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Hamburg Culture and Entertainment

From: Hamburg City Guide

Elbphilharmonie

ABOVE: The new Elbphilharmonie concert hall in HafenCity is an auditorium and apartment building with structurally-separated elements to block sound transfer in both directions.

Classical music

The Staatsoper Hamburg was Germany's first public opera company when it opened in January, 1678. Its modern opera house is also home to the Hamburg Ballett.

For symphonic music, you have two top choices: the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester (which is part of the opera company), and the Klassikphilharmonie Hamburg (formerly the Hamburg Mozart Orchestra) which has concerts in two formats: as a chamber orchestra with 23 musicians or as a chamber symphony orchestra with 55.

When you're in Hamburg, check with the local tourist office for information about choral concerts and other events.

Theatre

Hamburg has an active theatre scene, with shows that range from serious plays to musical comedies imported from Broadway. Most are in German, but the English Theatre of Hamburg (Germany's oldest professional English theatre) offers new plays, modern classics by George Bernard Shaw and other playwrights, and the occasional Neil Simon confection.

Popular music

Hempel's Beatles TourThe St. Pauli district is the focus of Hamburg's club scene. We don't pretend to be experts on local nightlife--and even if we were, the definition of what's hot and what's not may have changed by the time you read this. Check Hamburg Tourism's "Pubs & Bars" listings and event calendar to see what's on during your visit, and pick up a copy of the tourist office's free Hamburg St. Pauli: The Reeperbahn Experience brochure.

  • Tip: If you're a fan of Liverpool's Fab Four or Five, who performed regularly in Hamburg at the beginning of their career, Hempel's Beatles Tour (inset photo above) is likely to be worth your time and euros.

Prostitution

Eros sign in St PauliHamburg's red-light district around the Reeperbahn isn't what it once was, partly because fewer men need to pay for sex in the 21st Century. Another factor may be changes in the maritime industry. (Containerships have largely replaced traditional freighters, which means the population of horny sailors has declined sharply in the last few decades.)

Today, street prostitutes offer their services on the Davidstrasse at certain hours of the day, and you can ask "How much is that woman in the window?" in the Herbertstrasse (Hamburg's answer to Amsterdam), which is screened off from neighboring streets and open only to men over 18.

If you prefer a less hands-on approach to prostitution, the Historical Whores Tour may whet your intellectual appetite. (Check the information page and timetable to see whether English-language tours are scheduled during your visit.)

Horrific history

Like its counterparts in York, Amsterdam, and several other European cities, the Hamburg Dungeon is a cross between a theme-park ride, a Halloween haunted house, and a history tour. The attraction's pitch line is "600 years of dark history, 10 shows, 2 scary rides in one unique experience."

Next page: Shopping in Hamburg





2nd inset photo copyright © Arne Thaysen.

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