Anisa Shaikh rounds up some of the city’s best places to drink and party al fresco…
And just like that, in true Berlin style the summer seems to be fading as soon as it reached a crescendo. However there may still be just a few last chances to sample the outdoor delights before autumn well and truly takes over. While there are many open air parties, and impromptu club nights all over the city (when the weather permits) we decided to give you a list of some of the less-transient venues that offer tourists, locals and slow travellers alike, a great escape.
At the top of Neukölln’s Arkaden shopping centre in Karl-Marx Straße, is one of our favourite outdoor venues, Klunkerkranich. Named after an African bird called the wattled crane, this unpretentious rooftop terrace/garden boasts a spectacular view of the city and hosts local DJs that keep the place hopping.
A parking lot in its previous life, Klunkerkranich is a wooden, sandy urban playground frequented by a motley crew of tourists, locals, young, old, hip and hipper meeting up for the after-work beer(s), sunset basking, and pre or post-partying.
The place fills up fast, especially on weekends and lustrous summer evenings when the concrete still radiates the heat of the day. On such nights, bring a beer for the line and a few euros for entrance. More? You can also enjoy a drink at the friendly cocktail-only bar in the small herb garden annexing the main terrace.
While Klunkerkranich is commonly known as the perfect spot for early evening drinks (open until midnight only), it actually opens shortly before noon every day. Check their Facebook page for gardening workshops, parties, film screenings and the occasional free-entry night.
One of the city’s more established clubs, Weekend has long attracted an international and generally commercial (by Berlin’s standards) crowd. Located in the soaring GDR building that was once the Haus des Reisens (House of Travel), and designed by architects Robertneun, a recent renovation means the main floor is now on the 15th floor (not the 12th), but the rooftop terrace (17th floor) remains open during the summer months.
From 7pm there’s a BBQ on offer nowadays courtesy of Michelin-starred Chef Stefan Hartmann, heated benches for cooler days and lounges with personal table service (reservation required). It’s hard not to be slightly awed by the views across Alexanderplatz and East Berlin as you sip your cocktail and nod along to the chugging house and techno piped in from the main dancefloor (which opens at 11pm should you want to shake your tush).
Known for it’s vibrant decorations, duck doors and variety of dance spaces, Sisyphos is on Hauptstrasse (Lichtenberg) on the banks of the spree. Sisyphos has a friendly, festival type vibe and seems to be a favourite for the twenty-somethings. With a versatile line up there is always something to suit everyone’s musical taste. With the exception of Wilde Renate further along the Spree, this is definitely not a clubbing district so plan accordingly.
The space encompasses a huge indoor space, as well as two or three other stages, food is available and on occasion you might even find a band playing in the garden. Open from Thursday night until Monday sometime, if you’d like to avoid a cue, try to avoid arriving between midnight and 4am on a Saturday night.
A perfect escape on a hot summer’s day, Lichtpark is surprisingly gritty and wonderful for its inner city location in Mitte. Another party spot on the Spree, Lichtpark offers a choice of either dancing and mingling, or relaxing on a deckchair and watching the boats go by with a cold beer. Directly beside the old Kater Holzig, the Lichtpark crowd, music and atmosphere is completely different. Often very crowded in the summer, it tends to be slightly more mainstream than other surrounding outdoor venues. Nonetheless, if you aren’t afraid of a packed party, this is your kind of place.
Hidden behind crates on the Spree and close to Treptower Park, Else is the summer outdoor club of the wild and infamous – Wilde Renate. Once a venue for guerilla parties, Renate took over the space and turned it into an official club. Open every sunday from 10am, it attracts a daytime version of their regular crowd and boasts plenty of lounging space and a view of the river. Often with quite a spectacular line up of DJ’s and live musicians such as Alex Boman, Prins Thomas and Andre Lodemann, Else is a favourite for those who like deep house. With more disco balls than you can count, the decorations are as much fun as the colorful crowd.
Club der Visionaere, also known as CDV by practically everyone familiar with the neighborhood, is perched on a narrow canal in a brick building overshadowed by a beautiful weeping willow. Inside, there is an ever-crowded two-tiered deck, a cosy dancefloor (claustrophobics steer clear) and a standard open-air bar for the throngs that frequent it. For those looking for a banging party, beware the sound system not being near loud enough to really get into it. The DJ policy is quite relaxed, offering local DJs as well as (often unannounced) very high profile ones. It is a great place to laze in the sun and chat with the music faintly soundtracking the festivities, and they serve quite good pizza to keep hunger at bay. Entrance is usually quite cheap.
About Blank is located minutes from Ostkreuz and each year gains more and more acclaim among the Berlin clubbing community. The venue itself is rough and ready and the atmosphere is top notch. The door policy is not quite as strict as somewhere like Berghain but as with any Berlin club, it helps if you know who is playing or what event is happening that night as the queue can be long and there is still the risk of being turned away.
The bookings veer mainly towards house and techno with a lot of high profile acts from across the spectrum but also include interesting, lesser known artists into the line ups. Night time parties spill from the two pokey inner rooms into the comfortable garden outside as the morning wears on. The atmosphere in the garden can be either mellow or completely insane, depending on which corner you are in.
There’s a comfortable dancing area which can fill up nicely with a unique crop of Berlin’s partyheads. Homopatik is probably the most well-known party there, helmed by Mr. Ties. Lineups are always kept secret (or at least as secret as possible) but are full of heavyweights and locals alike; a recent guest there was New York Legend Danny Krivit.
Griessemuehle is quickly getting a name for itself as a Berlin venue to be reckoned with. In keeping with the Berlin spirit, it is located in a grungy building in the middle of an industrial estate just beside Sonnenallee S-Bahn Station. The venue contains two interior club rooms – one larger room at ground level and the other in a tiny basement with metal stairs. Outside is a comfortable space with a wooden booth, decent sized dancefloor and a veritable playground for adults – treehouses, couches, recliners, pallet constructions, bonfires and converted trailers.
Not just a typical club, it also hosts theatre, barbecues, dancing classes and standup comedy among various other cultural events. The bookings are a bit more low key with many local collectives given space, though occasionally peppered with some more well known acts. The music policy usually doesn’t veer too far from the holy Berlin trinity of House, Disco and Techno. The venue attracts a refreshingly mixed crowd, and the atmosphere is generally quite friendly and unpretentious, with a big dose hedonism thrown in.
Started in 2004 as an art project organized by Berlin’s Stadtkunstprojekte (City Art ProjectSociety), the AMP Architectos (Teneriffa), architect Gil Wilk and local artist Susanne Lorenz, the Badeschiff was created to enliven city life along what was then a long-neglected stretch of the Spree. Today the pool – part of a complex of old industrial buildings that were slowly redesigned by the organisation Art Kombinat (now ARENA Berlin), from 1995 onwards – is the city’s trendiest open-air pool, complete with boutique beach, drinks and cocktail bar and regular DJs and live music events.
True it can get a little too crowded in summer, but if you do snag a place, the combination of Spreeside views, great vibes and decent cocktails is hard to beat. The proximity to the Club der Visionäre, neighbouring Arena club and the newly relocated White Trash means there are also easy alternatives and/or follow-on spots.
First there was Bar 25; then there was Kater Holzig; and now there is Kater Blau. Ostensibly three iterations of the same concept – an adult playground where clubbers, hipsters and alternative folk can gather and party for days on end – Kater Blau does have a slight difference in that it’s part of the broader Holzmarkt development, which means it won’t any more have to up-sticks and hop around. What this will do to its vibe or reputation remains to be seen, but since the grand opening a couple of months ago, it seems like it’s Party O’clock as normal…