Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

30 Jahre Mauerfall

Thirty years ago, on November 9, 1989, the border opened between East and West Berlin and the world changed forever. In celebration of that monumental event, the German capital is hosting a diverse program of events for history and culture enthusiasts alike.

Physically dividing the city of Berlin for 28 years, the Berlin Wall offers concrete evidence that walls simply don’t work. Thirty years after its fall, we can’t think of a better reason to celebrate!

Here are our picks for the top 10 ways to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

1. Learn About the History of that most famous border wall at the Berlin Wall Memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial traces the history of this most famous border wall. A permanent exhibition presents an overview of why the wall went up, why it stood for 29 years, and what events ultimately lead to its fall. The memorial also includes an open-air museum, which features original parts of the wall and a watchtower. 

When: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-6pm

Where: The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer), Bernauer Strasse 111

More info: www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de

2. And while you’re there… add your hand to the Berlin Handshape Project

Out of a longing to “build bridges and not boundaries,” this social art project brings people together to celebrate our common humanity. With a goal to create nearly 11,000 “hand shapes” (one for each day since the fall of the Berlin Wall), the social art project invites people to connect with a stranger, join hands for a moment while holding a small ball of clay, and form a unique sculpture that represents the human connection.

When: Tuesday – Sunday 12:30-5:30pm

Where: Berlin Wall Memorial Documentation Center, Bernauer Str. 111 as well as markets around the city. Get the schedule here: du-hier-in.berlin/kiez-tour

More info: www.visitberlin.de/en/berlin-handshape

Berlin Handshape Project

3. And… add your message to a floating art installation

Los Angeles artist Patrick Shearn makes massive kinetic sculptures. For the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he’s creating a floating art installation comprised of thousands of individual wishes written on ribbons that will dance in the wind high above the Brandenburg Gate. You can submit your message online: https://mauerfall30.berlin/en/messages/ or in person at the Berlin Wall Memorial, Alexanderplatz, and the East Side Gallery.

When: the installation will be on view from November 4 – 10 

Where: Brandenburg Gate

More info: mauerfall30.berlin/en/messages/

4. Take an audio tour through Berlin’s Vietnamese history

In the 1980s East Germany invited guest workers from north Vietnam to come help bolster industry. Today, this group and their descendants makes up a large community, which is mostly centered in Lichtenberg. Learn about the history and present day life of Berlin’s Vietnamese population by taking a walk around Lichtenberg and listening to an archive of recordings produced by artist and theater director Matthias Schönijahn. Entitled “Silent Moves,” this “acoustic archipelago” offers a sonic picture of Vietnamese life from the GDR to the present day.

Where: Various points in Lichtenberg

Download the audio and map here: www.silent-moves.info

5. View paintings of the Berlin Wall by artists from both sides

Everyone has their own perspective on the Berlin Wall. An exhibition at the Berliner Volksbank Art Collection presents works by artists from East and West Berlin. Painted during the time the wall stood as well as just after it fell, these canvases offer a visual display of how local artists perceived the Berlin Wall in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

When: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm ; through December 15, 2019

Where: Kunstforum der Berliner Volksbank, Kaiserdamm 105

Tickets: €4

More Info: kunstforum.berlin/

6. Relive Berlin’s glory days of clubbing

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new kind of energy poured into the city. As artists moved in, bars and clubs sprang up in the most unexpected places. Those heady days of post-wall Berlin are long gone, but the memories live on in the ones who experienced them, as well as the photos they took. “No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989 to Today” documents the club scene of the 1990s and traces its evolution right on through to the present day.

When: Daily 11am-8pm; through November 30, 2019

Where: C/O Berlin, Amerikahaus, Hardenbergstraße 22-24

Tickets: €10

More info: www.co-berlin.org/en/no-photos-dance-floor

7. Get a unique view on four decades of history

From 1968 to 2011, photographer Helga Paris documented life in the GDR and beyond. In celebration of this glorious oeuvre, the Academy of Arts is presenting over 275 of Paris’ works in a retrospective that includes many pieces on view for the very first time. From everyday life in her Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood to photographs from trips to Transylvania, Georgia, and Poland, the exhibition offers a fascinating view of over four decades of history.

When: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am-7pm; November 8, 2019 — January 12, 2020

Where: Academy of Arts, Pariser Platz 4

Tickets: €6

More info: www.museumsportal-berlin.de

8. See Patti Smith perform at the Pierre Boulez Saal

The concert sold out within minutes, but show up at the box office an hour before the show and you just might score a ticket. With her longtime guitarist Tony Shanahan, the “Punk Poet Laureate” performs her anarchy-infused rock within the intimate confines of the Pierre Boulez Hall. 

When: Wednesday, November 4, 7:30pm (go 1h in advance to try to get a ticket)

Where: Pierre Boulez Hall, Französische Straße 33d

Tickets: €15-75

More Info: boulezsaal.de

9. Take in a dance show that remembers the GDR dance scene

“Dance in the GDR: What Stays” is a new work by Serbian choreographer Saša Asentić that examines how and if dancers from post-Soviet states still retain remnants of their former style, or if, with societal changes, choreography changes as well. 

When: November 7-10, 7pm

Where: Sophiensaelle, Sophienstraße 18

Tickets: €15

More Info: sophiensaele.com

10. Celebrate the Peaceful Revolution at a week-long festival

In the late 1980s East German activists fed up with their oppressive lifestyles started gaining momentum and what became known as the Peaceful Revolution eventually led to the border opening between East and West Germany. During a week-long festival, Berlin transforms into an open-air stage as seven important sights where the events of the Peaceful Revolution unfolded will host concerts, plays, workshops, and exhibitions that tell the stories of this time. On the November 9, the actual day of opening of the wall, a major concert will take place at the Brandenburg Gate. Later on, late-night revelers can dance the night away at 27 clubs across Berlin.

When: November 4-10

Where: Various sites around Berlin

More Info: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/30th-anniversary-peaceful-revolution-fall-wall