Berlin has a moderately cool and humid climate and is generally comfortable to visit any time of year. The weather is most pleasant in summer, which is rarely suffocatingly hot (usually around 25°C), the occasional heat wave notwithstanding. Spring is beautiful but can be slow to arrive, even if jackets are sometimes stripped off as early as April. Early autumn brings the added bonus of bright foliage and sunshine, which can keep outdoor cafés open through to October. Predictably, December to February is the coldest period. When fierce winds blow in from Russia, it gets mighty chilly, often with subzero temperatures but clear, cloudless skies. Rain is a possibility any time of year.
Berlin is very much a party town with a busy year-round calendar of concert series, street parties, sports events, trade shows and festivals celebrating everything from film to fetish, music to fashion, porn to travel. If you're planning your trip around a major events such as Christopher Street Day or New Year’s Eve, you'd best be well organised. Hundreds of thousands of revellers flood into town, filling hotels, restaurants and venues to capacity. Berlin’s tourist office (www.visitberlin.de) has a searchable events calendar and can also help you book tickets and hotels. The listings magazines Tip (www.tip-berlin.de, in German) and Zitty (www.zitty.de, in German) are the best sources for up-to-the-minute events listings.
Internationale Grüne Woche The week-long International Green Week, a consumer fair for food, agriculture and gardening, is a great excuse for gorging on exotic morsels from around the world.
Lange Nacht der Museen Culture meets entertainment on the last Saturday of January (and August) when up to 100 museums keep their doors open until at least midnight.
Transmediale Digital media art gets full bandwidth at this progressive festival that also investigates how digital technologies shape today’s society and artistic endeavours.
Berlinale Berlin International Film Festival draws stars, starlets, directors, critics and the world’s A-to-Z-list celebrities for two weeks of screenings and glamour parties. The lucky ones go home with a Golden or Silver Bear. Screenings often sell out, so book early.
Internationale Tourismus Börse Take a virtual trip around the globe at the world’s largest international travel expo. It opens to the public at the weekend.
MaerzMusik This contemporary music festival presents a boundary-pushing palette of sounds, from full orchestral symphonies to experimental tonescapes, many of them new or commissioned.
Achtung Berlin Flicks about Berlin produced by Berlin companies get the nod at this festival held at the Kino Babylon with many authors, directors and producers in attendance.
Festtage Founded by state opera boss Daniel Barenboim in 1996, this is a star-studded 10-day festival of high-profile gala concerts and operas with an emphasis on works by Richard Wagner.
Karneval der Kulturen Berlin’s answer to London’s Notting Hill Carnival celebrates the city’s multicultural spirit with parties, exotic nosh and a fun parade of flamboyantly costumed dancers, singers, DJs, artists and musicians shimmying through the streets of Kreuzberg.
Christopher Street Day No matter your sexual persuasion, everybody’s welcome to paint the town pink at this huge pride parade with naked torsos, strutting trannies and more queens than you’d find at a royal wedding.
Fête de la Musique Summer (21 June) starts with good vibrations thanks to hundreds of free concerts during this global music festival that first came online in Paris in 1982.
Sandsation A fantasy world built from sand takes shape from early June through to the end of August next to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). At more than 6m high, these ain’t your little brother’s sandcastles.
Classic Open Air Gendarmenmarkt Five days and five alfresco concerts delight an adoring crowd hunkered on bleachers before the Konzerthaus. No ticket? No problem. Just eavesdrop with the penniless masses from outside the fence.
Museumsinsel Festival Listen to Mongolian shaman drumming, be transported by Argentine electrotango or take a Bollywood dance workshop at this summer-long international festival in the Lustgarten.
Berliner Bierfestival Who needs Oktoberfest when you can have the ‘world’s longest beer garden’? Pick your poison from around 250 breweries from dozens of countries along 2km of Karl-Marx-Allee.
Internationale Funkausstellung Find out what gadgets everyone will want for Christmas at this huge international consumer electronics fair.
Berlin Marathon Sweat it out with the other 50,000 runners or just cheer ’em on during Germany’s biggest street race – which has seen nine world records set since 1977.
Internationales Literaturfestival Dozens of authors from all corners of the world celebrate the power of the pen with the literary public through readings, workshops and events.
Musikfest Berlin World-renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists come together for two weeks of concerts at the Philharmonie and adjacent Kammermusiksaal.
Art Forum Berlin Find out what’s hot in art at this well-established international contemporary art fair that brings together leading galleries, artists, collectors and the merely curious.
Festival of Lights For two weeks Berlin’s all about ‘lightseeing’ as historical landmarks such as the TV Tower, the Berliner Dom and the Brandenburg Gate sparkle with illuminations, projections and fireworks.
Porn Film Festival Vintage porn, Japanese porn, indie porn, sci-fi porn – the ‘Berlinale’ of sex brings alternative skin flicks out of the smut corner and onto the big screen.
You Berlin Stay ahead of the fashion, sports, beauty and lifestyle curve at Europe’s largest youth fair, complete with concerts, live TV tapings and roving casting agents.
Berlin Biennale Presenting new art in unusual sites around town, this biennial exhibition of contemporary art was launched in 1997 by the nonprofi t Kunst-Werke Berlin.
Jazzfest Berlin This top-rated jazz festival has ‘doo-wopped’ in Berlin since 1964 and presents fresh and big-time talent in dozens of performances all over town.
Christmas Markets Pick up shimmering ornaments or get smashed on mulled wine at dozens of Yuletide markets held throughout December in such locales as Breitscheidplatz and Alexanderplatz.
New Year’s Eve Ring in the New Year hugging strangers, cooing at fireworks, guzzling Sekt (sparkling wine) straight from the bottle and generally misbehaving. The main action is at the Brandenburg Gate, but pros and purists prefer the Kreuzberg hill in Viktoriapark.