CULTURE (2017 | Issue 3)

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German Culture

Culture is all-pervasive. It finds palpable expression in customs, literature, music, art and cuisine. It is present in the books we read, the music we listen to, the food we eat and the buildings we construct. These various strands define a country’s collective character and cultural heritage. What’s Up, Germany? celebrates Germany’s cultural richness.

Germany commands centre stage in Europe, not only geographically, politically and economically, but also culturally. Traditionally, it has been called “Das Land der Dichter und Denker”—the country of poets and thinkers—and for good reason! Great minds that shaped the world, like Kant, Goethe, Hegel, the Grimm brothers, Schiller and Nietzsche, were all born in Germany. And who can forget the Big Bs of classical music: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms! They, too, were German. Whether in the field of literature, music, philosophy, science, art or architecture, Germany has been at the forefront. Many cool inventions originated there, from the printing press to the car, the computer to aspirin.

Today’s Germany comes in delicious new flavours! Its diversity can be seen and experienced everywhere, in high-brow opera houses and underground clubs, in fusion food and computer games. Having assimilated influences from people of various backgrounds, the contemporary German music, cinema, sports, fashion, art and literature scene is dynamic and super exciting. It is a happy celebration of a rich past heritage and present-day plurality.

The sheer variety of cultural facilities in Germany is staggering. Its 16 federal states enjoy wide autonomy and actively promote the arts. Even smaller towns have a vibrant cultural presence they can rightfully be proud of. All kinds of festivals are popular in Germany. Don’t be surprised to see people rushing to get to a rock concert or a book fair. Even when it comes to leisure, punctuality is big for Germans!

Germany: Must Sees, Must Dos

1. Berlin International Film Festival (February)

The Berlinale, the world’s second-largest international film festival, is your ticket to an unforgettable experience. You get to watch the best of world cinema, and the good thing is, unlike Cannes, you can book tickets online. It’s not “by invitation” only!

2. International Dixieland Festival (May)

A major old-time jazz event in Dresden, this festival takes place on the River Elbe. You can look forward to swingin’ performances and brass band parades.

3. Rhine in Flames (May–September)

Imagine watching a dazzling array of fireworks light up castles while boats sail by on the River Rhine. It’s pure magic!

4. Rock am Ring & Rock im Park (June)

These two major rock festivals take place simultaneously over three days. Rock am Ring in Nürburg and Rock im Park in Nuremberg. Artists from various genres perform before 1,60,000 people. Don’t miss out on the action!

5. Carnival of Cultures (June)

This multicultural festival is a showstopper. Over a million people assemble in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district to watch decorated floats, dancers and singers from 70 countries strut their stuff.

6. Munich Opera Festival (June–July)

Held every year at the Bayerische Staatsoper, one of the most spectacular opera houses in the world, you can experience 400 concerts, operas and ballets under one roof! More than 6,00,000 people attend each year, so book way in advance.

7. Rheingau Music Festival (June–September)

With around 170 concerts, this is one of the largest and most happening music festivals in Europe. Though largely classical in nature, it also includes jazz music, cabarets, children’s concerts and wine tastings.

8. Bayreuth Festival (July–August)

Yes, it’s really tough to get tickets and they’re expensive, but if you do manage, it’s so worth it! You’ll get to watch stunning operas composed by Richard Wagner—German high culture at its best!

9. Long Night of Museums (August)

Once a year Berlin’s museums stay open late into the night. Not only can you look at permanent artworks on display, you can also enjoy temporary works of art put up in interesting settings.

10. Festival of Lights (September–October)

Enter a world of magic as you see Berlin’s monuments and landmarks lit up in the most creative ways. The result is absolutely spectacular!