Winter in Berlin: That sounds like a promising event! A capital of cutting-edge creativity and historic change, Berlin is a city in constant flux, where boundaries blur and identities blend to come up with whole new cultural happenings. This weekend’s events capture the city’s evolving spirit with an array of arts and entertainment designed to face new frontiers: from avant-garde art and thought, fearless photography and film-making, and a thrilling blend of electronic music in classical surroundings. Let’s push things forward in February 2023.
Tip 1: Explore new creative frontiers at contemporary art festivals
Berlin is always at the cutting-edge – and as we move deeper into a new year, the city plays host to artists and creatives who are pushing the boundaries of how we think about the world around us. This year’s edition of the 36.transmediale festival sees thinkers and makers grapple with the theme of ‘a model, a map, a fiction’ – and the collapsing of our understanding of scale in a post-digital world where the paths that connect us are shaped by technology. Meanwhile, the 24th edition of the CTM Festival for Adventurous Music and Art draws to a close with – as the name suggests – an exploration of sound and vision as a gateway to a new reality. Get ready to explore new universes of thought and feeling in the capital this weekend.
Where: venues across the city
When: all weekend
Check it out:
Tip 2: Taste the finest vintages at WeinBerlin Frühling
This weekend, Berlin welcomes all lovers of fine wines and rare vines to the spring edition of WeinBerlin. This iconic gathering for aficionados of the great grape will see 80 exhibitors from across Germany and around the world serve up no less than 900 different wines for guests’ delectation. Sample some of the finest flavours from vintners hailing from all four corners of the globe in convivial surroundings at what’s sure to be a corker – if you pardon the pun – of an event.
Where: Saturday, 4 February, 12 noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 5 February, 12 noon to 6 p.m.
When: Telekomrepräsentanz Berlin, Französische Strasse 33a-c, Mitte
Tip 3: Discover daring documentary film-making at KODEX
Back for its fifth edition, the fearless documentary film festival KODEX presents 10 fantastic new features for Berlin’s filmgoers. This year’s programme focuses on the concept of territory, borders and how we cross them – with filmmakers and subjects spanning the globe from Belgium to Ethiopia, Germany’s own Ruhr Valley to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Each movie is sure to be a boundary-breaking piece of cinema in its own right. Get ready to be moved, inspired and provoked in equal measure as you pass the popcorn this weekend.
Where: various cinemas across the city
When: all weekend – festival ends 8 February
Tip 4: Celebrate 50 years of fearless photography from Nan Goldin
Pioneering photographer Nan Goldin has been making waves with her camera lens for five decades now. With a body of work focusing on love, sexuality and violence, the American artist has made major contributions to achieving acceptance and recognition for the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide. In honour of her 2022 Käthe-Kollwitz-Preis win, set to be awarded in March 2023, Berlin’s Academy of Arts is exhibiting a retrospective of her work spanning early black-and-white images from her Boston period to recent large-scale landscapes and grids. Don’t miss this spotlight on the work of a living legend.
Where: Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, Hansaviertel
When: Friday, 3 February, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 4 and 5 February, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – exhibition runs until March
Tip 5: Rummage for beautiful vintage bargains in an old Berlin ballroom
The Ballhaus Berlin opens its doors once again this weekend for the quarterly edition of Old Fleas, one of the city’s most vibrant thrift markets. Think true vintage goodies featuring fashion highlights from throughout the twentieth century, all in the atmospheric surroundings of a turn-of-the-century ballroom building. Retailers from all over Europe are set to flock to this fixture of the preloved fashion calendar to sell clothing, curios and accessories to a style-savvy public. Put the fun in Fleas this weekend.
Where: Ballhaus Berlin, Chausseestraße 102, Mitte
When: Sunday, 5 February, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tip 6: Explore the boundaries of music, dance and drag with Olympia Bukkakis
This show from Olympia Bukkakis questions tropes and challenges convention in a thrilling hour of movement and music, dance and drag. She and her backup dancers deconstruct the roles of the tragic diva and the dying woman and question received wisdom about gender and sexuality wherever they find it – including on the drag stage. This thought-provoking display of dazzling artistry leaves no perspective unchallenged. Get ready for their movement to move you.
Where: Sophiensaele, Sophienstraße 18, Mitte
When: Friday and Saturday, 3 and 4 February, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 5 February, 6 p.m.
Tip 7: Watch electronic meet the Philharmonic at a music fest with a twist
An array of artists are set to power up the Philharmonic with their future-forward beats this weekend at Strom music festival – a celebration of all things electronic in the hallowed halls of the Berlin Philharmonic’s home on Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße. Spaces that usually reverberate with analogue sound will make way for something a little more contemporary at an event that’s all about the beauty of breaking boundaries: so very Berlin. More power to their elbow.
Where: Philharmonie Berlin, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße 1, Tiergarten
When: Friday and Saturday, 3 and 4 Feburary, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tip 8: Tap your feet to a Night of Percussion at Pierre Boulez Saal
DThe latest instalment of the Pierre Boulez Saal’s celebrations of individual instruments of the orchestra sees the Berlin classical music institution doff its cap to the percussion section. This Sunday’s concert, masterminded by maestro Dominic Oelze – principal percussionist of the Staatskapelle Berlin – is set to celebrate the striking sounds of everything from marimba to timpani, vibraphone to xylophone. Don’t miss a beat this weekend.
Where: Pierre Boulez Saal, Französische Straße 33D, Mitte
When: Sunday, 5 February, 6 p.m.
Tip 9: Discover the stories behind the lens at the Museum of Photography
Berlin’s Museum of Photography is the perfect spot to immerse yourself of the art of the camera lens. This popular institution is full of incredible works and fascinating insights on the people and conditions that made them. The museum is also home to the Helmut Newton Foundation. The iconic photographer’s ‘Private Property’ is a permanent feature on display, alongside a temporary exhibition of his work for advertising agencies and corporate clients towards the end of the 20th century. Spend time in the company of creative genius this weekend.
Where: Museum für Fotografie, Jebensstraße 2, Charlottenburg
When: all weekend, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tip 10: Embrace new perspectives atop the TV Tower
As we enter the second month of the new year, it’s a great time to take stock and examine your outlook for the year ahead. And there’s nowhere better to do so than from the stunning vantage point of the top of Berlin’s TV Tower. Here, 203 metres above the capital, you’ll get a whole new perspective on the streets you walked just moments ago, as the city comes to life beneath you in a whole different light. With Berlin as your inspiration, this year, you may be ready to take life to new heights.
Where: Panoramastraße 1a, Mitte
When: all weekend, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tip 11: Experience the world of technology at the Deutsches Technikmuseum
Germany’s Museum of Technology offers a fascinating glimpse into the marvels of science, engineering and technical wizardry that have helped build our modern world. Spanning 19 different permanent exhibitions and with a rotating array of special shows, it lifts the lid on everything that makes up our everyday, from transport to telecommunications, chemicals to computers. After a visit to this fascinating institution, you’ll see the everyday world in a whole new light. Learn something new about life around you this weekend.
Where: Deutsches Technikmuseum, Trebbiner Straße 9, Kreuzberg
When: Friday, 3 February, 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 4 and 5 February, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last entry 4.30 p.m.)