How to Survive MyFest

MyFest: a massive protest for labor day that has since turned into Berlin’s biggest communal party. Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy it (or avoid it).

Like many places in the world, Germany celebrates International Worker’s Day on the first of May. But while the holiday in other cities may be uneventful, Berlin has turned the holiday into a full-on party. Through an amazing coordination of community members, local authorities and city councils, the energetic protests that once marked the holiday have morphed into one of Berlin’s biggest parties with music, food, and beer.

But you should know, because of the crowds, things at MyFest can get hectic and confusing. To get the most out of the festival, a few helpful tips go a long way. Here is everything you need to know to experience the celebration like a true Berliner.

MyFest Berlin Danilo Sierra

© Danilo Sierra/HEREYOUARE

1: First things first: Coordinate with friends. The streets are going to be jam-packed and because there are so many people, cell phone service can be spotty. So it’s a good idea to plan to meet at a specific place. And if anyone gets lost, have a predetermined place to meet back up again as well. Knowing these places will help because public transportation will be completely shut off in the surrounding area and there will be no banks or ATMs to spot you some cash. I know it’s hard in this day and age, but you’re gonna have to employ some good old self-reliance, so be prepared.

 

 

2: Brunch: You are not going to want to start MyFest off on an empty stomach, but you don’t want to rely solely on the food vendors either. Lines are going to be extremely long and it will probably be expensive. So eat a good meal ahead and get into line before your stomach starts to eat itself. Don’t do what I did and wait in line for a full forty-five minutes just to find out all the pretzels are gone. Just pack a ham and cheese, you’ll thank yourself later. Beer on the other hand, will not be a problem. God Bless Germany.

 

 

3: Go With the Flow: Chances are your plans are going to get all mixed up at some point. Streets will be blocked off, something will catch your eye, or some interesting (or scary) riot will break out. So be prepared to let the day take you where it may. My personal suggestion is that you start south and head north: begin at the Reichenberger Strasse area, head to Görlitzer park, to Kottbusser Tor and finally end up around Köpenicker Strasse. Keep in mind too that there will be a lot of security checkpoints, so instead of throwing away your beer glasses in the trash, keep your eye out for the pfandsammler who collect the cans for recycling money.

 

 

4: Don’t Stay in One Place: Part of why MyFest is so great is because of how big and diverse it is. So unless there’s a DJ playing your absolute favorite hits, then make it a point to keep moving, drinking more beer, and meeting more people. If you go anywhere, you’ll want to head north to the Köpenicker Strasse area where people will be throwing some great outdoor parties. BUT. Don’t forget: MyFest is still technically a protest: there can be some intense moments. So don’t forget to keep your wits about you, be responsible, and kind to those around you. Everyone knows things can get out of control, so do you best to not incite that.

 

 

5: Sunset is just the Beginning: Another great thing about MyFest is that the entire public domain becomes a potential party spot. So when things start to get a little dark, you know people are going to be partying. It’s not surprising to find Open Air parties, dance parties by the canal or open boat parties. Take a risk, talk to people, it’s a day for socialization!

For Those Who Prefer Their Own Fest to “MyFest”

I’m going to tell you a secret: I have consciously skipped MyFest before. I know, crazy, but we all have those days when we’d rather just skip the chaos and the crowds, and that’s cool too. If the ideal day sounds like a quiet excursion away from crowds, here are my five favorite spots to hit up.

 

 

1. Tempelhofer feld: The outdoor place par excellence. Berlin’s former airport-turned-park, it is now one of the best places to watch a sunset while sitting on the grass, ride your bike, watch the skaters on the tarmac, enjoy spontaneous open air parties, or simply have a beer at its neighborhood greenhouses.

 

 

2. Volkspark Humboldthain in Wedding: This park is home to a massive World War II artillery station and bunker, and although some of its original structure remains, it has been turned into a beautiful park where you can climb, jog, relax in front of an impressive view of north Berlin, or have a lovely walk in its rose garden. During normal days, you can go inside the remains of the bunker in a guided tour to learn about the history of the city.

3. Volkspark Friedrichshain in Mitte. This park is in between the Mitte and Friedrichshain district on the eastern side of the city; it is quite lovely and has a lot of outdoor activities. It has a tendency to get very quiet and it almost feels like you are on holiday outside of town.

4. Körnerpark in Neukölln. This park was originally commissioned by a very wealthy man from the neighborhood in 1912. His intention was to give the neighborhood a beautiful place to relax, and he succeeded. Built in the style of a French Orangerie, this park has an artspace, a cafe, a beautiful waterfall and two rose gardens. This place is so romantic you might even find wedding rehearsal photo sessions or live opera.

 

 

5. Eating food in Sonnenallee: Sonnenallee is a gastronomical adventure. You can have different types of food from all sorts of places in the world and hands-down some of the best arab and turkish food in Berlin. Walk down the street and pick any place and you will be in for a treat, but my best recommendation here is to try the Hummus at Azzam.

Visit Danilo Sierra website for more pictures of this event

Danilo Sierra is a Honduran-raised, Berlin-based art director and web designer. He likes photography and brutalist websites.
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