Every May Hamburg port, the 'gateway to the world', is turned on its head for three days when some 1.5 million people line the 'port mile' (in fact nearer four kilometres) to celebrate the world's biggest harbour festival - the Port Anniversary. The extensive programme includes highlights such as the grand parade of tall ships accompanied by a firework spectacular, the traditional tug boat ballet and lots more events on land, on the water and in the air. Countless stalls lining the port mile sell everything from exotic drinks and Asian specialities to traditional fish rolls.
They go by the names of Queen Mary 2, AIDAmar and DEUTSCHLAND and they convey wanderlust, nostalgia and a sense of freedom. During Hamburg Cruise Days, which take place every other August, visitors have the chance to see these floating palaces at close hand. There's never a dull moment with theme islands such as 'Beauty, Spa and Wellness', plus live music, a casino and children's activities. The festival's signature events are the grand Hamburg Cruise Days Parade and Blue Port, which sees the port, ships, bridges and surrounding buildings bathed in atmospheric blue light for a whole week.
There's no shortage of events for music lovers in Hamburg too. In May visitors to the Elbjazz Festival can enjoy the finest jazz by home-grown and international artists performed across ten stages. The unconventional venues make this a festival to remember, and travelling from one concert to the next by boat is equally unforgettable. The combination of newcomers and legends, small harbourside bars and huge open-air stages in HafenCity or at the Blohm&Voss shipyard means the festival is gaining new ground for jazz in every possible respect. The popular Dockville Festival on Wilhelmsburg island in the Elbe features live performances by bands and solo artists from a broad spectrum of musical genres, as well an art camp. Every year in the last weekend of September some 200 bands and individual performers converge on Hamburg's famous red light district to send crowds wild at the Reeperbahn Festival. Sensational concerts are performed on the main stage in Spielbudenplatz square and in around 20 clubs, bars and theatres along the infamous St. Pauli street.
There's no rest for sporty types in Hamburg either. Every year more than 13,000 athletes take part in the Hamburg Triathlon – and even more spectators spur on the competitors along the scenic course. The swimming section of the race is held in the Inner Alster, while the cycling and running routes take participants along the Outer Alster and the Elbe. Throughout the triathlon weekend, the action is centred on the finish line at Hamburg's Rathausmarkt square. All the excitement makes for a truly memorably day – come and experience it for yourself!