Once a year it’s the First of May – and the night before it’s Walpurgis Night. And just like in many German and European communities both days are celebrated in Berlin. However – you might have heard already that Walpurgis Night and especially the First of May have a bit their own ‘rituals’ and ‘traditions’ in Berlin.
First I should probably mentions that on First of May some areas are not quite safe. There are not really any no-go areas – but instead there is a strange tradition of having riots in the streets of Berlin. In the past years this phenomenon seems to have lost a bit of momentum – but not too long ago in some areas and on some occasions things could really get bad – especially in Kreuzberg, but also in some areas of Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Mitte. But why? And who is rioting?
Berlin’s First of May Riots
As far as I know it all started back in the late eighties, on the May 1st 1987 to be exact, when a peaceful public neighbourhood party at Kreuzberg’s Lausitzer Platz got overrun by the police. And people were not quite amused. At some point the Police actually decided they had to withdraw from Kreuzberg, because the situation went way out of control. Cars burnt down, shops were looted, some were set on fire. Since then, Kreuzberg can be a ‘difficult’ terrain to go for Berlin police forces – at least on the First of May.
If you still want to visit Kreuzberg on the First of May the best place to go would probably be the street party called MyFest (https://www.myfestev.de/) in Kreuzberg. Over the years people got sick and tired of all the rioting and the best alternative seems to be to have – again – a peaceful neighbourhood party. So there will be some stages with live bands playing and for sure there’s gonna be some street food to snack. But anyways – be aware there can be complications.
Walpurgis Night in Berlin
Further information on Walpurgis Night traditions: