Tipps and tricks

Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg: Do’s and dont’s for guests

| Lesedauer: 9 Minuten
The Spielbudenplatz is – paired with the nearby „Festival Village“ (Heiligengeistfeld) – one of the most popular hangouts at Reeperbahn Festival.

The Spielbudenplatz is – paired with the nearby „Festival Village“ (Heiligengeistfeld) – one of the most popular hangouts at Reeperbahn Festival.

Foto: Marcelo Hernandez / FUNKE Foto Services

The Reeperbahn Festival starts on September 20. What are the highlights, the do’s and dont’s for four days and nights in Hamburg?

Hamburg.  Sure, the Kiez never sleeps, but the Reeperbahn Festival makes the famous party mile in Hamburg from September 20 to 23 pulsate even more. Between stag parties, guided tours, party people and theater audiences, 50.000 concert fans and 4.000 trade visitors will mix to experience music’s next big stars.

Just like last years’ Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver, Nina Chuba, Jake Bugg, Cro and many more. For all of you who have never experienced the concert marathon or – it is after all still St. Pauli – can no longer remember: Here you can learn everything need to know about Reeperbahn Festival 2023.

Reeperbahn Festival: Who’s playing on stage?

Inspired by the SX/SW Festival in Austin, Texas, the Reeperbahn Festival has been presenting the hottest newcomers and hidden gems of the international music scene since its premiere in 2006. Export offices from the pop scenes of Europe, label giants from Germany to the United States and small indie agencies from all over the world bring over 320 bands to the city, which play on 80 stages in clubs, bars, and theaters.

For the bands it is about presenting themselves to the attending pop industry (which exchanges ideas and visions at over 200 lectures, debates, and networking meetings) for record or distribution deals, tours, and festivals. The festival is often accompanied by spontaneous and secret concerts by well-known names, such as Kraftklub, Muse, Beatsteaks, or James Blunt. Keep your eyes open on social networks and other media.

Reeperbahn Festival: What are the highlights?

Every year, the Reeperbahn Festival features a variety of different program highlights. In addition to performances by established bands and musicians like Pretenders, The Hives, and Arlo Parks, the festival also focuses on the „Wunderkinder – German Music Talent Acts“ showcases on the stages at the Clubhaus St. Pauli (Uwe, Häkken, Bahnhof Pauli) with Brockhoff, Get Jealous, Orbit, and other bands.

In addition, international talents have been competing for the „Anchor Award“ for the best festival newcomer since 2016. The nominees for the 2023 competition are Berq (Germany), Daisy The Great (USA), Hannes (Sweden), Ichiko Aoba (Japan), Paris Paloma (UK), and Waterbaby (Sweden). The „Anchor“ will be awarded by panel of judges including a varietty of famous singers and songwriters: Banks, Tayla Parx, Katie Melua and jury president Tony Visconti, former producer of David Bowie and T-Rex.

Reeperbahn Festivals: Where are the shows?

Performances take place on 80 stages between Nobistor, Millerntor and Feldstraße. Renowned clubs such as Große Freiheit 36, Gruenspan, Molotow, Knust, Mojo Club, Uebel & Gefährlich, Nochtspeicher, as well as the central church St. Michaelis, the Imperial Theatre, Hamburgs famous philharmonic hall „the Elbphilharmonie“, the Resonanzraum, the fanshop of the FC St. Pauli, the Haspa bank branch on the Reeperbahn and the Spielbudenplatz will be part of the festival. The center of the festival is the „Festival Village“ on the Heiligengeistfeld with several stages and exhibition areas, ticket offices and wristband distribution.

Reeperbahn Festival: How about the Elbphilharmonie?

This year, four festival concerts will take place in the Elbphilharmonie: Jeremias and Bruckner on September 22 and Matt Corby and Altin Gün on September 23. For these concerts, ticket buyers had to register in advance (only one concert per viewer was allowed) in order to pick up their hard tickets (free choice of seating) at the ticket office in the Festival Village. Tickets can be picked up at the office on the Heiligengeistfeld on the day of the concert, no later than two hours before the start of the concert. The quotas are currently sold out, whether there are still seats available will be announced by the festival management via the Reeperbahn Festival app.

Reeperbahn Festival: It’s not limited to music

The festival also includes a comprehensive accompanying program from different cultural areas, such as films on September 23 at the cinema 3001 Kino, readings by Twitter star El Hotzo (September 21, Imperial Theatre) and „Pornopositive“ author Paulita Pappel (September 22, Prinzenbar), various parties at Molotow, Mojo Club and Moondoo, and of course the traditional „Flatstock“ poster convention in the Festival Village.

Reeperbahn Festival: Anything to see for free?

Some Reeperbahn Festival events can also be experienced without a festival wristband – free of charge. For example in the hustle and bustle of Spielbudenplatz: at the Spielbude XL as well as at the NJOY Reeperbus, where many bands, including Damona, Area Tiret and Chinchilla will be performing.

Reeperbahn Festival: Expert tipps for first-time visitors

The days of „club hopping,“ when you could go from club to club, listen to listen to three songs here and there and move on if you did not like it, are unfortunately over. It will be getting crowded on hursday and very, very crowded on Friday and Saturday. Therefore it would be helpful to put together your own personal program in advance with the festival app on your smartphone – the festival homepage is unfortunately a disaster this year. Fortunately the app provides relatively good real-time information about admission stops and delays and you can bookmark your favorite performances. But even the best plan usually only lasts until the first admission stop.

The more famous the band and the more popular the club (beware especially the Molotow!), the more illusory the admission. In general, you should arrive at least one hour before the start of a concert at the respective stage. A contingency plan with alternatives like lesser-known bands in less well-known clubs like Uwe and Häkken, can have positive surprises in store.

Reeperbahn Festival: Where are the best parties?

The Kiez never sleeps, did we mention that? St. Pauli, the Schanze, and the surrounding neighorhoods offer a myriad of bars, pubs, and clubs to get the party started. But Hamburg’s hottest techno clubs are not be found there: Südpol, PAL, Waagenbau, and Fundbureau are just a few subway stop away, but Techno and Electro will also be offered within walking distance of the festival area. On September 23 at DOT, Uebel & Gefährlich and the Golden Pudel Club for example. Fans of other musical genres will get their money worth at the Mojo (Soul music), Moondoo (hip-hop) and Molotow (indie music).

Reeperbahn Festival: What are the dont’s?

The Reeperbahn is world famous and infamous not only for Rock’n’Roll, but for sex and drugs. Prostitution is common and legal in some areas of St. Pauli, notably at Davidstraße, Herbertstraße and Hans-Albers-Platz. But be aware: Especially tourists are easy prey for a few crooks in the sexworking scene. They will lure with cheap services but at their „workspace“ prices will triple-double, and in case of any protest, they have their tools and pimps nearby for sufficient „intimidation“. The same goes for some of the table dance bars, where naive guests will be ripped of with fantasy prices like 1500 Euros for a bottle of cheap sparkling wine.

Long story short: Mind the apparently and not-so-apparently tourist traps, always keep an eye out for pickpockets and drunken troublemakers – and don’t carry glasses and glass bottles on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 pm to 6 am: It’s forbidden for safety reasons and will be fined.

Reeperbahn Festival: Where to buy tickets – and how much is the fish?

One-day tickets are available for pre-sale at www.reeperbahnfestival.com for 52,48 Euros (Wednesday) to 75,78 Euros (Saturday). Two-day tickets are available for 104,90 Euros (Friday and Saturday), three-day tickets for 114,16 Euros (Thursday to Saturday), and four-day tickets for 143.74 Euros. Before visiting the shows, tickets must be exchanged for wristbands at the Ticket Desk in the Festival Village on Heiligengeistfeld (Subway station: St. Pauli).