Berlin is well known for its vibrant underground music scene, but the sheer number of venues can be daunting. So is the fact that the city’s trendiest clubs are a constantly moving target — often illegal and opening in an abandoned building or basement for a month, a week or simply a single night.
The Berlin Music Days, or BerMuDa, festival (bermuda-berlin.de) offers an opportunity to discover some of Berlin’s less ephemeral musical hot spots. For four nights, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, thousands of national and international electronic musicians, DJs, promoters and fans from all over the globe come together to party and network in more than 40 of the city’s clubs. By day, they’ll attend exhibitions, workshops and panel discussions about clubbing, innovations in recording technology and the music-promotion business.
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BerMuDa will end with a huge party featuring some of the world’s top dance-music performers, including Sven Väth, Digitalism and Fritz Kalkbrenner, at the Tempelhofer Feld — a new 300-hectare park on the site of the old Tempelhof Airport. Some 70,000 ravers are expected.
Besides BerMuDa, there’s plenty more for the traveling hipster to see in Berlin, of course. Here are five suggestions for things to do in between all those parties.
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Café Anna Blume
On postclubbing mornings, join Berlin’s In crowd for breakfast at Café Anna Blume (cafe-anna-blume.de), a café cum flower shop in Prenzlauer Berg. Turning up late is de rigueur, and Anna Blume obligingly serves breakfast until 5 p.m. There’s a decent range of delicious à la carte items, but the café is loved for its silver, three-tiered breakfast stands. These can be ordered for two ($23) or four ($32) and come loaded with fruit, cheeses, cold meats, salmon, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, free-range eggs, homemade jams and much more. Try to get a table in the large outdoor area, where blankets and heaters are provided on colder days.
First place in Berlin’s ever shifting league table of hipster neighborhoods is currently occupied by Kreuzkölln. Ever since the 1950s-style Ringo café opened its doors a couple of years ago on Sanderstrasse, this compact quarter — between the more established Kreuzberg district and crime-ridden run-down Neukölln — has become home to bars, art galleries, vinyl shops and boutiques. It’s a predominantly Turkish district, but scores of artists and assorted creatives have moved in, attracted by streets like the treelined Maybachufer and its popular market. Rents in the area are a good deal cheaper than they are just across the canal in Kreuzberg, with Kreuzkölln’s graffiti-filled walls evidently lending a fashionable grittiness while keeping gentrification at bay.
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With 175 museums and hundreds of smaller galleries, Berlin is a top fine-art destination. But for an exhilarating change of pace, try one of the city’s boldly experimental art spaces like the Platoon Kunsthalle (kunsthalle.com/berlin). Located in Prenzlauer Berg, this innovative venue has been fashioned from 40 recycled shipping containers and has showcased the work of hundreds of artists, musicians and designers since its opening in 2000. A varied calendar includes everything from edgy fashion shows and music performances to copyright workshops, art happenings and digital-graffiti evenings.
Alte Schönhauser Strasse
Perfect the studied, thrift-shop disorder that is the Berlin hipster look by browsing the clothing stores on Alte Schönhauser Strasse in the Mitte district. This short shopping strip offers a view of the Alexanderplatz television tower, a prominent local landmark, and is lined with an array of boutiques as well as stylish interior-design shops, some of the city’s best shoe stores and trendy hairdressers like Haarwerkstatt (haarwerkstatt.de). Take a break at YamYam (yamyam-berlin.de), a hip Korean eatery where lunch-hour queues testify to the quality of the food within. Or enjoy a spot of people watching over a milchkaffee at Kaffeemitte on the corner of Weinmeisterstrasse (kaffeemitte.de). For sundowners, join the models from the adjacent EQ agency, and their assorted hangers-on, at the Pony Bar (pony-bar.de).
On Saturdays, there is no better place to see and to be seen than the Winterfeldtmarkt (winterfeldt-markt.de) in Schöneberg. Berliners of all kinds love to go to the Winterfeldtmarkt for their weekly grocery shopping, and you can often spot actors, artists and politicians mingling in the crowd. With almost 250 stalls, the market is one of the city’s biggest, yet it’s so popular that despite its size, it’s often a tight squeeze. Designer knickknacks and clothing are on sale, but the big draw is food. Merchants offer culinary specialties from Turkey, Greece and Italy next to stalls selling homemade German delicatessen items and organic produce. It’s no surprise that food writers regularly show up in search of the latest gastronomic trends. The best part: most vendors let you taste before buying.