Your Guide to May Day in Berlin
While most of Europe celebrates May 1st as Labour Day, the date represents something particularly special in Berlin. The public holiday marks an explosion of demonstrations of the political left against the police in 1987. Today, it’s remembered with parties, open air raves, and demonstrations.
May Day might not be on your radar for Berlin ‘festivals’, but it certainly qualifies as one! So if you happen to find yourself in Berlin on May 1st, you know you’re in for a party. The events are mostly in the Kreuzberg district, and are exactly what you expect of Berlin. The streets come alive, and you’ll want to be part of the celebrations. Read on for more about May Day in Berlin!
A Brief History
Initially, May Day was a peaceful public holiday which stood to defend and celebrate fair labour conditions. However, in 1987, tensions quickly rose between the political left and the police. And on May 1st of that year, riots broke out between police and the left in Kreuzberg. The riots forced police out, and Kreuzberg became a hotspot for anti-fascism and the political left.
Initiatives were introduced in the early 2000s in order to relax tensions, and this became known as MyFest. MyFest turned May 1st into a public gathering of street food vendors, speeches, live music and DJ’s. The celebration is now a balanced mix of music, entertainment, and political speeches. The event specifically acknowledges current social issues in Berlin, such as rent prices and gentrification.
Where to Celebrate May Day in Berlin
The majority of the celebrations happen in Berlin’s Kreuzberg, but the entire city marks the day. Because it’s a public holiday, keep in mind that shops and supermarkets are closed. However, restaurants, clubs and kiosks are open, so you’ll have plenty of places to party! If you need something from the supermarket, you can go to either Ostbahnhof or Hauotbahnhof. And while May 1st is the actual holiday, the party usually starts the night before on April 30th with events and parties all over the city.
If you’re an early bird and want to celebrate by bike, we suggest heading Hackescher Markt at 9am and joining the locals in a ride to Brandenburg Gate. It’s a popular demonstration and a great way to get some exercise in before the day’s festivities.
As for the events in Kreuzberg, we recommend heading to MyFest which happens between the U Bahn stations Kottbusser Tor & Görlitzer Bahnhof. It’s an all day street party with live DJs, food vendors, and an incredible atmosphere you’ll want to be part of. If you want to participate in a demonstration, we suggest you head to Wismarplatz in Friedrichshain at 6pm and get ready to march! It ends at Oberbaumbrücke, which leads directly to Kreuzberg where you can join MyFest!
And if you’re not into crowds, or need a break from it, that’s okay. While the whole city does celebrate the holiday, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find huge crowds and street parties everywhere. As long as you avoid the areas of Mitte, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg, you won’t be in the midst of the parties.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Berlin is home to lots of different kinds of neighbourhoods, but our favourite is Friedrichshain in East Berlin. Book accommodation at Sunflower Hostel, minutes away from the Berlin Wall and tons fo great Berlin clubs. It’s also extremely well located for all the May Day events in the city!
Your Guide to May Day in Berlin
Berlin has a reputation as a party city, so it should come as no surprise that the holiday is treated as a giant street party. Get to know the essence of this historical city and enjoy the celebrations on May Day in Berlin! If you need more information to help you plan your vacation, click here for a range of helpful tips, city guides, food guides, and more. For all the latest news at Famous Hostels, follow us or subscribe on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.