BERLIN LIGHTS UP
Itineraries for long nights out
On 26 October, Germans will set their clocks back an hour, signaling the unofficial start of winter and many dark months ahead, but also paving the way for a winter of long nights. Berlin is without a doubt the European capital of nightlife: with lax working hours, a public transit network that runs 24 hours on weekends, and no mandated closing hours for bars or clubs, this is an insomniac city that kicks into high gear after the sun sets.
Whether it’s a wild night out on the town you crave, or a quiet evening picking out stars on an inky sky, we’ve put together our best after-dark tips for the whole month.
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
This month, two luminous festivals will be lighting up façades across the city with spectacular, colorful installations: Berlin Leuchtet (www.berlin-leuchtet.de) and Festival of Lights (www.festival-of-lights.de). Every night from 2–19 October, landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berliner Dom, or the Alexanderplatz TV Tower will come alive with bright, impressive projections. To help spectators take in the full breadth of the festival, a wide variety of tours are available by bus, car, boat, horsedrawn carriage, and bike. Special highlights will include the “Lights On” opening event at Potsdamer Platz on 10 October and the “Lumissimo” concerts at the Berliner Dom, taking place on 10 and 11 October only. For this spectacular event, the historic cathedral will shine with colorful, moving installations, while a laser harp and the church organ meet in a duet of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
One thing is for sure: you'll be seeing Berlin in a whole new light.
Once you’re done exploring Berlin’s manmade light show, you might want to check out Mother Nature’s most spectacular light show, too: the solar system and its constellations. The historic Archenhold
Observatory (Alt-Treptow 1, www.sdtb.de) dates back to 1896 and is home to the equally old Treptow Giant Telescope, a monstrosity that is today the longest moveable refracting telescope in the world at 21 meters long. The observatory is open Wednesdays through Sundays with astronomy exhibitions and tours, but the real highlight comes every second and fourth Friday evening of the month, when
visitors can stop by to peer through the giant old telescope and observe stars and other celestial wonders in the night sky.
OUT ON THE TOWN
Let’s face it: Berlin never gets tired of partying. It’s not an exception for a club to keep going from Saturday night until Monday morning – it’s the norm. Gritty clubs like Berghain, Salon zur Wilden
Renate, and ://about blank in particular are known as places where the party (almost) never stops. Bars, too, will often stay open and keep serving until the last unruly guest leaves, which could be with the sunrise. One bar, though, is Berlin’s clear winner in this regard: Bei Schlawinchen (Schönleinstr. 34) is a raucous, 24-hour drinking hole in Kreuzberg that has been open more or less non-stop since 1979. The décor is a charming, cluttered mess of kitsch and memorabilia, the drinks are cheap, and the crowd is perhaps as mixed as any group of people could be, ranging from hipster tourists to university students to hardened neighborhood alcoholics. An experience not for the faint of heart, but a proper Kreuzberg experience nonetheless.
Most restaurant kitchens in Berlin will keep serving food until 10pm, 11pm, or even later. What to do, however, when it’s really late, and your stomach is growling? No need to settle for the questionable kebab place on the corner. Right on busy Kottbusser Tor, in the heart of Kreuzberg’s nightlife district, is Konak
Grill (Reichenberger Str. 10, www.konakgrill. de), keeping its grill fired up until 4am every day. Though it may look like your average Turkish Imbiss snack bar, this spot claims to make the best köfte in Berlin. The delicious spiced meatballs are served stuffed into fresh bread with salad, tomatoes and sauce for just €3.50. Across town is Charlottenburg’s famed
Schwarzes Café (Kantstr. 148, www. schwarzescafe-berlin.de), a relaxed, popular hotspot open 24/7 save for Tuesdays from 3–10am, when it’s time for a thorough cleaning. Whatever the time and whatever you’re craving, the kitchen keeps cooking up tasty meals and snacks while the bar churns out drinks. Just down the street is another great option for late-late-night eating: Aroma (Kantstr. 35), one of Berlin’s
most authentic Chinese restaurants. If it's something Asian you’re craving late at night, stop by until 3am for their homemade Cantonese dim sum dumplings and buns, alongside other specialties.
After dark, the popular belief goes, is when ghosts, ghouls, and spirits come out to play. Experience the hair-raising side of Berlin’s nightlife with a ghostly tour from the people at Bärentour (www.baerentouren. de), who offer two English-language nighttime tours in search of things that go bump in the night. The “Ghostwalk with the Night Watchman” goes on foot through the Nikolaiviertel, Berlin’s very oldest neighborhood, to discover the spooky side of the Berlin of the Middle Ages. Their “Haunted Berlin Ghost Tour” explores medieval sites like churches, ruins, and cemeteries, regaling participants along the way with tales of devilish presences, witches, and a monastery haunted with a limping monk. Several tours offered a week; preregistration mandatory.
One of the "Lumissimo"
Lightship, opening night 2013.
The "little ships"
The Berliner Dom