Hamburg and its port are inseperably connected to each other. Solely because the port isn't located in front of the gates of the city, but rather right in the middle of the city. This is so phenomenally beautiful, even natives from Hamburg still pass their lunch break there and enjoy a stiff breeze and a little maritime flair. It's simply pretty cool to stroll around the big ships, gaze at the Köhlbrandbrücke or the Elbphilharmonie and soak up the clamor of the seagulls and the typical Hamburg slang. That's how every day feels a little like a vacation.
Speaking of the Elbphilharmonie. As Hamburg natives, we aren't really big fans of complicated names. Most Hanseatic citizens are calling it Elphi by now, although many think the term Flötenbude is more appropriate.
After the counts of Schauenburg built Lübeck in the year of 1143, they didn't stop there and constructed the Hamburg new town. It was perfectly located along the estuaries of Elbe and Alster, close to the old town and soon turned into the trading centre and large warehouse for a variety of goods. It made sense to establish a big port there. The 7th of May 1189 is known as the birthday of Hamburg's port, which came to deeply shape and change the city until this day. Thus, there's a pretty good reason to celebrate this event accordingly every year. And us Hamburg natives can definitely do that!
More than a million people are celebrating the birthday of Hamburg's port during four days in May every year. Consequently, this event turned into the biggest celebration of a port anniversary worldwide. It offers such a diverse program, even staunch Quiddjes - non-natives who live in Hamburg - get their money's worth. The start and ending of every port anniversary celebration are the big parades, where gigantic cruise ships, impressive tall ships, marine and water police ships, sail yachts and cruisers as well as traditional and museum ships participate. All in all, more than 300 ships are romping about along the Elbe during these days and together with the Elbphilharmonie, the so-called Landungsbrücken and the port, they offer a spectacular scenery. It's even more awesome to be right in the middle of it, rather than watching the parades from the mainland. Various exhibitors allow for a visit on board during the Open Ship or even invite you to happily tag along onboard.
Normally, during the celebrations of the port anniversary, there's a whole lot going on. But there's also some events you definitely shouldn't miss. One of these is the Schlepperballett. Yeah, you heard right! Actually, it's up to the small, some 3000 hp strong power packs to securely escort huge container ships through the port. But once a year, they show their playful behavior. That's the time when they pirouette on the Elbe according to their sophisticated choreography which is also accompanied by music.
Needless to say that water sports is also a part of the port anniversary. In Hamburg, it's the HarborCity Championships for dragon boats and newcomer sailors that turn the Grasbrook port into a water arena. For spectators, this is particularly awesome because you can't get any closer than that.
No one can withstand the charm of ships. That's why the Oevelgönne Heritage Harbor is a must-see for little and big hobby captains. There, at the oldest museum port in Germany, numerous authentically restored ships can't only be admired from the outside, but visitors can also carefully examine them from the inside. If that's still not enough, you can also charter a ship for a private tour.
The port anniversary program happening on the mainland is in no way short of the colorful floating on the water. It's a party like no other. Numerous stages, showmen, booths selling handicraft and, of course, culinary delights embellish the entire port mile, from the Baumwall to the Landungsbrücken. Maritime theme worlds, amusement rides and last but not least the breathtaking AIDA firework, accompanied by the lights of the cruise ships make for family fun, guaranteed.
It's going down particularly colorful at the port gay-birthday taking place in the fish auction hall. During the Harbour Pride, the gay and lesbian community is putting together a brightly colored program: DJs, drag queens, artists on stage as well as an informative exchange with clubs from the community. Target audience - everyone!
A small tip from us, with over more than a million visitors it can get a little cozy in Hamburg. So book your room early on at the prizeotel Hamburg-City or the prizeotel Hamburg-St.Pauli. The fastest way goes through our attention-done-done!-booking system.