Taking ten years to complete and costing more than ten times its original estimate, Hamburg’s £700million Elbphilharmonie has more than made up for the costly wait and in just 20 months has seen 1.5million music fans grace its two huge concert halls to take in everything from classical to jazz and pop.
The new season at the glittering venue kicks off this Sunday with a schedule of more than 700 events for an anticipated audience of 900,000. Alongside orchestral performances from some of the world’s most talented ensembles, including the philharmonic orchestras of Vienna, Berlin and Munich, standout shows include Ensemble Resonanz — a chamber orchestra known for its knockout vocalists — and the Made In Hamburg series that celebrates the future of local talent. Tickets start from £20, elbphilharmonie.de/en.
A sleazy delight
Hamburg’s Reeperbahn street in the lively St Pauli district is a 3,000ft, slightly sleazy strip of live music, bars and dancing where The Beatles (pictured below) launched their career in 1960. It’s such a respected musical mecca that it now has its own eponymous festival, which takes place this year from September 19-22 (£32, reeperbahnfestival.com).
The Reeperbahn Festival is Europe’s largest multi-venue gig and ranks among the world’s top five events in the digital music scene. A showcase for emerging artists and the chance to delve into the minds of some of the music scene’s most influential decision-makers, this year’s event includes angsty indie trio A Tale Of Golden Keys and electro/hip-hop DJ BLVTH, while speakers such as Sonja Eismann from Missy Magazine will give listeners a lowdown of ten years at the helm of Germany’s pop, politics and feminism bible.
Dive into Hamburg’s established scene and you’ll find yourself on the most aurally diverse bar crawl of your life. It’s best to start with a few jars at Altes Madchen (en.altes-maedchen.com), a sprawling brewhouse at the forefront of the city’s craft beer revolution. Then make your way to The Cotton Club (tickets from £8, cotton-club.de), the city’s oldest jazz club, before heading harbourside for night-time beach vibes — sand, palm fronds and disco DJs are included at StrandPauli (strandpauli.de).
Hit your peak at Hamburg techno institution Fundbureau, which also holds a suitably surreal after-dark flea market (fundbureau.de), before ending your night at the Hong Kong Hotel bar, a grungy, good-time dive (facebook.com/HongKongHotel). If you don’t want to lay your head at the scene of your last crime, book the Astra Rockstarsuite at St Pauli’s Superbude hostel (from £59, superbude.de).