Life in Berlin

 

Welcome to Berlin. This is where one of the most diverse and welcoming music scenes in the world unites with endless creativity and possibilities for collaboration. Ask a local what Berlin is like and they’ll say it’s experimental, creative and always accepting.

It may be where the techno scene seeped from the underground scene to the mainstream, but every music genre imaginable pulses, lives and breathes here today. Berlin is a city that’s constantly awake and has no curfew – and where your creative imagination can run free. It’s where the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave let their creativity soar.

Living in Berlin is the perfect way to see history and the present coexisting alongside one another. Old and new buildings stand side-by-side, and abandoned shells (such as the Old Spy Station) are visible only metres away from the city’s bustling hubs. 

Wander around Berlin and you won’t be able to take five paces without seeing some world-famous street art. Arguably the street art capital of Europe, Berlin presents countless opportunities to see works by some of the finest graffiti artists of our time. 

But, don’t just take our word for it. Hear from Esther Eden, our third-year Songwriting student, and her six reasons why she loves Berlin.

Astra Kulturhaus
Revaler Street

Located near our college, Astra Kulturhaus is difficult to beat when it comes to live concerts. There’s something to suit all tastes – from local Berlin music to Karrera Klub’s alternative nights and its famous indie gigs.

Haubentaucher
Revaler Street

Also really close to our House of Music college, this venue is perfect for those warm summer months. There’s a pool you can lounge beside and Open Sky yoga classes for all levels. Chill out and relax.

Cassiopeia
Revaler Street

Every genre and type of music event imaginable takes place in this former industrial hall (and where we have our End of Term gigs). When hardcore bands and hip hop collectives aren’t on stage here, Cassiopeia also moonlights as a nightclub.

Greenhouse
Gottlieb-Dunkel-Straße

This huge artists’ residence is where music comes alive. Electrifying jam sessions take place here every Monday, and Urban Base After Sunset open mic nights on Wednesdays. Events often run until dawn, especially when Berlin’s best DJs are in the house.

Klunkerkranich
Karl-Marx-Straße

Head to this rooftop gig venue for the incredible, ‘gram-worthy panoramas alone. Trust us; this is THE place to head to on summer evenings.

If street art is your thing, things don’t come much better (or bigger) than the East Side Gallery – it’s only the longest stretch of street art in Europe! It’s also steeped with history as it’s the former section of the Berlin Wall.


“I love the energy here, the free vibe, the creativity, the people, the graffiti, the rawness, the yellow u-Bahn trains, and my favourite bar Kiki Sol… but most of all I love the comfortable feeling of ‘home’ that this city gives me.”
Janne Timmer, Songwriting

Berlin boasts such a vibrant music scene – and has done for decades. It’s partly down to Berliners mixing music with activism and their restless spirit always being ahead of the crowd. 

It has absolutely hundreds of live music venues. See ornate concerts in Berlin, smaller bands in basements (or even under the U-Bahn rails) and catch larger touring acts at the likes of Columbiahalle or Tempodrom

Its music scene is a hive of activity and keeps going all day and all night. Whether you’re looking for a techno rave, a three-day party in an adult play park, an underground punk gig or a fantastic record store, the German capital has you covered on all accounts.


“It’s a big city, but it’s the perfect place to make connections in the business and start different projects, especially if you want to start a career in the music industry. People are open-minded and from all over the world. There’s always something happening...Berlin just has a little bit of something for everyone.”
Chloé Astruc, Music Business

Nightlife

Berlin comes alive at night and keeps on going for days. Of course, techno and clubbing are what this city is famous for around the globe, with clubs in Berlin like Tresor, ://about blank, KitkatClub and Salon zur wilden Renate leading the way. They all stem from the raves that brought Berlin together during the end of the Cold War. Through music, Berliners unified and shaped a future out of its pained past.

The world-famous nightclub, Berghain is located in Berlin and draws internationally renowned electronic artists to its stages. It has one of the most unpredictable and strictest door policies of any club on the planet. However, once you’re inside, you will find incredible music and the diverse crowd that this club is known for.

Open Mic Nights

Open mic nights are a big thing in Berlin. They’re perfect for watching up-and-coming talent or taking to the stage yourself. And the best part? There’s genuinely one going on somewhere every night of the week.

Our favourite Berlin open mic nights include:

  • Monday: arcanoa. Known locally as ‘die Bar mit dem Fluss im Tresen’, this is one of the most beautiful bars in the city. There’s a unique warmth and community here, so make sure you add this to your open mic night list.
  • Tuesday: Lagari. This cosy bar has friendly staff, lovely regulars and American-style pancakes. What more could you want
  • Wednesday: Laksmi Bar. Open mic nights here are renowned. You’ll hear performers from all genres and all ages. Make sure you get there early (before 8.30 pm) as slots fill up super fast (and are often booked through to 1 am).
  • Thursday: Zanjabil. Organised in partnership with Kulturgarage Tempelhof (an artistic collective celebrating intercultural identity), the open mic nights here are popular, niche and always fun.
  • Friday: Flop. Always lively, Flop open mic nights have a supportive audience to cheer you on. They’re also open until 5 am if you want to celebrate your performance into the early hours.
  • Saturday: Cafe Stadtkind. This Portuguese-style bar is perfect for heading to if you’re after a bit of sunshine in your life.
  • Sunday: Madame Claude. A former brothel, this bar is now weird and wonderful with a relaxed atmosphere. Entry is by donation (€1-€3).

 

We also have our monthly Lamplight Sessions. Join fellow music-lovers and showcase your work in a super relaxed environment. If you’d rather sit back and soak things up, then the free entry makes it a breeze to come and watch. While we’ve previously hosted these sessions across various Berlin music venues around the city, The Lamplight Sessions are now hosted in-house at our House of Music café.

Berlin Festivals

 

Berlin Midsommar
June

This may be a Scandinavian vegan festival, but it’s also the perfect festival for listening to incredible acts like Cyber, Adna and Blondage. BIMM graduate Anna Jóna Dungal played a large part in organising the event, taking on the role of Production Manager for the sixth edition of Berlin’s favourite urban summer festival. Plus, Berlin Midsommar is just around the corner from our college! What better way is there to celebrate the longest day of the year?

Lollapalooza Berlin
September

The XX, Foo Fighters, London Grammar...Yes, Lollapalooza attracts the best of the best to Berlin, along with around 70,000 festival-goers per day. This is one of the best festivals of the year and tickets tend to sell out fairly quickly. Trust us; this is one you do not want to miss out on.

Whatever your food of choice, Berlin is sure to deliver. A definite favourite of ours is Chipi Chipi Bombon that serves insane ice cream, gelato and hot chocolate. Oh, and it’s only a stone’s throw away from House of Music. Trust us, whatever your sweet craving, this place has you covered. 

On those days you really miss your mum’s Sunday roast, head to Salt ‘n’ Bone. They serve up incredible traditional Sunday roasts like beef with Yorkshire pudding, braised lamb shank and pork belly so you can have your UK foodie fix. 

If you’re after yummy vegan food, then Berlin’s got your back with delicious vegan doughnuts, vegan doner kebabs and more. Take a look at some of our favourites below:

  • 1990 – A vegan restaurant that serves delicious classic Vietnamese dishes with a twist: tapas-style
  • Brammaibal’s Donuts – A mouthwatering range of vegan doughnuts
  • Liquid Garden – THE place to go for scrummy green smoothies
  • Voner – On a busy schedule and after a quick bite to eat? Voner have excellent vegan wraps and kebabs to keep you going


If you’re after a spot to drink, Cassiopeia Beer Garden is right near House of Music (handy!). You can catch BIMM Berlin’s finest performing here while grabbing a drink and a burger. And that’s not all. There’s also a climbing wall and outdoor cinema (the ideal summer evening plan). There’s also an adjacent nightclub if you don’t want to head home early.

A short stroll from our college is Boxhagener Platz Market: a Sunday-only flea market. If you’re after something weird and wonderful, you’re sure to find it here. There are record players, vintage clothes, rare books and odd bits and bobs aplenty. 

Knock yourself thrift shopping at the Dandy Horse. Located by Gorlitzer Park in Kreuzberg, it features s a vinyl warehouse, a furniture store and rails upon rails of vintage clothing.

Pop-up space for independent retailers can be found at Bikini Berlin on Breitscheidplatz. This makes it ideal for shopping around small boutiques and concept stores. And if you’re after something more mainstream, head to the largest department store on mainland Europe: Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe) on Tauentzienstraße in Schöneberg.

There’s also plenty of nature and green spaces available if concrete buildings aren’t your thing.

Explore Tempelhofer Feld, for example. Once an airport, it’s now a beautiful public park – and a great place to cycle because of the flat runways. There are also parks like Treptower Park, Volkspark Friedrichshain and Hassenheide. Most Berlin parks have ping pong tables too, for an added bonus. 

Of course, we couldn’t forget Grunewald forest. On the outskirts of West Berlin, this forest has something for everyone amongst its 3,000-hectare surface area. This peaceful forest makes the perfect day trip. You can soak up nature, go mountain biking, or simply sit back and relax next to its lakes. 

The main way to get around Berlin is via its network of trains/subways (known as S-Bahn and U-Bahn), trams and buses. The city is also split into three different zones: A, B and C. 

Bike

It’s believed that Berlin has almost 2.5 million bikes! Cycle lanes are everywhere in Berlin, and there is little better than grabbing you bike and riding through Berlin in the sunshine. It’s also worth cycling the Mauerweg: a circular trail that traces where the Berlin Wall once stood.

It also has Fahrradstraßen (cycle streets), where bikes have priority.

Bus

Berlin’s bus systems head all over the city, with some lines running every 10 minutes with a 24-hour bus service.

Taxi

There are more than 7,000 taxis in Berlin, all identifiable by their beige colouring. It’s worth knowing that Berlin taxis have a special low fare (five euros) for distances of less than two kilometres. Just tell the driver you want to pay a ‘Kurzstrecke’. There’s also good old Uber.

Train

Berlin’s main transport system is the U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (light rail). They’re reliable, easy to use and a super quick way to zip around the city. They also run through the night on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays, with the U-Bahn lines running every 15 minutes.

Hauptbahnhof is the central train station in Berlin and connects you to the other major cities in Germany. However, it’s worth noting that it’s better to take the U-Bahn or S-Bahn lines if they run parallel to the train lines as they have more stops. Plus, they’re more frequent.

Plane

Berlin’s main airports are Tegel in north-west Berlin and Schonefeld outside of Berlin. There’s also the Berlin Brandenburg airport, but it’s currently under construction.

Any Questions?

For any questions regarding Berlin student life or if you’d like more information on how to apply to BIMM Institute Berlin please contact our Admissions Team on +49 (0)30 311 99 186 or email [email protected].

 

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British and Irish Modern Music Institute