The 5 best festivals in Hamburg

1) MS Dockville / Vogelball

Once a year, Hamburg residents morph into bright birds of paradise. A whole flock of feathered friends then leaves the city centre, heading for a different world. The easiest route is by bike through the old Elbtunnel, past the stacked ocean cargo containers of Wilhelmsburg island – and into the birds’ nest, a colourful, glittering techno world.

artists dressed up as birds at Vogelball festival Hamburg

2) Reeperbahn Festival

The stages along the ‘Mile of Sin’ have cleaned the Reeperbahn’s grubby reputation up a little. Today, the Reeperbahn Festival and Music Conference is one of the stand-out showcase festivals in Europe. Churches, harbour launches, circus tents become stages. In screenings, workshops and readings, there’s new music in every corner – which will soon be in every ear as well.

a bang performing at Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg

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3) Hallo:Festspiele

Concerts, performances, DJ sets and sound installations – the managers have only been yelling a loud “Hallo!” in June here for a short number of years. Composers, international artists and producers showcase their work in the 12.800 square metres of the Bille power station. During the Festspiele, you can also reach it by water taxi.

a music installation at the Hello:Festspiele in Hamburg

Bullerdeich 12-14

4) Überjazz Festival

Those two November evenings in the former machine factory at the Kampnagel push back the style boundaries of jazz every time. Past line-ups have featured Neneh Cherry, Steven ‘Thundercat’ Bruner and Lucia Cadotsch. Hamburg locals JazzLab and the video artists of aufderlichtung also regularly set people dancing the night away at this indoor festival.

a band performing at überjazz Festvial in Hamburg

5) Spektrum

Hamburg had long since lost its reputation as a hip-hop city to Mannheim and Heidelberg. With rappers such as Eunique, Kalim and Bonez Mc, new and respectable voices have returned to the mikes in past years. Spektrum at the Schlengendeich in Wilhelmsburg attracts many of the greats of Deutschrap every year. Phrases are banged out all one night long in the shadow of an old corn warehouse near the Southern Elbe.

Spektrum festival 2019 in Hamburg

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