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Berlin

  • Germany
  • Berlin
  • 891,7 km²
  • Mediterranean
  • (GMT+2)
  • Euro
  • German
  • 3,670,622
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General Information About Berlin

About Berlin

There’s nowhere quite like Berlin. Sensual, gritty, hip and debauched, it’s a colossal city with a tumultuous back-story. It also has a myriad of different faces: the staunch solidity of the Reichstag, the rainbow melee of its multicultural population, the insistent bass-thump of its numberless nightclubs.

The city is a cosmopolitan, creative hub with a thriving underground pulse. This is not somewhere to cover in one visit. Its history is labyrinthine, its design and food scenes are worlds unto themselves and its hedonistic nightlife is among the best this side of the Atlantic. It’s also one of the most liberal destinations in Europe – there are few taboos left here.

While the locals might have moved on from the past, the scars of war are still visible on some of the most iconic monuments. Sections of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades, still stand today. There are also plenty of world-class museums documenting life under both the Nazis and the Soviets.

For visitors, today’s Berlin is mostly sought after for its vibrant cultural life. In the early 2000s, cheap rents, widespread squatting and alternative economies in the face of the city’s financial woes gave rise to a generation of home-grown creative types; even former mayor Klaus Wowereit described his city as ‘poor but sexy’.

Gentrification and rising house prices have begun to challenge that. But Berlin still boasts thrilling street art, resident artists of all disciplines, and a strong music scene befitting the one-time home of names such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.

From a tourist perspective, Berlin remains relatively inexpensive – moderate budgets will suffice to eat, drink and sleep well here. The city also offers a kaleidoscope of different culinary cultures, so you can dine on Vietnamese, Japanese and Turkish food as easily as German. The city’s large Turkish community has earned the trendy East Berlin district of Kreuzberg the nickname ‘Little Istanbul’. Legend has it the doner kebab was born here, and takeaway shops selling it can be found on almost every street corner.

With its global gastronomy, stormy history and vivacious subcultures, Berlin is unrivalled in its ability to entertain, asking only one question of its visitors: when are you joining the party?

Berlin History

Few cities in the world have endured such radical transformation as Berlin has over the last 100 years. The city’s fate was sealed in 1871 when it became the capital of the German Reich. It was a boost in status that elevated what had been a fairly modest city into the empire’s political, industrial and economic heart. The next few decades witnessed rapid development and by 1877 the city was a thriving metropolis.

The German capital soon raised eyebrows abroad – and for all the right reasons. Not only was it becoming one of Europe’s cultural hotspots, but its industrious inhabitants were leaping ahead, with the invention of the world’s first electric railway in 1879 counted among the city’s greater achievements.

By 1903 Berlin had become the largest tenement city in the world and also boasted an underground railway, thriving cultural scene and giant department stores. But these halcyon days weren’t to last. WWI abruptly burst the bubble and led to starvation, war weariness and strikes. In 1918 the embattled Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated, the armistice was signed and the German government was handed over to the Social Democrats.

The post-war years in Berlin were defined by political instability and economic turmoil, all of which helped Adolf Hitler rise to power. Hitler began remodelling Berlin but his invasion of Poland three years later sparked WWII, during which vast swathes of Berlin were reduced to rubble. The devastated city was divided into four sectors after the war, each administered jointly by the occupying powers of the UK, France, the USA and the Soviet Union.

It wasn’t a happy marriage and in 1962 the infamous Berlin Wall was erected to keep the residents of Soviet-controlled East Berlin from fleeing to the west; Germany’s capital had become the epicentre of the Cold War.

When the wall fell in 1989, optimism prevailed and Berlin became Europe’s largest building site as the fragmented East Berlin and West Berlin were fused back together. Today, the scars are still visible but Berlin has bounced back.

Did you know?

  • The last person to die trying to cross the Berlin Wall was an East German who attempted to fly over the wall in a hot air balloon in March 1989.
  • Napoleon took The Brandenburg Gate quadriga back to Paris with him following the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806.
  • The Großer Tiergarten originally started out as a hunting ground for monarchs.

Weather in Berlin

Best time to visit:

There’s no denying it, Berlin’s weather is far from the best. Its winters can be freezing, with snow on the ground for weeks at a time, and summers can be hot and muggy, with rain and cloud prevailing between the two extremes. June to September are the best months to visit when the weather is at its best and the city hosts many events including the Berlin Beer Festival, Berlin Pride and Musikfest Berlin.

Getting around Berlin

Public transport

The stereotype goes that German trains are so efficient you could set your watch by them. Of course there are always exceptions, but on the whole Berlin’s extensive transport network is more likely to enforce that stereotype than contradict it.

The German capital is vast but extremely well served by public transport, which is probably why Berlin has one of the lowest numbers of cars per capita in Europe. Of course there are still the usual issues for motorists like traffic jams and parking, but the city’s road network and relative lack of vehicles makes it far easier to drive around than some of Europe’s other capitals.

Berlin has a highly integrated transport system comprising U-Bahn (underground), S-Bahn (commuter rail), bus and tram services, with easy connections to regional and mainline rail services. Information on fares, routes and timetables is available from Berlin Transport Services (BVG) (tel: +49 30 19449; www.bvg.de).

Tickets are priced for either two or three zones – almost all visitors will use the AB tariff (though note that Schönefeld Airport lies just within zone C). The CityTourCard combines transport in zones A and B or A, B and C and an advantage card offering discounts to 10 tourist attractions. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive allows optionally unlimited travel in zones A and B or A, B and C, and gives discounts on 200 attractions (www.turbopass.de/berlin-city-pass-welcomecard-all-inclusive). You can buy these at any ticket counter or machine or purchase them online and print them off before you leave.

There are no ticket barriers at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, which makes it tempting not to pay for your journey. However, plain-clothed inspectors have a habit of springing up and issuing fines for those without tickets. When transport is so reasonably priced, it’s silly to take the risk.

Taxis

Taxis in Berlin are plentiful, cheap and scrupulously honest. It is standard practice to simply round up the price to the nearest euro, though for longer journeys, add a couple. You can book taxis with Taxi-Funk Berlin (tel: +49 30 443 322) and Würfelfunk (tel: +49 30 210 101).

Driving

Berlin has an excellent public transport system, so it should not be necessary to drive in the city. However, if you are planning on driving it’s worth bearing in mind that the city centre is a ‘Particle Free Emission’ area and drivers must display a specially approved sticker in their car or risk a fine. The ticket is available from Umwelt Plakette (www.umwelt-plakette.de).

You have to pay for parking in much of the city centre. Where parking is free, it’s notoriously difficult to find a spot. If you do have a car, there are plenty of multistorey car parks throughout Berlin, as well as Park and Ride areas beside many S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations.

Car hire

All of the major car hire firms are represented in Berlin and all have multiple locations throughout the city. Some of the most central are Avis (tel: +49 30 230 9370; www.avis.com) and Europcar (tel: +49 30 240 7900; www.europcar.de). Drivers must be over 23 years old and require a valid national driving licence. Some car hire firms allow a minimum age of 18 years but charge a special rate for young drivers.

Bicycle hire

Cycling is an extremely popular way of getting around Berlin and it’s fairly easygoing too, thanks to the city’s flat terrain and extensive network of cycle paths. Bicycle hire is available from fahrradstation, Leipziger Strasse 56 (tel: 0180 510 8000, in Germany only; www.fahrradstation.de), or Fat Tire Bike Rentals, Panoramastrasse 1A (tel: +49 30 2404 7991; www.fahrradverleihberlin.com). There are also bikeshare schemes run by nextbike (+49 30 6920 5046; www.nextbike.de/en/berlin) and Deutsche Bahn/LIDL-Bike (www.callabike-interaktiv.de/de/staedte/Berlin).

People

Berlin is a relatively young city by European standards, dating to the thirteenth century, and it has always had a reputation as a place filled with people from elsewhere. It may seem tough to find someone born and raised here! This is part of Berlin's charm: it never gets stuck in a rut.

A certain uneasy détente still exists between some former residents of East and West Berlin (and Germany). Wessi evolved as a derogatory nickname for a West German; its corollary is Ossi. The implication here is that after reunification, the West Germans automatically assumed the way they do things is the right way, and the way the Easterners should start doing it, too. Westerners got a reputation for being arrogant. They saw the Easterners as stubborn Communist holdouts interested only in a handout from the "rich West." Consider a shirt for sale in a shop inside the Alexanderplatz Deutsche Bahn station: Gott, schütze mich vor Sturm und Wind/und Wessies die im Osten sind ("God, protect me from the storm and wind, and Wessies who are in the East"). Another such stereotype is reflected by the short poem: Der Ossi ist schlau und stellt sich dumm, beim Wessi ist es andersrum ("The Ossi is sly and pretends to be simple-minded, and with the Wessi, it's the other way around"). However, most of the younger generation do not share such prejudices.

Economy

One of the most important "products" produced in Berlin by both academic and company-sponsored institutes is research. That research is exported around the world. German labour is highly efficient but comes at high cost. Strong trade unions, the end of West Berlin's pre-reunification subsidies and Germany's dense regulatory environment forced industry to concentrate on high quality and expensive products.

Things to do in Berlin

See what’s going on underground

One of the most fascinating tours available in Berlin is run by Berliner Unterwelten E.V. (tel: +49 30 499 105 17; berliner-unterwelten.de/) and seeks to show the architecture of the city from below. The company’s headquarters are located in an air raid shelter in the Gesundbrunnen station, and from here you can get an insight into the psychologically-testing life underground for Berliners during WW2.

Catch a film in a squat

Berlin is home to a roving squatter population, and some of them regularly open their doors for move screenings. How you fare at them will depend largely on your attitude, but this is a great way to see some underground cinema at backstreet prices. For information and listings, try Stressfaktor (www.stressfaktor.squat.net).

Go to the world’s greatest nightclub

Berghain (tel: +49 30 29 36 02 10; berghain.de) sits on a dusty industrial lot between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain and has the uncontested position as the world’s greatest purveyor of techno music. It’s opening hours aren’t for the weak – the Saturday night parties often wrap up Monday morning – and it has a legendarily selective door policy, with hundreds of people are turned away every weekend. Our tip for the queue: don’t act drunk, and speak English as quietly as possible.

Base flying

For those that haven’t heard of it, base flying (tel: +49 89 708 090 10; www.base-flying.com) lets brave participants fall from a 125m-high (410ft) building without meeting a gruesome death. The controlled fall (using a winch rappel) is a safe, stomach-in-your-throat experience that’s not for the fainthearted.

Swimming

Berliners love to get into the water as often as possible. In the city itself, don’t miss the Badeschiff (tel: +49 30 533 203, www.arena.berlin/veranstaltungsort/badeschiff): a boat moored to the Spree bank with a swimming pool and hipster-packed beach and bar. More adventurous swimming is found at any one of the hundreds of lakes that surround Berlin – Wannsee, Weissensee, Müggelsee and Havelsee are easily reachable by public transport or bike.

Berlin Culture and History

Berlin Culture and History

Berlin History

The early period

Origins

The name Berlin appears for the first time in recorded history in 1244, seven years after that of its sister town, Kölln, with which it later merged. Both were founded near the beginning of the 13th century. In 1987 both East and West Berlin celebrated the city’s 750th anniversary. Whatever the date of foundation, it is certain that the two towns were established for geographic and mercantile reasons, as they commanded a natural east-west trade route over the Spree River.

The way for their founding was opened by a Germanic resurgence in the area, which had been abandoned to the Slavs by the original Germanic tribes as they had migrated westward. The Slavs were subdued by Albert I the Bear, a Saxon who crossed the Elbe River from the west. His successors took the title margrave of the mark (border territory) of Brandenburg. Berlin still retains as its symbol a defiant black bear standing on its hind legs.

The settlements of Spandau and Köpenick, now metropolitan districts, preceded the establishment of Berlin-Kölln; fortified settlements at both sites date to the 8th century. The Ascanians, followers of Albert I the Bear, established their fortress in 1160 at Spandau in the north where the Spree flows into the Havel River; by 1232 the fortress had earned the privileges of a town. Berlin-Kölln emerged between Spandau to the northwest and Köpenick to the southeast. By 1250 Berlin-Kölln dominated the mark of Brandenburg east to the Oder River, where a fort had been built in 1214, and in the 14th century it became the centre of the city league of the mark of Brandenburg (founded in 1308) and joined the Hanseatic League of northern German towns.

The Hohenzollerns

In 1411 the mark of Brandenburg came under the governorship of the Nürnberg feudal baron Frederick VI. This began Berlin’s association with the Hohenzollerns, who from the end of the 15th century as electoral princes of Brandenburg established Berlin-Kölln as their capital and permanent residence.

The Thirty Years’ War of 1618–48 laid a heavy financial burden on the city, and the population was reduced from 12,000 to 7,500. When Frederick William the Great Elector assumed power in 1640, he embarked on a building program, which included fortifications that enabled him to expel Swedish invaders. His rule also marked the beginning of the development of canals, which by 1669 provided a direct link between Breslau (now Wrocław, Pol.) in the east and Hamburg and the open sea in the west. His successor, Frederick III, crowned Prussian king (as Frederick I) in 1701 in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia), made Berlin the royal residence city. In 1709 the framework of Greater Berlin was laid when Berlin-Kölln and the newer towns of Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt, and Friedrichstadt were put under a single magistrate. The population grew from 12,000 in 1670 to 61,000 in 1712, including 6,000 French Huguenot refugees.

During the first half of the 18th century, Berlin expanded in all directions. Frederick II the Great adorned the city with new buildings and promoted its economic and infrastructural development. The Napoleonic occupation of 1806–08 caused a serious setback to its development. Part of the administrative, economic, and cultural reconstruction was the foundation, in 1810, of the Frederick William University by the scholar and minister of education Wilhelm von Humboldt. (The university was renamed Humboldt University in 1949.) But colleges and academies had already existed in Berlin since the mid-17th century. Berlin early attracted outstanding thinkers, including the philosophers Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Karl Marx. The city had its first popular uprising in 1830 when tailors’ apprentices took to the streets over working conditions. The Revolution of 1848 led to a bloody clash between soldiers and citizenry. By this time the city’s population had risen to 415,000, from about 100,000 a century before. With the opening of the Berlin-Potsdam line in 1838, Berlin became the centre of an expanding rail network.

The 20th century

Four times in the 20th century, the date of November 9 has marked dramatic events in the history of Germany and Berlin. On that date in 1918, Berlin became the capital of the first German republic. Five years later Hitler’s putsch was put down in Munich. In 1938 Nazi storm troopers vandalized Jewish synagogues, shops, and other properties in the night of violence known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). And on November 9, 1989, East German authorities opened the wall that had divided the city for 28 years. Because of the associations attached to this date, October 3, rather than November 9, became the new national holiday (Unity Day).

The period 1918–33 was one of runaway inflation, mass unemployment, and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. On January 31, 1933, Hitler became chancellor and, based on the infamous Enabling Act, adopted by a Reichstag majority, he took absolute power that very year.

In 1933 the Nazis began to persecute communists, social democrats, and labour unionists and to deprive the German Jews of their rights as citizens. Owing to voluntary and forced emigration, the Jewish population of Berlin decreased from 4.3 percent, or 170,000, in 1925 to 1.8 percent in 1939. The spectacle of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin only superficially veiled the reality of Nazi Germany, which was soon revealed by Kristallnacht. Five thousand Jews survived the Holocaust in the city of Berlin. In 1990 the World Jewish Congress met for the first time in Germany, in Berlin.

Allied aerial bombing during World War II cost Berlin an estimated 52,000 people. Another 100,000 civilians died in the battle for Berlin launched by the Soviet army on April 16, 1945. Most of Berlin’s residential districts, factories, military facilities, streets, and cultural buildings were destroyed. On April 30, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker below the Chancellery.

Berlin united

Mass escapes in the summer of 1989 via Hungary and mass demonstrations in Leipzig, Berlin, and elsewhere within the GDR in the autumn of 1989 brought about the collapse of communist rule just when the representatives of the GDR and their foreign allies had celebrated the 40th anniversary of East Germany. The opening of the wall brought the 28-year division of Berlin to an end, as the unification of Germany ended the 45-year occupation of the city. With a few segments preserved as a monument, the wall was completely removed by the summer of 1991.

The reunited city, since 1991 Germany’s official capital, is confronted with a range of problems, including a 30-year break in joint and comprehensive city, highway, and public transportation planning; high unemployment, particularly among former East German government employees; duplication of many public institutions and services in the former two city halves; a psychological barrier that arose between easterners and westerners (“the wall in the head”); an acute housing shortage and a sharp rise in real estate prices and rents, intensified by Berlin’s restored position as the national capital; and a flood of immigrants, especially eastern Europeans, for whom Berlin is the easternmost “Western” metropolitan area.

During the 1990s, massive construction projects transformed central Berlin. High-rise commercial construction in the Potsdamer Platz, on the site of the former wall, restored its role as a bustling urban centre, while hotel and retail construction on Friedrichstrasse renewed its place as one of the city’s showpieces. Meanwhile, a new dome capped a renovated Reichstag, which in 1999 once again served as the home of Germany’s parliament, and a series of new and restored government buildings housed most of Germany’s federal ministries by 2000. Large-scale infrastructural projects reunited the city’s long-divided transit systems. Perhaps most importantly, the divisions within the city began to break down as westerners lived or worked in former eastern neighbourhoods, and easterners lived or worked in the former west.

The democratization of eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 moved the centre of European gravity eastward. This shift, expressed also by the transfer of the German federal government from the Rhine to the Spree, holds strong promise for reviving Berlin as an economic centre and as the political and cultural hub of central Europe.

Language

As the official language of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland and the most widely spoken native language in the European Union, German is crucial for students to learn while studying abroad in Europe. Students will discover that German and English are actually very similar to each other, as English is a Germanic language.

Culture

From the Brothers Grimm to Beethoven to Einstein, Germans have made countless contributions to not only German culture, but to the world's culture.

Food & Drink

People travel from all over the world to experience German cuisine. Germany is best known for its sausages,desserts, and beer. Germany ranks second in the world for per-capita beer consumption, only behind the Czech Republic.

Sport

Sports are an integral part of German culture. Germany has hosted the Olympics three times, once in 1972 and twice in 1936. The national sport of Germany is soccer. Germany just recently won the World Cup, making them the best national team in the world. Germany's professional soccer league, the Bundesliga, has one of the highest average attendances of any professional sports league in the world.

Monuments & Must-Sees

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most, if not the most well-known landmarks in all of Germany. From Napolean to John F. Kennedy, students can join the ranks of some of the most notable people in history and walk through the gate.

Berlin Wall

One of the most iconic structures of East and West Germany was the Berlin Wall. East Germany constrcuted the wall in 1961 in order to separate East Germany from West Germany. Taken down in 1989, students are now able to view intact portions of the wall.

Reichstag Building

As the official meeting place for the German Parliament, the Reichstag is the second most visited attraction in Germany. The building was constructed in 1884, severely damaged by a fire in 1933, refurbished in the 1960's and then finally renovated in 1992.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was one of the most well known crossing points between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. From 1961 until 1990, Checkpoint Charlie served as the single crossing point for foreigners and members of the Allied forces. Now it acts as an open air exhibit, allowing students to cross through this famous checkpoint.

Museum Island

Berlin's Museum Island is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Berlin, located on an island in the middle of the Spree river. This island is home to five of Germany's most significant museums: the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode Museum, and the Peramon Museum. The Pergamon Museum holds remnants of the Ishtar Gate, a piece of architecture that was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Cultural Activities

Museums

There are over 60 museums in Berlin alone. In fact, there's a whole island of museums in Berlin called the Museum Island. From art to history to culture, Berlin has all of the museums a student could ever want.

Shopping

From Kurfürstendamm to Oranienburger straße, Berlin will not disspoint those who want to shop. Europe's largest department store, Kaufthaus des Westens (KaDeWe), is located in Berlin and is 60,000 square metres large.

Parks & Gardens

Berlin is home to many beautiful outdoor parks, including the Tiergarten, the Viktoriapark, and the Treptower Park, and is home to just as many outstanding gardens, including the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden, the Britser Garten, and the Erholungspark Marzahn.

Sports

As the host of the 1936 Summer Olympics and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Berlin is one of Europe's leading sport capitals. Students will have the chance to not only attend Bundesliga soccer games, as well as German Ice Hockey League games, but also participate in the many clubs and leagues hosted by their university.

Pop Culture & Music

Berlin has established itself as a center for pop culture and music. Berlin is host to Popkomm, Europe's largest annual music industry convention, is now home to MTV's European headquarters, and hosts multiple festivals like the Berliner Festspiele, Berlin Festival, and Berlin Music Week.

Berlin Events

Berlinale International Film Festival

Date (to be confirmed): Thursday 15 FebruaryAttracting in excess of 400,000 visitors every year, the Berlinale is one of the film industry’s most popular events. Over the course of 10 days, hundreds of genre-crossing films from Germany and abroad are screened to a diverse, international audience. The event also features a host of parties, workshops and panel discussions for the truly dedicated.

Venue: Various venues.Address: Potsdamer Straße 5, Berlin, , 10785Website: www.berlinale.deCost: Various. Tickets on sale from three days prior to screening.

Musikfest Berlin

Date: Thursday 31 August Musikfest is Berlin’s foremost symphonic and chamber music festival, in which the city invites outstanding orchestras, ensembles and soloists to perform at the Berlin Philharmonia. Hosted by the Berlin Festspiele, the festival aims to open up a new perspective on developments and artistic innovations in the international world of classical music. Prestigious and filled with magnificent sounds, the festival maintains an unswerving focus on the orchestra and the full ensemble. Musikfest Berlin embraces the usual repertoire and tour programmes but also focuses on unusual works and historical performance practices, as well as looking at the relationship between contemporary and ancient music, and the crossing of musical borders.

Venue: Berliner Philharmonie.Website: www.berlinerfestspiele.deCost: Various.

JazzFest Berlin

Date (to be confirmed): Tuesday 31 OctoberBerlin’s premier jazz festival attracts a heady mixture of artists from home and abroad, who perform over four glorious days in November. From traditional jazz bands to progressive ensembles, the packed programme of concerts takes place at the city’s eclectic live music venues.

Venue: Various venuesAddress: Includes Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Delphi Filmpalast am Zoo, Kulturbrauerei & Quasimodo, Berlin, , Website: www.berlinerfestspiele.deCost: Free.

Silvester in Berlin

Date (to be confirmed): Sunday 31 DecemberBerlin throws one of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world, a lively shindig that takes place at the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate. As the countdown to midnight begins there are live bands, DJs and some fantastic laser shows to entertain the million plus revellers until the epic fireworks display to mark the start of a new year. If there was something to rival Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, it would be Berlin’s Silvester.

Venue: Brandenburg GateAddress: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, , Website: brandenburger-tor-berlin.de/Cost: Free.

Classic Open Air

Date: Thursday 20 JulyThe picturesque Gerdarmenmarkt Square provides a dramatic backdrop for this legendary music festival, which is now entering its third decade. Held over five days in July, the festival is comprised of a series of concerts, which attract over 600,000 visitors every year. Music fans can expect an eclectic mixture of live music including jazz, soul, swing and even pop.

Venue: GendarmenmarktAddress: Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, , Website: www.classicopenair.deCost: €39.50 to €89.50.

Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures)

Date: Friday 02 JuneThe vibrant district of Kreuzberg is perhaps the most ethnically diverse in all of Berlin and the annual Carnival of Cultures provides an opportunity to celebrate this melting pot of cultures. Residents and visitors come together to enjoy live music, food and a parade. Often compared to the Notting Hill Carnival, this is a must if you happen to be in Berlin during May or June.

Venue: The street festival takes place on and around Bluecherplatz in the district of Kreuzberg.Address: Werkstatt der Kulturen, Kreuzberg, Berlin, , Website: www.karneval-berlin.deCost: Free.

Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of the Museum)

Date: Saturday 19 AugustA Night at the Museum isn’t just an average Ben Stiller film, it’s also a sporadic event in Berlin’s cultural calendar when the city’s museums stay open until the small hours of the morning. Officially called Long Night of the Museum, there are several opportunities to wander around 100 of Berlin’s top attractions by night, but the dates vary so you’ll have to check the website.

Venue: Museums throughout the cityWebsite: www.lange-nacht-der-museen.deCost: FreeBerlin Pride Festival

Date (to be confirmed): Saturday 22 JulyIf you can take any positives from the repressive regimes that once prevailed in Berlin, it would be the way in which the city has now found comfort in liberalism. And the Berlin Pride Festival, which attracts over 700,000 revellers every year, is testament to that. Taking place every June, this month-long event has become more than just an opportunity to march for the rights of gay and lesbian people; it has become a symbol for diversity. Expect a heady mixture of live music, flamboyant fancy dress and debauchery with undertones of political activism.

Venue: Various venues.Website: csd-berlin.deCost: Free.

Berlin Beer Festival

Date: Friday 04 AugustProud German drinkers will tell you their beer is best in the world. Of course, they’re wrong; that accolade belongs to neighbouring Belgium, but you can’t deny their ability to brew a top-notch lager. And if you fancy immersing yourself in Germany’s fine range of beers (over 300 lagers and pilsners) and experiencing some lesser-known brands, then head along to the Berlin Beer Festival. It’s smaller than Munich’s legendary version but you won’t have to book weeks in advance or pay through the nose for a bevvy.

Venue: Various venuesWebsite: www.bierfestival-berlin.deCost: Varied

Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

Date: Saturday 09 JuneThe Berlin Biennial differs from a conventional art festival in that it is composed of a series of events rather than a single exhibition, and each time it changes locations and venues according to the exigencies of the exhibition: "…a strange carnival or street fair, following a jagged descent into the spirals of time". Each year the organisers select an array of unusual venues and exhibition sites. Over 60 artists attend the event working in a variety of media and techniques from etching to woodcut, animation to still photography, role-playing to team building.

Venue: Various venues.Website: www.berlinbiennale.deCost: Varied

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