Demonstrations on Berlin's 1st of May Event
Known as May Day or Labor day, the 1st of May is an International Public Holiday. In Berlin it has become particularly significant due to it being the centre of the political demonstrations in Germany.
In 1987 these demonstrations became riots, with huge police presence that were repeated yearly in the area of Kreuzberg, often starting the night of the 30th. In the early 2000s in order to de-escalate the violent situation that was occuring every year, initiatives to relax the atmosphere were introduced, that became known as MyFest (my celebration). This turned the 1st of May into a big, public gathering of street food, speeches, live music and dj’s – an open air festival, that captured an entire city district. This is now a great success, though critics claim that the original political ideas of the protests have been lost and the event had become too commercial, with locals complaining about the noise, the garbage and the overcrowdedness.
This year, in response to the criticism, changes are being made to take into account the local citizens, and to place more emphasis on the original political meaning of the day. There will be a more balanced mix of music, entertainment, shows and political speeches, acknowledging Berlin’s recent social issues, including rent prices and the lack of accommodation for locals and those moving to Berlin.
Here’s a few tips to take the most of this big day if you are in Berlin:
– As a public holiday, shops are generally closed. Bars, restaurants, kiosks will be open though, plus a
few supermarkets usually located in the main train-stations (Ostbahnhof and Hauptbahnhof).
– MyFest area usually lies between the underground stops Kottbusser Tor and Görlitzer Bahnhof. You will find stages with live music, street food and locals selling beverages. The purchase of glass bottles is prohibited for security reasons. Over the last years both stops were closed and certain streets could not be entered at certain times in order to decrease the concentration of people in the central areas, such as Oranienstr., the street w/ most stands and
– It might get crowded around Görlitzer Bahnhof and Kottbusser Tor – and with saying that, ATM’s
might get empty, toilets get cews and drinks expensive… So make sure to have enough cash on you,
carry some water and consider the visit of a toilet before getting into the center of attention. Alternatively,
Wiener Str., Spreewaldplatz and Mariannenplatz are good alternatives and also offer a more relaxed
– Want to demonstrate by bike? Join the bike corse at Hackescher Markt at 9 am.
– Demonstrate like a local from Wismarplatz, Friedrichshain at 6 pm. This will end up at
Oberbaumbrücke, that once you have crossed, you will find yourself in Kreuzberg to join the
– Not into walking in groups and screaming slogans? Join the Myfest, try the street food, have a drink
and wander through the set up of music, speeches and whatever you will find interesting.
– Not into masses of people at all? In most other districts you will not even be aware of anything of
this is happening. So just avoid the districts of Mitte, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.
Or come over to Sunflowers Hostel Bar, and let’s celebrate the sweat of our work over a pint