Berlin is so much more than just techno and Trabis, bratwurst and bier. Beneath the surface of stereotypes, diverse cultures make up an intoxicating element that rarely makes it into the guide books.
The first Carnival of Cultures took place in 1995 and was inspired by the world famous parties in Rio and Notting Hill. Like its older cousins the event is as much a statement as a celebration, aimed at promoting cultural understanding, tolerance and respect.
Since those difficult days of political and social upheaval for Berlin’s cultural minorities, the carnival has gone from strength to strength. Last year, for the first time, more than one million people attended the party to carouse in the rich diversity and stand up for an emerging multiculturalism that has been all-too-often overlooked.
The carnival takes place in four distinct but nearby locations in Western Kreuzberg. The Bazaár Berlin stage at Hallesches Tor will feature shows from, among others, Turkish, Israeli, Indian and Japanese performers traversing genres as diverse as rock, hip-hop, electro and blues. The Eurasia area is located on the corner of Zossenerstraße and Blücherstraße and, as the name might suggest, will include acts from across Europe and Asia. For a taste of the sheer variety of performances, the line up includes Transylvanian speedfolk and Balkan ska-drum’n’bass.
The Farafina section will transform the usually mundane car park on Blücherstraße into an exotic oasis of cultural and musical crossover. Organisers promise revellers a journey through Africa where Ghanaian hip-hop meets Berlin street dance and Monday is the Day of the Frontwoman. Finally, the Latinauta stage presents the most familiar carnival sounds, such as samba, rumba, conga and the like. But don’t be fooled! Expect a mishmash of genre-defying musical delights from all four corners of this eccentric and exciting festival. The most exhilarating part, though, is experiencing a city with such a troubled history march noisily and proudly into the future, where many small but vibrant communities have finally found their voice.
The carnival starts at 5pm on the Friday evening until 10pm, then midday to 10pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the daytime there are family-friendly performances and plenty of space and facilities for an original day out. www.karneval-berlin.de
Natalie Holmes writes for the blog at Be-My-Guest.com.
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