Music & clubs

EXB’s guide to Berlin music festival season 2021

From forest raves to cutting-edge pop, our music editor runs through the events that should be on every music lover’s list.

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From forest raves to cutting-edge pop, our music editor runs through the events that should be on every music lover’s list. Photo: IMAGO / Arnulf Hettrich

Summer is back on the table, and no matter what your style, you can find a music festival to suit your tastes. Despite some notable exceptions and a few late cancellations, there is still plenty to sink your teeth into. 

Organisers have gone to every length to make it work, and whether you prefer muddy knees and tinned beans or the more serene inner city fetes, we’ve got something for you.

Orwo Haus Festival 

A very special place for the music lovers of Berlin and part of the bedrock of the bezirk of Marzahn (host of this year’s Fete de la Musique). 

Orwo Haus is more than a venue, more than a studio, more than the sum of its parts. It’s a musician-managed community that does things the right way. And even in a city so revered for its music scene, that attitude is still, sadly, thin on the ground.

This is their annual festival, and with a capacity capped at 250, you’d do well to get your tickets sooner rather than later. Punk, jazz, soul, and proper rock n roll, the music is probably what you would expect from such a spot, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be surprised. 

As always, tickets for the Orwo Haus festival are on a pay what you feel basis, and at this often underappreciated bastion of culture, the feeling is always mutual.

Orwo Haus Festival, Frank-Zappa-Straße 19, 12681, 16 – 17 July

Nation of Gondwana

There are big names across the bill at the first genuine dance music festival of the summer season. Split between Milan and Berlin, the Nation of Gondwana has been through many iterations in its 26-year history, and this year it will be something of a litmus test for the return of large-scale events to Brandenburg.

Absolutely every possible precaution has been taken to ensure that the party faithful can dance in safety, and credit must go to organisers Pyonen for getting this off the ground in the most trying of circumstances.

The “Nation” has always been a fantasy world, a paradise of sorts, and now, more than ever, we can look to this alternate reality as a source of inspiration.

Blawan, Mama Snake, and Nene H are among the esteemed selectors on a line-up that also boasts the likes of Gerd Janson, Carl Craig, Helena Hauff, and Der Dritte Raum. 

Nation of Gondwana, Grünefeld bei Berlin, 16 – 18 July,  23 – 25 July

Zurück zu den Wurzeln Festival 

For obvious reasons,  Zurück zu den Wurzeln will be divided into smaller editions than usual. Its regular capacity of 8000 will be split over two pint sized festivals in July and August .

Aside from music, the idyllic surrounds of the “Secret Forest” and the big trance energy of it’s dedicated group of regular patrons are main draws here. 

This one is all about the vibe and the friendly fun at Zurück zu den Wurzeln has a decidedly psychedelic flavor. If that’s your thing, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cozier spot than this. If not, maybe it’s time to expand your mind, no one here bites.

Speaking of that music, the emphasis is curating a vibe not on big name bookings that often disappoint behind the decks at festivals. And aside from the regular offerings of techno and house, this festival works hard to build genuinely excellent psytrance, drum and bass, and down-tempo stages.

Zurück zu den Wurzeln has a little bit of everything, and it is actually, genuinely, lovely.

Zurück zu den Wurzeln, Secret Forest, Flugplatzweg 6, 14913 Niedergörsdorf, 29 July – 1 August, 26 – 29 August.

Jenseits von Millionen

Letting loose has no blueprint and if you want to enjoy a bit of music in the nature but your idea of fun does not include three days and nights of relentless bass kicks then Jenseits von Millionen might just be for you.

Set a just a couple of hours away in Friedland, this little two-day festival doubles up as a weekend perfect break from the city. It’s got all of the outdoor energy without you having to  commit to day after day of bad sleep and bed bugs. And, as is de rigeur for any self-respecting Brandenburg festival there’s a lake too. 

It’s not all indie either, there’s contemporary piano, alt-pop, and all things bright and bold from performers like Ilgen-Nur and Ätna. 

It’s a merry jaunt this one, it’s family friendly, and at 30€ a head, it’s an absolute steal too.

Jenseits von Millionen, Friedland, Brandenburg, 6 – 7 August

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Nation of Gondwana is one of Berlin’s best-loved electronic music festivals. Photo: Nation of Gondwana

3000 Grad 

Among perhaps the prettiest surrounds of any festival on this list, 3000 Grad is also one of the most different in both sound and style.

There’s a bit of a carnival vibe to this one, replete with bells and whistles and deserved fanfare. With a 2500-person capacity, it lands softly in that golden zone where there are more than enough revellers to get things going without ever feeling overwhelming.

Perfect, because 3000 Grad is something of a sensory feast already. Between bands, beats and dazzling artistic performances and installations theres always plenty going on. 

One area where this festival really excels is in curating equally weighted day and night programmes. Whatever your buzz, you can find it here.

3000 Grad, Feldberger Seenlandschaft, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 6 – 8 August

Akasha Festival

A relative newcomer, and only in its second edition, Akasha is an electronic music festival set just outside of Berlin.

At 1000 people, it’s an intimate affair and though the festival is still feeling itself out a little, it looks to be a rising force.

Anyone familiar with Berlin clubbing will no doubt recognize the majority of the names on the bill too. Peach, Roi Perez and Fantastic Man to name but a few and to that effect the bookings reflect the vibe here.

It’s clubby, playful, and a little bit messy for sure. For anyone that is sweating on the return of the dancefloors, Akasha provides a perfect outlet.

Akasha Festival, Alte Wassermühle, Vorwerk 2, 03099 Kolkwitz, 13 – 15 August

Plan:et C Festival

From the people who brought you Fusion comes Plan:et C. And while the Kulturkosmos crew quite understandably couldn’t get the mothership off the ground this time, their fingerprints are all over this new concept.

It’s the same familiar site and you should expect a similar situation just with the dial turned down from 70,000 to an already sizeable 10,000 guests.

Running over three weekends in August and September, Plan:et C, like Fusion, is mostly electronic music but there are always plenty of bands and other live acts on the line-up which are presented alongside Fusion mainstays like the cinema and theatre.

By now, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you pitch up in Lärz. It’s a whole new world and something that absolutely has to be experienced by everybody at least once.

Plan:et C, Am Flugplatz, 17248 Lärz, 20 – 22 August, 27 – 29 August, 17 -19 September

Praerie Festival

Go a few hours north and you’ll find the Berliner sound in the prairie. And the Berliner sound it is, though names like Pauli Pocket, Mimi Love, and Leon Licht should give you an inclination of which side sound this festival favours.

It’s another newcomer on the scene and smacks of the kind of ramshackle, hand-built environment that is so common in Berlin clubs. In that, it is not without a certain familiar charm.

You know what you’re getting here and it’s a tried and tested formula of tech-house and tents. If that sounds like you, then Praerie is a safe bet. And better yet, the tickets are still available, though not for much longer.

Praerie Festival, Zur Kleinbahn 8, 17099, 20 – 22 August

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Pop-Kultur is a yearly celebration of the diversity of both pop music and pop culture. Photo: Camille Blake


With 120 performances at the cutting edge of pop music packed into four days, it can be no other than Pop-Kultur. The Berliner institution is now in its seventh edition and time after time the people behind it prove themselves to be priceless sculptors of the zeitgeist.

If you’re on the look out for new acts to listen to this festival is as good a place to start as you’re ever likely to see. Unfortunately, there is just no way that you can ever catch it all so your best tactic is just to hang around the courtyard at the Kulturbrauerei and let it pour over you. 

Seriously, it is all good.

When it comes down to it, Pop-Kultur is a welcome celebration of the diversity of both pop music and pop culture. It is an eye opening reminder of what both are in this moment and what they can be moving forwards. 

If you think you don’t like pop music, it’s high time to have your mind changed.

Pop-Kultur, Schönhauser Allee 36, 10435, 25 – 28 August

Feel Festival

Last but not least, Feel festival rounds out the summer season in regular style at the looming steampunk dystopian lakeside resort of Ferropolis. Mining machines of absolutely staggering proportions provide the backdrop and adequately fills the insta-bait quota that each and every dance music festival needs to tick off to be successful.

Big stages, big names, big everything. Not in a bad way though, Feel is surprising in that so much of it has been tenderly put together by the hands of rafts of artisans dedicated to making a genuinely immersive environment for this well-known shindig.

While the line-up isn’t as quote unquote cool as some of the others that share this one of a kind site (think Whole for example) it’s a proper talent to be both familiar and diverse, serving up well known names from across genres that anybody would be pleased to see.

It’s a minor miracle that an event on this scale can even run this year and the breadth of its appeal more than justifies any qualms about its bookings.

Feel Festival, Bergheider See, Brandenburg, 2 – 5 September