Hamburg’s Music Scene

Elbjazz Festival in Hamburg.

Hamburg’s arts and entertainment scene is exploding as one of the most popular locations for music and shows behind New York and London. Whether it’s The Beatles or ballet, Hamburg’s entertainment district, opera house and festivals have something to offer everyone.

The entertainment district, Reeperbahn, has made quite the transition from its reputation as a seedy red light district. In the 1960s and 70s, The Beatles and pop culture took over the scene. Since the 1990s, the red light district has become more of an entertainment district, with clubs, bars and pubs sprinkled in alongside art galleries, cabarets and theaters. Clubs feature live music and international DJs with hotspots including the Golden Pudel Club, Kurhotel and Mojo Club, and Prinzenbar and Moondoo.

Singer and songwriter Stefanie Hempel takes travelers on the guided musical Hempel’s Beatles Tour following the tracks of The Beatles in Reeperbahn with stops at clubs like Indra, Kaiserkeller and Star Club, all while singing Beatles tunes with her guests. For more information, visit

The fourth annual Elbjazz Festival will take over 10 stages at and around Hamburg’s harbor and the Elbe River on May 24 and 25. The festival, which features 50 performances at venues ranging from open-air stages to hidden shipyards, will showcase famous jazz musicians, as well newcomers from Hamburg and throughout the world. Artists include the European Jazz Ensemble and Charlie Wood. For more information, visit

The 3-night Reeperbahn Festival—taking place Sept. 26-28—brings together 300 bands and DJs, as well as 2,800 industry professionals and media representatives, for live music in the red light district. Venues include clubs, bars, theaters and churches throughout the district. In addition to music performances, the festival will host over 50 events dealing with street art, poetry and literature. For more information, visit

Hamburg also has a variety of traditional art and cultural performances for travelers to experience. The Hamburg State Opera—which opened in 1678—was Germany’s first public opera house. Regular performances include the Australian conductor Simone Young and John Neumeier’s ballet company. This year also marks Neumeier’s 40th anniversary as director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet. To celebrate, Neumeier will present a jubilee program. Highlights include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare Dances. For more information, visit

From July 6-Aug. 25, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival takes place with over 150 concerts performed in the German coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Lower Saxony. This year is dedicated to the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Mischa Maisky and Iveta Apkalna. The festival combines music and nature with big-name performers like Anne-Sophie Mutter playing in venues like barns, country manors and castles. For more information, click here.

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