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What’s going on this January? Your guide to the first month of the year

The year is off to a busy start! With the British Shorts Film Festival, Transmediale and CTM, plus much more, you won't be bored in Berlin this January.

Don’t miss Uncensored Lilac, Bassam Issa Al-Sabah, 2023 CC BY-NC-SA, showing at Transmediale 24. Courtesy of: Transmediale

January 1

New Year’s Run

Photo: IMAGO / Nordphoto

Time to prove you’re serious about those resolutions you’re probably already regretting. At roughly 4.2 km, the run isn’t too ambitious, so it should be doable no matter the state you find yourself in.

  • Starts and finishes at Brandenburg Gate, January 1st, meet at 12:00, details.

New Year’s Swing

Photo: IMAGO / Future Image

Andrej Hermlin and his Swing Dance Orchestra bring familiar tunes and swinging melodies to the Philharmonie this New Years Day. Soothe yourself with their rousing 1940s style and move your feet to the beloved tunes of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, plus more. A family affair, the orchestra also features Andrej’s children Rachel and David, as well as many other fantastic instrumentalists. You’ll undoubtedly leave with a swing in your step.

  • Philharmonie Berlin – Kammermusiksaal, Herbert-von-Karajan-Str. 1, Tiergarten, January 1st, 15:00, details.

January 2

Open Decks and Table Tennis

Photo: Humboldthain Club Facebook

A staple at Humboldthain, this weekly event is a great starting point for budding DJs. Book one of 18 half hour slots upon arrival and show the crowd what your vinyl collection is made of – all genres welcome. Or just come for a match of table tennis (no paddles needed) and enjoy a drink. 

  • Humboldthain Club, Hochstr. 46, January 2nd, starts 18:00, details.

January 4

My Sweet Love – Gentrification and AIDS in Berlin

Photo: Appolonia Theresa Bitzan, courtesy of VisitBerlin.de

ACT UP activist Sarah Schulman’s book The Gentrification of the Mind, explored how the AIDS epidemic triggered the process of gentrification in New York. This stage version probes the similar effects of AIDS in Berlin, both pre- and post-reunification. A one-off, this performance is borne of a collage of texts, files, newspaper reports and interviews dating from the 1980s to today, and is a powerful must-see. 

  • Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz: Prater Studios, Linienstr. 227, German with English surtitles, January 4th, details.

January 5

Franz Matthews, Vhyce and Bonnie Spacey

Vhyce. Photo: vhycevhyce

Still feeling a bit fragile from New Years? Well it’s time to shake it off, because the “Belgian prince of cosmic dance” is coming to Crack Bellmer, and he’s bringing a couple of friends with him! Bonnie Spacey is the label boss of the revered Critical Monday and her dark disco, along with Franz Matthews’ groovy, spacey offerings, are bound to warm up your January night. 

  • Crack Bellmer, Revaler Str. 99, Friedrichshain, January 5th, doors 21:00, details.

Tanztage

Photo: Sophiensaele / Puca

Berlin’s 33rd Tanztage at Sophiensaele kicks off with a special double bill of the athletic ballroom performance, bodyride, followed by Deva Schubert’s exploration of the significance of dissonance in Glitch Choir. An annual festival that produces and presents the work of Berlin’s best young dance talent, this edition focuses on the concept of ‘disorders’; exploring, among other things, the body in relation to pain in all its forms. 

  • Sophiensaele, Sophienstr. 18, Mitte, January 5th through January 20, details.

Songslam Kreuzberg

Photo: Maximilian Carus / Songslam Kreuzberg Facebook

Six singer-songwriters go head to head and vie for the audience’s attention at one of the city’s most famous clubs. Fancy playing your own original music? You can register via email! Or just come along and enjoy the show, tickets start at 5 euro.

  • Privatclub, Skalitzer Str. 85-86, Kreuzberg, January 5th, doors 19:00, details.

January 6

A Clockwork Orange

Photo: Berliner Ensemble

This stunning new adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian classic was nominated for a Friedrich-Luft Preis for best production last year. Running on limited dates with English surtitles, don’t miss your chance to delve into the world of Drooges and question everything you thought you knew.

  • Berliner Ensemble, Bertolt-Brecht-Platz 1, Mitte, January 6th, 20:00, also with English surtitles on Jan 28, details.

The Romanisches Cafe in Berlin in the 1920s

Europa Center, the location of the former Romantisches Café. Photo: Tanja Dickert, Ahoy! Souvenir factory, courtesy of: Visitberlin.de

This exhibition is dedicated to the legendary Romanisches Café, an important meeting place for the major players of Weimar Era Berlin. Taking place on the grounds of the café’s original location, this exhibition looks at the lives of the Romanisches Café’s famous visitors and the important role that the café and its surroundings played in 1920s Berlin. The exhibition presents everyday objects, photos, texts, film clips and a 3D simulation that all capture the infamous decadence of the period.

  • Europa Center, Tauentzienstr. 9, Charlottenburg, January 6th through June 30th, FREE, details.

Queer betrachtet

Photo: the artists / Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museum zu Berlin / Jacopo La Forgia, courtesy of Visitberlin.de

This tour examines the various queer connections of the Hamburger Bahnhof. Expand your understanding through this opportunity to work against the traditional heteronormative readings that have dominated art history.

  • Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, Invalidenstr. 50/51, Mitte, January 6th through February 3rd, free with cost of admission, details

January 7

Museum Sunday

Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Every first Sunday of the month, many of Berlin’s incredible museums and cultural institutions open their doors for free. Start the year off right with a healthy dose of culture. Click here for our guide to some of the top participating institutions.

  • Various locations, January 7th, details.

From Baroque to The Beatles

Photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

Step into the foyer of the Humboldt Forum and be swept away by members of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin. Playing brass music from three centuries, the musicians will move from the foyer and up the stairs, inviting visitors to follow their sounds. Join whenever, and enjoy music by Frescobaldi, Sammartini and Paul McCartney, plus many more. 

  • Humboldt Forum – Foyer, Schlossplatz, Mitte, January 7th, details.

January 8

Space Oddity: A Tribute to David Bowie

Photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

On what would have been the icon’s 77th birthday, you can experience Bowie’s music while lying under the vast dome of the Planetarium, leaning into the universe of the much-missed Starman. 

  • Zeiss Gross Planetarium, Prenzlauer Allee 80, Prenzlauer Berg, January 8th, 20:00, details.

January 9

Opera on Tap

Photo: prachtwerkberlin and operaontapberlin

No need to splash out on expensive seats at the Staatsoper, when you can get up close and personal at Prachtwerk with their monthly series of opera shows. In January, the theme is ‘Opera Noir’ – be absorbed by the Cluedo-esc plot and enjoy some sprinklings of classic tragedy and operatic seduction too.

  • Prachtwerk, Ganghoferstr. 2, Neukolln, January 9th, doors 19:30, details.

January 10

Yaaas Queen!

Anja Woot. Photo: anja.woot by Laurie Armstrong

This monthly open mic for women and LGBTQ+ comics is the perfect cosy environment to try out that standup script you’ve secretly been working on. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded, open-hearted people to simply laugh and have a drink with.

  • Comedy Club Kookaburra, Schönhauser Allee 184, Prenzlauer Berg, January 10th, 20:30 – 23:00, details.

January 11

Bestseller

Photo: et_berlin and martinkclausen

This performance poses the question: Why is something funny? A piece that straddles the serious and the unserious as two dancers move through the complexities and contradictions of life. 

  • English Theatre Berlin, Fidicinstr. 40, Kreuzberg, 20:00, January 11th through January 13th, details

January 12

Master & Servant 

Photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

The legendary play party is back. Lose yourself in the euphoric combination that is BDSM kink and Depeche Mode records. Underlined by a very special fetish performance, this unique coming together of electro sounds and sensual experimentation is a true example of Berlin’s joyous free spirit. 

  • Insomnia, Alt-Tempelhof 17-19, Tempelhof, January 12th, 22:00, details.

January 13

Kissneyland

Photo: Kissneyland Resident Advisor

Nostalgia is key at this throwback event which celebrates the music of your childhood. Featuring classic Disney tunes plus Nickelodeon theme songs, let’s recapture the carefree joy of youth for one night only at Festsaal Kreuzberg.

  • Festsaal Kreuzberg, Am Flutgraben 2, Kreuzberg, January 13th, 23:00, details.

Hustlers English Comedy with Tera Kilbride & Kat Nip

Tera Kilbride. Photo: secretcomedyclubbarcelona and teracomedy

A chance to see two icons of the Berlin English comedy scene perform in a longer set format. Kilbride originally hails from the USA and likes to tackle topics such as mental health, relationships, and what it’s like being an expat in Berlin. Kat Nip has been called a “polish Joan Rivers” and her fast-paced storytelling, mixed with brutal honesty will certainly keep you on your toes.

  • The Wall Comedy, Grünberger Str. 84, January 13th, 20 – 22:30, details.

Revolution. Thorn in the flesh

Photo: Frank Sperling, courtesy of Humboldt Forum

The Chinese-German Paper Tiger Theater Studio was inspired by the scroll painting in the collection of the Museum of Asian Art and, in this dance video installation performance, draws a line from the Chinese military campaigns and their celebration in the Imperial Palace, to the colonial looting of Beijing’s so-called Boxer War 1900-0, to the China of today. 

  • Humboldt Forum – Foyer, Schlossplatz, Mitte, January 13th through Jan 15th, English with German surtitles, details.

January 14

Introductory Talks

Photo: komischeoperberlin

Just can’t get enough of theatre? This is a great opportunity to peek behind the scenes and hear from the folks involved in the productions at the Komische Opera. Chat everything from costumes to conducting, and if you get there early you can even enjoy a special opera breakfast. 

  • Schillertheater – Foyer, Bismarckstr. 110, Charlottenburg, January 14th, 12:00 – 13:00, details.

Eggschecke for dessert

Photo: Judisches Museum Berlin, Inv: Nr, 2020/90/0, Schenkung von Eva Nickel, Rechteinhaber: Fabrik Wilhelm Jager (Eisenberg / Thuringen)

Food is intricately intertwined with memory. As part of the exhibition Another Country, Jewish in the GDR, the Jewish Museum Berlin and their café Lina invite you to a Sunday brunch that will take you on a journey through time. Including 3 courses plus a tour of the museum, explore this rich story of food across history. Afterwards, you will be invited to round off the experience by sharing stories, recipes and dessert.

  • Jewish Museum, Lindenstr. 14, Kreuzberg, January 14th, from 11:00, details.

January 17

Ultrasound Berlin

Vladimir Jurowski who will be conducting at Ultrasound. Photo: IMAGO / CTK Photo

This festival celebrates contemporary music in its own right. With a packed programme of established ensembles and exciting newcomers, come and enjoy the best and boldest from the contemporary music scene.

  • Various locations, January 17th through January 21st, details.

January 18

Cash n Prizes with Puddles and Sunny

Photo: Volsbuhne am Rosa Luxemburg platz, courtesy of Visit Berlin.

A riotous night of storytelling and musical acts from performance artists Jeremy Wade, aka Puddles the Pelican, and Quentin Tolimieri, aka Sunny the Sea Anemone. Get ready for a campy cruise-ship-style cabaret show billed as a “spooky fag neuroleptic piano bar drag musical plus supplementary cold medicine”. We’re as confused and intrigued as you are.

  • Volksbühne Roter Salon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, January 18th, 20:00 – 22:00, details.

British Shorts Film Festival

Photo: Torsten Elger, courtesy of Britishshorts.de

With its finger on the pulse of UK cinema, this festival showcases 150 short films across all genres. Come and discover the very best of short-form filmmaking coming from Britain right now. 

  • City Kino Wedding, Mullerstr. 74, Wedding & Gretchen, Obentraustr. 19 – 21, Kreuzberg, January 18th through January 24th, details.

January 19

Are Ya Sick of us Yet? 

Buba Sababa. Photo: buba__sababa

During some renovations in 2022, Tipsy Bear found a temporary home at SO36 for three months and loved it so much that they decided to make a comeback for one night of Tipsy-style disco, house music and (of course) drag performances and trans artistry.  

  • SO36, Oranienstr. 190, Kreuzberg, January 19th, 20:00, details.

Grüne Woche

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The gardening, agriculture and food fair is one of the biggest in Germany and offers a number of events, including cooking shows, street food stalls, animal shows and live music. Aiming to create a bridge between tradition and sustainability, this event holds space for everything from ancient agricultural history to current social issues.

  • Messe Berlin, Messedamm 22, Charlottenburg, January 19th through January 28th, details.

January 20

Reading Night on the M8

Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Heinrich

Have you ever been on the M8 and felt a sudden spark of literary inspiration? Turns out you’re not alone. This unique event features readings of texts by 32 different authors at 10 locations along the M8 line, from erotic literature to philosophy.

Beginner’s stroll for the BDSM-curious

Photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

This tour, organised by BDSM Berlin e.V., takes you to four sex shops across the city, introducing you to BDSM toys and accessories. With educational interludes along the way, this stroll offers answers to all those questions you were too afraid to ask.

  • Mehringdamm 79, Kreuzberg, January 20th, free, details.

January 23

Open Varieté-Show

Photo: https://www.dieschroeckleloecks.de/

Family trio Schroeckleloecks are back with the 8th edition of their quarterly cabaret show, featuring the formidable talents of aerial artist Caroline Schroeck, comedian and diablo dabbler Gilles Le Leuch, and their daughter hula hoop artiste Gwenadou. 

  • Ballhaus Wedding, Wriezener Str. 6, Wedding, January 23rd, 20:00, details.

January 24

Dies ist keine Botschaft (Made in Taiwan)

Photo: Stefan Kaegi

Taiwan occupies a challenging space on the world stage – not officially recognised as a state, yet to a large degree still an independent entity. This theatre piece will imagine what it would be like to create an embassy for Taiwan and what form it could take. 

  • Berliner Festspiele, Schaperstr. 24, Charlottenburg, 19:30. January 24th, Jan 26 and 27, details.

January 25

Six Day Berlin

Photo: https://sixday.com/

Bear witness to the sport that the Velodrom was built for, as elite bikers cut through the air on paper-thin wheels. This annual highlight on Berlin’s sports calendar is a mix of sport, show and party and is a must-do for all cycling enthusiasts.

  • Velodrom, Paul-Heyse-Str. 26, Prenzlauer Berg, January 25th through January 27th, details.

January 26

CTM Festival 

Crys Cole. Photo: ctmfestival

“What if ‘sustain’ were a sound?” asks CTM. This experimental music festival doesn’t just play the tunes but critically engages with their meanings and implications. Spanning over a week, it will feature, workshops, performances, installations and much more. A fascinating and infinitely multifaceted experience.

  • Berghain, Radialsystem, OXI, among others, January 26th through February 4, details.

January 27

Alex Nowitz: In the Thicket of the Invisible Wires

Photo: Sebastian Rausch, from nowitz.de

Composer and artist Alex Nowitz manipulates sound with gesture-controlled live electronics in a hypnotising musical performance about the invisibility of vocal cords and digital connections. 

  • Museum FLUXUS+, Schiffbauergasse 4F, Potsdam, January 27th, 19:00, details

Lust

Photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

Don’t miss out on this panel discussion that’s bound to get you a little hot under the collar. Featuring philosopher Jule Govrin and academic Julian K. Glover, this ambitious symposium aims to expand our understanding of sexual and aesthetic pleasure.

  • Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Chausseestr. 128-129, Mitte, January 27th, 12 – 20, details.

Fantasy Filmfest White Nights

Photo: fantasyfilmfest

The fantasy fest is back with its White Nights festival. A scaled-down affair compared to their usual seven-day knees-up, the two-day event focuses on the ‘winter genre’ rather than horror.

  • Zoo Palast, Hardenbergstr. 29A, Charlottenburg, January 27th through Jan 28, details.

January 29th

Mental Voodoo Book Premiere

Photo: Logan February © Silviu Guiman

Precolonial, gender-fluid West African traditions meet the queer discourses of our present in Logan February’s poetry, which is being published in German for the first time. February will be in conversation with translator and editor Christian Filips, whose own Queering Translation. The Missing Word as Membrane will be published simultaneously. You can be part of this fascinating discourse and continue the conversation afterwards accompanied by wine and nibbles.

  • Literary Colloquium Berlin, Am Sandwerder 5, Steglitz, January 29th, 19:30, details

January 31

Transmediale

Film Still from Uncensored Lilac, d. Bassam Issa Al-Sabah, 2023 CC BY-NC-SA, showing at Transmediale 24. Courtesy of: Transmediale

The 37th edition of Transmediale explores our frustrations relating to technology and internet content in the form of a five-day festival plus two exhibitions. The tagline for this edition is “you’re doing amazing sweetie”, and the aim is to probe the “horror of content” and challenge the allure of unusable politics that spawn from cycles of consumption and distraction.

  • Silent Green, Akademie der Kunste, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, January 31st through Feb 4, details.