This post is also available in: Dutch

Latest update: 19 May 2023

Inimitable German rap, loud guitars, string quartets, sweet-voiced girls, many indie bands, and more. The Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg is all over the place, and I love it!

What is the Reeperbahn Festival?

Every year in September, the famous and infamous Reeperbahn turns into a festival site. For four days and nights, you can discover hundreds of bands and artists in various clubs, pubs, shops, and even churches in and around the Reeperbahn. I was there in 2019, and now, after the pandemic, the Reeperbahn Festival is back in full force. I loved it, but geez… so much FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

The Reeperbahn Festival occurs in the middle of the city, particularly in the St Pauli district, just in between everyday life. The concerts can only be visited with a festival wristband, but everyone can wander the area. The Spielbudenplatz is the epicenter of the festival on the Reeperbahn. It has a few smaller stages and eateries. There is also a Festival Village, but I only went there to pick up my wristband – I even got a press wristband with fast-track access. So chill! It makes me feel cool and important when I pass the lines and wave my wristband to the security guards.

In addition to the Reeperbahn Festival music performances, there is also a conference. So you might bump into people from the music industry at this major event in Hamburg. People from record labels, music journalists, and bookers, for example. After all, they are always looking for new talent.

600+ concerts in Hamburg during the Reeperbahn Festival

The music offer at the Reeperbahn Festival is overwhelming, to say the least. It is not for nothing that it is the largest club festival in Europe: more than 600 concerts in 90 locations for tens of thousands of visitors in just four days. It is mainly new, international talent that performs.

Music promoters organize club events to promote their artists. For example, I am in the Molotow at Dutch Music Export listening to Ronde and Jeangu Macrooy. Canada and France show their talent in other clubs. There is something for everyone, and the festival is a unique opportunity to see many clubs from the inside. I even get to go backstage at the Mojo Club and Molotow.

Insider tip: if you buy your ticket early enough, you have the chance to attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie. The acoustics of this concert hall are fantastic. You can hear every note from every seat. Even turning a page sounds crystal clear.

Tip! Want even more music? Read my blog about a music-filled city trip to Hamburg.

Keychange 2.0: women in the music industry

You can listen to music all day, but most of it happens at night. During the day, there are also films, poetry slams, panel discussions, workshops, tours, and exhibitions. For example, the Keychange 2.0 initiative is organizing some panels, films, and an exhibition during the Reeperbahn Festival. All of this is to promote equal treatment within the music industry. Is that needed? Yes! Check out these figures from the initiative:

Source: https://www.reeperbahnfestival.com/en/keychange

I visit the exhibition Whose Jizz is This by Peaches as part of Keychange. But it was exhibited in the Kunstverein museum in Hamburg for a little while after too. I’ll admit it immediately: I had no idea who Peaches was. She is a rather eccentric singer who has put together a unique exhibition. The starting point: a sex toy. This sex toy plays a leading role in every art installation. Expect singing sex toys, squirting sex toys, glowing sex toys… I’m sure it all has a deeper meaning that I just can’t comprehend, but I simply find it entertaining.

Tips to get the most out of the Reeperbahn Festival

  1. Come prepared. There are more than 600 concerts. Excuse me? You read that right: more than 600 concerts in just four days. So seeing everything is an impossible mission. So be sure to check the program of the Reeperbahn Festival in advance and listen to a lot of Spotify to pick your gems.
  2. Be logistically responsible. It is humanly impossible to get from one side of the Reeperbahn to the other within 5 minutes. So also choose your concerts based on location.
  3. Choose 1 or 2 favorites per day. Make sure you see your favorite and keep other artists as “options when it fit.” Then you don’t have to run from location to location, but you have time to get a bratwurst here and a beer there.
  4. Be on time. If you want to see something, make sure you get to the location on time. Full is full. A few bigger names are performing, and those are the crowd-pullers. If you’re late, you might be unable to enter the venue.
  5. Buy Early Bird Tickets. A typically Dutch tip, simply because it saves money. But the first 9,500 ticket holders also get the chance to reserve a concert at the Elbphilharmonie. A unique location! Get your tickets.
  6. Use the Reeperbahn Festival app. It contains the complete program and you will receive helpful notifications. For example, you get a message if your favorite artist is about to start, if there is a program change, or if a concert is full.
  7. Be open to surprises! Occasionally hop into a club without knowing what is going on. Who knows, you might make a really cool new discovery.

Want more Germany inspiration?

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Hamburg Marketing invited me to the Reeperbahn Festival. What I write about it, is entirely up to me. I visited the festival in 2019, I’ve updated the article since.

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