Untapp’d – thanks to Gilly.  This is foursquare for boozing - check in your beers.

Potsdamer Rex Pils bottle top

After Christmas in Cardiff and some time settling back in to my Berlin routine I was getting Currywurst withdrawal symptoms so I headed to my favourite Berlin Imbisszur Bratpfanne.  Even standing around in freezing temperatures this is one hell of a lunch.

Currywurst mit Pommes at zur Bratpfanne in Berlin

Popping into the Hof at Haus Schwarzenberg near Hackescher Markt I saw this sticker by Mein Lieber Prost.

Prost - Joke Sticker - a twist on the Shepard Fairey Obama Hope poster by Mein Lieber Prost in Berlin

I spotted this ‘TANZ’ (dance) sign from a distance as I walked along Chaussestrasse and only realised as I got close that it is on the side of the Hafen Bar, somewhere I’ve been told I have to go for the Schlager (more withdrawal symptoms since Schmankerl-Hüttn closed).

Tanz (Dance) - Sign at Hafen Bar Berlin

The Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonic) looks a little bit like a cross between a circus tent and an alien spaceship.

Berliner Philharmonie - The Berlin Philharmonic Hall at dusk on a snowy cold day

Beelitz-Heilstätten is a former tuberculosis sanatorium and German military hospital, where amongst others, Adolf Hitler convalesced after the First World War.  An hour or so from central Berlin, it has been abandoned for many years and is a popular urbex destination.  Most of the buildings have been secured now and this post indicates that someone is charging curious souls for entry.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium and German military hospital near Berlin

I spotted this cheeky cow when I was wandering around Kreuzberg on the day I found most of the Street Art that would feature in my MTO – Photorealistic Street Art in Berlin and Finding AliCé By Accident posts.

Cheeky Cow - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

Berlin went Bowie mad in January after he released Where Are We Now?  Read more about Bowie’s Berlin in my Famous Berliners: David Bowie post.

Bowie Insurrection Sticker by Maxx on a Berlin lamp post

There was plenty of snow in Berlin in January and someone built this snow princess outside the hairdresser next to my building.

Snow Princess in Berlin

Why not follow me on instagram to keep up with my Berlin wanders – andberlinblog.  And if you like a beer download Untappd and find me – andberlin.

Video Week – Berlin on Vimeo: Day 6 – Berlin Holi Open Air – Festival of Colours

Berlin Holi Open Air Festival (screenshot from Official Video)

Photo: Still from Berlin Holi Open Air Festival – Official Video

Here’s a splash of colour to start the weekend of Video WeekBerlin Holi Open Air – Festival of Colours.

In July 2012 thousands gathered outside Postbahnhof in Berlin to celebrate Holi – a Hindu Festival of Colours traditionally celebrated in spring – by throwing bags of coloured powder at each other.

Berlin Holi Open Air – Festival of Colours 2013 will be taking place on 29 June 2013.  Sign up for more info on the website.

Berlin Holi Open Air – Festival of Colours