The Fantastic Four – A Seasonal Guide to Berlin Festivals

One of the major plus points of choosing to spend a bit of time doing a German course in Berlin is that it’s a bustling, energetic and multicultural city. What’s more, it doesn’t exactly seem like the sort of place that needs much of an excuse for a good party.

And, sure enough, nowhere is this multiculturalism and passion for partying, more evident than in the number, and sheer raucous energy, of the many big Berlin events, parades and festivals that take place all year round.

1. Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin Film Festival – which runs for the first two weeks of February every year -stands second only to Cannes on the roster of the world’s big cinema events. Unlike Cannes, however, the Berlin Film Festival is a surprisingly affordable event, with many of the 500 screenings accessible even to film-loving students on a German course in Berlin.

2. St Christopher Street Day Parade

Berlin’s Christopher Street Day is, in terms of numbers at least (and 400,000 revelers is a pretty big number!), the biggest gay pride event on the European festival calendar. Taking place at the end of June, it’s the gay, lesbian and transgender community’s marquis Berlin event… and it’s absolutely fabulous!

Winding a trail through most of Berlin’s major thoroughfares, it’s one of the most colorful, vibrant and gloriously over the top spectacles imaginable. It’s also proof – if ever proof were needed – that Berlin is a beacon of tolerance and live and let live sensibilities.

3. Love Parade

For many people, of course, there’s only one Berlin event that really matters, and that’s the Love Parade. Every year in July, tens of thousands of people – many from across Europe – have made the pilgrimage to Berlin, for what has, undoubtedly, been consistently one the wildest street parties in the world.

Things change, however, and now (due to a number of administrative difficulties) the Love Parade has had to roll onto the Ruhr, and Dortmund. And that, for the party-hungry student on a German course in Berlin, makes it the biggest Berlin event that’s not actually in Berlin!

4. Karneval der Kulturen

Taking place for three days in the middle of May, the Carnival of Cultures is perhaps the most inclusive (or perhaps least ‘niche’, is a better way of putting it?) of the big Berlin events. In the form of (yet another!) Berlin street parade, it’s a vivid multicultural splash of color and international music that takes over groovy Kreuzberg.

There’s one thing that’s absolutely in no doubt whatsoever: there really is something for everybody. In that sense, it’s very much like the city as a whole, in fact.

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