Top Events

Berlinale, February

Karneval der Kulturen, May

Christopher Street Day, July

Berlin Marathon, September

Christmas Markets, December

January

New Year's Eve may be wrapped up, but night-time hot spots show no signs of slowing down, especially during Fashion Week. Cold weather invites extended museum visits and foraging at the Internationale Grüne Woche (Green Week) food fair.

Berlin Fashion Week

Twice a year, in January and again in July, international fashion folk book up all the trendy hotels (and restaurants) while here to present or assess next season's threads.

Internationale Grüne Woche

Find out about the latest food trends and gorge on global morsels at this nine-day fair (www.gruenewoche.de) of food, agriculture and gardening.

February

Days are still short but Berlin perks up when glamour comes to town during the famous film festival. A full theatre, opera, concert and party schedule also tempts people out of the house.

Transmediale

Digital-media art gets full bandwidth at this edgy festival (www.transmediale.de), which investigates the links between art, culture and technology through exhibitions, conferences, screenings and performances.

Berlinale

Berlin’s international film festival draws stars, starlets, directors, critics and the world’s A-to-Z-list celebrities for two weeks of screenings and glamorous parties around town. The best ones go home with a Golden or Silver Bear.

March

Could there be spring in the air? This is still a good time to see the sights without the crowds, but hotel rooms fill to capacity during the big ITB tourism fair.

Internationale Tourismus Börse (ITB)

Take a virtual trip around the globe at the world’s largest international travel expo (www.itb-berlin.de); it’s trade-only during the week but open to the public at the weekend.

MaerzMusik

‘Music’ or ‘soundscapes’? You decide after a day at this contemporary music festival (www.berlinerfestspiele.de), which explores and celebrates a boundary-pushing palette of sounds – from orchestral symphonies to experimental recitals.

April

Life starts moving outdoors as cafe tables appear on pavements and you begin to see budding trees on walks in the park. Hotels get busy over the Easter holidays.

Achtung Berlin

Flicks about Berlin, and at least partially produced in the city, compete for the New Berlin Film Award at this festival (achtungberlin.de). Screenings are often in the company of writers, directors, producers and actors associated with the movie.

Festtage

Daniel Barenboim, music director of Berlin's internationally renowned Staatsoper (State Opera; www.staatsoper-berlin.de), brings the world’s finest conductors, soloists and orchestras together for this 10-day highbrow hoedown of gala concerts and operas.

Gallery Weekend

Join collectors, critics and other art aficionados in keeping tabs on the Berlin art scene on a free hop around 40 of the city’s best galleries (www.gallery-weekend-berlin.de) over the last weekend in April.

May

Spring has finally arrived, making this a fabulous month to visit Berlin. Time for beer gardens, picnics and walks among blossoming trees. Don't forget your sunglasses! Several public holidays bring in big crowds.

Karneval der Kulturen

Every Whitsuntide (Pentecost; seven weeks after Easter) weekend, the Carnival of Cultures (www.karneval-berlin.de) celebrates Berlin's multicultural tapestry with four days of music, dance, art and culture, culminating in a raucous parade of flamboyantly dressed performers shimmying through the streets of Kreuzberg.

Theatertreffen

The Berlin Theatre Meeting (www.theatertreffen-berlin.de) is a three-week showcase of new productions by emerging and established German-language ensembles from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

June

Festival season kicks into high gear around the summer solstice with plenty of alfresco events, thanks to a rising temperature gauge.

Berlin Biennale

This biennial curated forum for contemporary art explores international trends and invites newcomers to showcase their work around town for about eight weeks. The next is in 2020.

Fête de la Musique

Summer starts with good vibrations thanks to hundreds of free concerts during this global music festival (www.fetedelamusique.de) that started in Paris in 1982. Held each year on 21 June (solstice).

48 Hours Neukölln

For one long weekend Neukölln's multicultural denizens transform shops, courtyards, parks, churches, pavements, galleries, bars and other spaces into an offbeat contemporary art and culture showcase (www.48-stunden-neukoelln.de).

July

Hot summer days send Berliners scurrying to the lakes in town or the surrounding countryside. Gourmets rejoice in the bounty of fresh local produce in the markets. Expect long lines at main sights and attractions.

Classic Open Air Festival

Five nights, five alfresco concerts – from opera to pop – delight an adoring crowd hunkered on bleachers before the palatial backdrop of the Konzerthaus (www.classicopenair.de) on Gendarmenmarkt.

Wassermusik

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt makes waves with this popular series of water-themed concerts (www.hkw.de/wassermusik) held on its roof terrace and combined with related events like markets and movies.

Christopher Street Day

No matter what your sexual persuasion, come out and paint the town pink at this huge pride parade featuring floats often decorated with queer political statements and filled with naked torsos writhing to techno beats.

Berlin Fashion Week

Local and international designers present next year’s spring fashions during the summer edition of Berlin’s fashion fair with an emphasis on sustainable fashion (www.fashion-week-berlin.com).

August

More outdoor fun than you can handle with concerts in parks, daytime clubbing, languid boat rides, beach-bar partying, lake swimming and a huge beer festival.

Berliner Bierfestival

Who needs Oktoberfest when you can have the ‘world’s longest beer garden’ (www.bierfestival-berlin.de)? As the bands play on, pick your poison from some 350 breweries representing 90 countries with over 2400 beers along 2.2km of Karl-Marx-Allee.

Holi Festival of Colours

Since 2012 the Holi Festival tour (www.holifestival.com) has made a stop in Berlin. Join in the custom of throwing colourful powder (gulal) into the sky and onto each other while dancing for hours to bands and DJs.

Tanz im August

Step out gracefully to this three-week dance festival (www.tanzimaugust.de), which trains the spotlight on loose-limbed talent and highly experimental choreography from around the globe.

Lange Nacht der Museen

Culture meets entertainment during the Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of the Museums; www.lange-nacht-der-museen.de) when around 80 museums welcome visitors between 6pm and 2am.

Zug der Liebe

Nonprofit parade with floats and music to demonstrate in favour of love, community and equality and against populism, gentrification and other hot topics.

September

Kids are back in school but there's still plenty of partying to be done and often fine weather to enjoy. As days get shorter, the new theatre, concert and opera season begins.

Berlin Art Week

This contemporary art fair (www.berlinartweek.de) combines art exhibits, fairs and awards with talks, film and tours. It also provides a chance to see private collections, project spaces and artist studios.

Berlin Marathon

Sweat it out with over 40,000 other runners or just cheer ’em on during Germany’s biggest street race, which has seen nine world records set since the first race in 1974.

Musikfest Berlin

World-renowned orchestras, choirs, conductors and soloists come together for 21 days of concerts (www.berlinerfestspiele.de) at the Philharmonie and other venues.

October

It's getting nippy again and trees start shedding their summer coats, but Berlin keeps a bright disposition, and not only during the Festival of Lights.

Festival of Lights

For 10 days Berlin is all about ‘lightseeing’ during this shimmering festival (www.festival-of-lights.de) when historic landmarks such as the Fernsehturm (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 (www.pornfilmfestivalberlin.de) brings alternative skin flicks out of the smut corner and onto the big screen.

Tag der deutschen Einheit

Raise a toast to reunification on 3 October, the German national holiday celebrated with street parties across town – from the Brandenburg Gate to the Rotes Rathaus (town hall).

November

A great time to visit if you don't like crowds and are keen on snapping up hotel bargains. Weather-wise it's not the prettiest of months, but don't let that darken your mood.

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.

December

Days are short and cold but the mood is festive, thanks to dressed-up shop windows, illuminated streets and facades, and Christmas markets redolent with the aroma of roast almonds and mulled wine.

Christmas Markets

Pick up shimmering ornaments or indulge in mulled wine at dozens of Yuletide markets held throughout the city.

Nikolaus

On the night before St Nicholas’ Day (6 December) children leave their shoes outside their door to receive sweets if they’ve been nice, or a stone if they’ve been naughty; eventually this developed into Santa’s international rounds. Germans are pretty attached to the original – all kinds of clubs hold Nikolaus parties, complete with costumed St Nicks.

Silvester

New Year's Eve is the time to hug strangers, coo at fireworks, guzzle bubbly straight from the bottle and generally misbehave. The biggest public bash is at the Brandenburg Gate.

May Day

May Day demonstrations used to be riotous affairs with heavily armed police and leftist groups facing off in Kreuzberg, complete with flying stones and burning cars. Although an official 'Revolutionary May Day' demonstration still draws as many as 15,000 anticapitalist, antifascist protesters, it's been completely peaceful in recent years. This is due partly to an enormous police presence, and partly to the alternative, largely apolitical Myfest, held in Kreuzberg since 2003. It runs from noon to midnight. The actual Revolutionary May Day demonstration starts at 6pm at Lausitzer Platz.