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When expats exhaust all the activities on the usual list of things to see and do in Berlin, they will still have a whole host of annual events and festivals to look forward to.
Regardless of whether expats enjoy culture, film, music or sport, there is sure to be something on Berlin’s calendar to entertain them.
Here is a list of our favourite events and festivals that take place each year in Berlin.
Annual events in Berlin
Berlinale Film Festival (February)
This is Berlin’s major international film festival and takes place each year in February. It is one of the largest film festivals and most reputable movie events on the German calendar. Moviegoers can choose from up to 400 films shown at cinemas across the city, and people flock from all over Europe to attend.
Carnival of Cultures (June)
This annual event is a celebration of Berlin’s ethnic diversity. It is definitely one of the city’s most colourful and vivacious festivals. Here one will find thousands of representatives from over 70 different cultures who get dressed in the national costumes and take to the streets of Kreuzberg. With a number of purpose-built stages playing host to all sorts of eclectic performances, this is an event not be missed.
German-American Festival (August)
This celebration has been in existence since 1961 and serves as a salute to American culture. The festival is based on the idea of an American county fair and includes attractions such as carnival rides, American-style food and a reconstruction of a Wild West town. Visitors are even treated to a rodeo complete with bull wrangling.
Berlin Marathon (September)
Each year in September, around 30,000 runners from across the globe gather at the Schloß Charlottenburg to take part in one of the world’s most prestigious marathon events. Participants run through 10 different districts of Berlin covering the 26-mile (42.2km) distance before crossing the finish line through the historic Brandenburg Gate. Those less enthused about long distance running can cheer on the competitors from the side, perhaps with a cold German beer in hand.
Berlin Oktoberfest (October)
Speaking of beer... This event really requires no introduction. The Berlin version of the Oktoberfest is a celebration of beer and German drinking culture. While Berlin’s Oktoberfest, held at Zentral Festplatz am Kurt-Schumacher-Damm, can’t be compared with the main party in Munich, it's still a fun-filled event and something that expats living in Berlin shouldn't miss.
Jazz Festival Berlin (October)
Since 1964, Jazz Fest Berlin has brought jazz musicians from across the globe to the city. The swinging concerts and great atmosphere across the city are a real treat every October, and for expats partial to jazz, this is unmissable.
Christmas Markets (late November/December)
A German tradition that should not be missed by expats living in Berlin, the Christmas markets are held throughout the city and are inevitably bustling with locals and tourists, all full of Christmas cheer, Glühwein, roasted chestnuts and gingerbread. Eager shoppers will find plenty of traditional decorations and Christmas paraphernalia on sale. The biggest Christmas markets in Berlin are held on Alexanderplatz, Unter den Linden and at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
►To learn more about transport options in the city read the Expat Arrivals page on Getting Around in Berlin.
Are you an expat living in Berlin?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Berlin. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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