Since 2005, Berlin’s Festival of Lights has offered residents and visitors alike something to look forward to on lengthening autumn nights. Starting October 12, dozens of the city’s buildings are awash in dazzling multicolored illuminations.
It’s a chance to see some of Berlin’s best-known monuments in a new light: the Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dom, Schloss Charlottenburg and the Fernsehturm are all kitted out in polychrome finery. This year they will be joined for the first time by the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche, with its truncated spire left untouched since the Second World War.
And it’s amazing what a difference it makes. Whole streetscapes are transformed; stately Gendarmenmarkt reveals its Disney-esque side and the columns of trees lining the grand boulevard of Unter den Linden become an enchanted forest. Even lesser-known buildings that you probably wouldn’t look twice at during the day twinkle in borrowed radiance.
The festival offers a “LightBar”, a “LightGallery” and all sorts of “lightseeing” options (yep, they really picked up that “light” theme and ran with it). There’s horse-drawn carriage, river cruises, walking tours or a “photo safari”, a four-hour bus tour through the luminous city with frequent stops for photo opportunities as well as a light snack (sorry). And if you’re pleased with the results you can enter them in festival’s annual photography competition.
There are nightly jogs around lit-up streets to stave off the chill evening air, culminating in the LightRun on October 20, when thousands of runners sporting glowing armbands complete a five- or ten-kilometer circuit, depending on ability and enthusiasm.