Lucy and Bron’s Big Berlin Festival Guide

by James Glazebrook

Want to go to a Berlin festival, but don’t know which one? Never fear, because Lucy of Lucy vs. the Globe / Sexpat and the City fame has teamed up with her partner in crime, fellow Aussie “ripper” Bron, to explain which of the festivals in and around Berlin will meet your particular party requirements. Fill a colostomy bag with vodka, pack some toilet rolls, and get your head around Lucy and Bron’s Big Berlin Festival Guide! 

Lucy and Bron do Berlin festivals

MELT! (SOLD OUT) – out of Berlin but not that far.
19 – 21 July

We pretty much classify Melt! as a Berlin festival, even though it is out in Gräfenhainichen, about an hour from the city. The line-up this year is MASSIVE. I don’t care if you do or don’t vibe camping and seeing music – this is a big one. Frankly,  I’m most looking forward to Mt. Kimbie, DIIV, , James Blake, DJ Koze and like a 1000 others. Seriously, the list is like band after band after band that I want to see. Bron and I will be there – come find us, say hi – we can drink cheap vodka and get around terrible festival food! Shit’s JUST sold out, so if you get the feelings for a good bit of camping and disco hit up Craigslist/ebay Kleinanzeigen…
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BERLIN ATONAL
25 – 31 July

This one has special moments written all over it, as the legendary Berlin Atonal festival returns after a 23 year shut-eye. First kicking off in 1982 in then West Berlin, organised by Dimitri Hegemann (Herr. Tresor), this pioneering event will now take place in the suitably dramatic setting of an abandoned power plant, Kraftwerk Berlin. Living up to its legacy of unique performances the 2013 edition will feature the likes of (deep breath)…. techno godfather Juan Atkins alongside Basic Channel’s Moritz von Oswald, John Hassel, Brandt Brauer Frick, Francesco Tristano, Voices from the Lake (Donato Dozzy and Neel), Vladislav Delay, Kanding Ray, Raime, Kassem Mosse, Actress, Vatican Shadow and even more. In short – see something special in a killer setting.
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Kraftwerk Berlin

GREENVILLE – out of Berlin but not that far
26 – 28 July

A musical mixed bag with a target audience I can’t quite figure out, Greenville is your least dancey of all these flavours. From Wu-Tang Clan to the Bloodhound Gang (?!), this is one that will keep you guessing for its full three day run. The big draw card for us? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – we just wanna see the great man sing “Into My Arms” and hold a stranger really fucking tightly ’til we cut off their blood circulation. It all happens out at Brandenburg – to be honest, it’s not really our thing… but maybe it’s yours?
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DOCKVILLE – out of Berlin but not that far.
16-18 August

I find it slightly difficult to understand all the nuances of this month-long (?) festival in Hamburg, as their info is mostly in Deutsch, which I don’t speak. BUT the black and white is that they are bringing art to an open forum, for artists to come together and contribute to an open air gallery to the masses. Dockville comes to a head on the weekend of 16-18 August with live music, drinks and probably a lot of mud – as shit’s held in a slightly underdeveloped area of Hamburg, which, God only knows, isn’t exactly blessed with the best weather. There are actually HEAPS of really cool acts going to Dockville, like MS MR, T.E.E.D., Crystal Fighters, When Saints Go Machine, and like really – HEAPS MORE. It’s worth the train ride, and a night in a hotel. I mean – who doesn’t like a cheeky weekender?
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NATION OF GONDWANA – out of Berlin but not that far.
20 – 21 July

A non-stop house and techno See-side love-in with a strong waft of escapism in the air, this Grünefeld outlier is best suited to those with a bucketload of stamina. Having run since the late 2000s, this part-time paradise has built up quite a following with a slew of regulars returning year after year. The festivities really kick off Saturday afternoon, with headliners usually taking to the main stage around midday Sunday. This smaller scale, mostly Deutsch affair is appealing, with this year’s line-up including Beda, Gerd Janson. Der Dritte Raum (live), Joel Mull, Cari Lekebusch, Alex.Do, Monika Kruse, Dominik Eulberg, Mano Le Tough, Sven Dohse, a lake, swimming, camping, market stalls and 40 hours of a fucking good time.
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Nation of Gondwana

AEROPHILIA – out of Berlin but not that far.
2 – 5 August

With its former mining site vastness and sweet beats around a lake vibe, it’s hard to avoid a few Melt! comparisons here. Hell, Aerophilia even has a big old conveyor bridge (11,000 Tonnen Stahl yo!). But what it lacks in Melt!-esque musical variety, Aerophilia promises to make up for in a smaller-scale carefully-selected (mostly) house affair. Berlin label Kallius are inviting a solid list of names to their debut event, with draws including Motor City Drum Ensemble, Amine Edge, Mano le Tough, Move D, Dapayk Solo (live) and Kink (live, and also my favourite Bulgarian!). It’s all very manageable, with a local flavour – and if it really kicks off, you’ve got debut-year bragging rights. Huzzah.
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TORSTRASSEN FESTIVAL
31 August

OK – so the cool thing about Torstrassen, is that it’s so local it’s almost sickening. It’s right around the corner, the tickets are cheap as chips, and you have access to some really cool acts like Iberia, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Millennium Millennium and more popping up all over Mitte.
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BERLIN MUSIC WEEK
4 – 8 September

Berlin Music Week is the week in Berlin when it’s like 100% music, and nothing much else. It’s kind of like when Fashion Week happens, and everyone is all of a sudden interested in fashion. This year it seems that the official Music Week activities have pretty much been curated by Melt! which I can’t figure out if I love or hate. But what is cool is that you have all sorts of little loosely-affiliated showcases popping up all over the city, that are running with the Music Week theme, beating to the sound of their own drum. There is literally tonnes going on here – so just pencil it and watch the Internet around this time.
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OUR / BERLIN MUSIC WEEK
4 – 6 September

OK – so this is literally for everyone because it’s sporting a few things:

  1. 3 days of Scandinavian ONLY music
  2. 3 days of beautiful (Nordic) people
  3. Good vodka.

This one is proudly brought to you by Our / Berlin Vodka and the turtle doves over at Nordic by Nature. Running in conjunction with Berlin Music Week, this will be a nice off-the-beaten-path retreat. No acts are confirmed yet – but what I know? Five acts a day, for three days straight. PURE BLISS.
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BERLIN FESTIVAL
6 – 7  September

Berlin Festival is the pillar of Music Week, wrapping everything up over the weekend with all sorts of varied acts. To be honest, looking through the list, it’s a kind of weird, but lovely, group. From SOHN to Hoodie Allen to My Bloody Valentine to Pantha du Prince – the acts somehow all make sense, but absolutely don’t, all at the same time. It’s going down at Templehof, so if the weather is banging summer vibes, there won’t be a better place to be. I mean – who actually doesn’t love to consume music at an old abandoned airport?
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Berlin Festival

BERLIN MUSIC DAYS
6 – 10 November

This is kind of a long way off, but what you are going to find at BerMuda is four days of alles electronic music with workshop and industry shiz by day, and club takeovers by night. The week culminates in a heavy hitting bash at Flughafen Templehof – Fly Bermuda, with a number of local faves returning year after year to annihilate those airport hangers. This year’s program for both the week and Fly Bermuda are still TBA…. but what you can expect…? Lots of homegrown electronic flavour.
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