As autumn heads our way, you can soak up the last of the summer sunshine in Berlin this weekend at an array of exciting outdoor events. With the changing seasons comes time to see things in a new light – quite literally, at the Festival of Light which will be brightening up Berlin this weekend. Illuminating talks and films from some of the world’s brightest writers and filmmakers and an exciting new staging of a classic by radical thinker Bertolt Brecht are also on the menu. See Berlin – and life – in a brand-new light.
Tip 1: Marvel at city landmarks in the Festival of Lights
The 17th edition of this incredible global festival turns the entire city into a showcase for stunning light performances, creating the world’s biggest outdoor gallery in the process. Incredible light shows are set to play out on as many as 75 buildings and installations with around 100 different shows and motifs around the city, taking in classic landmarks like the TV Tower as well as local spots, lighting up the places where ordinary Berliners live and work. Step out into the streets this weekend and see the light
When: 3–5 September (festival ends 12 September)
Where: Landmarks and locations across the city
Tip 2: Enjoy lakeside entertainment at the (Wieder-)Seenfest by Orankesee
Orankesee is one of Berlin’s most popular bathing lakes – and this weekend, you can enjoy an incredible programme of entertainment by its picturesque waters at the (Wieder-)Seenfest festival. The action-packed programme promises festival vibes, with live music from Die Seilschaft (best known as the late singer-songwriter Gerhard Gundermann’s backing band) alongside other performers serving up everything from samba and jazz to Vietnamese sounds. There’s fun in store for all the family, too, including hula hooping performances and a magic show that’s sure to make children’s eyes light up. All this, and in stunning lakeside surroundings, too – don’t miss it.
When: 4 September, 1 pm–10 pm
Where: Strandbad Orankesee, Lichtenberg
Tip 3: Stay in the picture with a stunning exhibition at Berlin Photo Week
Berlin Photo Week, the city’s iconic festival putting photography in focus, comes to an end this weekend with the opening of a new exhibition, Frédéric Brenner’s ZERHEILT: Healed to Pieces, at the Jewish Museum Berlin. The photographer has captured Jewish life in the diaspora for over four decades to global acclaim – and you can catch his work as this incredible celebration of the art form draws to a close.
When: 3 September
Where: Jewish Museum Berlin, Lindenstraße
Tip 4: Explore Berlin’s Botanic Garden by night at the Botanische Nacht
Discover Berlin’s iconic Botanic Garden as you’ve never seen it before as it throws open the gates for two immersive nights of enthralling performance, music and dance. For this weekend only, the garden is transformed into Botania – a magical kingdom featuring fairytale forests and plenty of fascinating corners to explore. Head down to the gardens for a sprinkling of fairy dust.
When: 3–4 September
Where: Berlin Botanic Garden, near Dahlem
Tip 5: Take in thought-provoking talks at the Deutsch-Israelische Literaturtage
This year’s edition of the literary event Deutsch-Israelische Literaturtage welcomes nine authors to discuss a topic that’s all too relevant in our times: crisis, and how it affects our society. Head down to the Literaturhaus to hear some of the brightest writers and thinkers tackle recent events and how they have shaped our society for the future in a selection of thought-provoking talks.
When: 4 September
Where: Literaturhaus Berlin, Fasanenstraße
Tip 6: Discover the best in queer cinema at queerfilmfestival
This year’s edition of queerfilmfestival – the festival’s third – showcases the rich variety of contemporary queer cinema in theatres across 11 cities in Germany and beyond. This year’s programme is packed with 15 festival favourites and fresh new flicks from around the globe, including Boy Meets Boy, the story of a Brit on holiday who falls in love on a Berlin dancefloor, and Tove, a fascinating biopic exploring the life of Moomins creator Tove Jansson.
When: 3–5 September
Where: Delphi Lux, Charlottenburg
Tip 7: Discover the best of craft beer at Berlin Beer Week
Berlin is a craft beer capital and a hipster hub for all things hops – making it the perfect spot for Germany’s biggest craft beer festival. The sixth edition of the festival is serving up a Covid-secure mix of tasty brews and incredible events for beer aficionados and those simply in search of a good time. Bottoms up!
When: 3–5 September (festival ends 12 September)
Where: Various locations across the city
Tip 8: Enjoy outdoor cinema with a powerful message at the OpenAir Kino in den Höfen der Königstadt
The weekend film events at this outdoor cinema in Prenzlauer Berg bring together short films around a major theme. This weekend, the focus is on borders, and the problems they pose for freedom and mutual understanding. Led by Ricardo Brun, the programme features festival favourites and classics, with filmmakers on hand to discuss their work. Head down to Prenzlauer Berg for free films designed to make you think.
When: 5 September, 9 pm
Where: Saarbrücker Straße 24, Prenzlauer Berg
Tip 9: Enjoy a night of shopping and dining in Prenzlauer Berg
Head down to Prenzlauer Berg’s bustling Helmholtzplatz on Saturday night and explore everything its independent shops and restaurants have to offer at Prenzl Late Night, an evening shopping and food event offering free drinks, wine tasting and even a free yoga session. Quirky local outlets getting in on the action include No Wódka, a concept store celebrating Polish art and design, artisan popcorn maker Knalle, and sexymama, a fashion label offering maternity style with a twist. Attendees get a free B-Card worth EUR 5 to spend at participating outlets.
When: 4 September, 5–9 pm
Where: Helmholtzplatz, Prenzlauer Berg
Tip 10: Say a sonic farewell to Tegel Airport at sonambiente
The sounds of planes taking off and landing went quiet in November 2020, when the airport closed – and Berlin is now finally ready to say a different kind of sonic goodbye to Tegel Airport. This year’s edition of Berlin’s legendary ‘festival for eyes and ears’, sonambiente, bids farewell to the famous flight hub with sound performances, virtual reality and audio compositions. Catch the festival this weekend before it closes for a chance to celebrate a Berlin institution in unique style.
When: 3–5 September
Where: Tegel Airport
Tip 11: See a classic Brecht play at his own theatre
Established by playwright Bertolt Brecht and his partner Helene Weigl, the Berliner Ensemble theatre is the best place to see this son of the city’s work on stage. This exciting new take on his classic collaboration with Kurt Weill, The Threepenny Opera – inspired by John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera – offers guaranteed theatrical thrills and spills in a sharp satire that’s lost none of its bite in our present times.
When: 3–5 September (ends 27 September)
Where: Berliner Ensemble, Bertolt-Brecht-Platz