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  • 48 Hours Neukölln: Berlin’s biggest independent art festival

Art festival

48 Hours Neukölln: Berlin’s biggest independent art festival

Creatives of all kinds will come together again this summer to use Kieze as canvases for the 25th edition of 48 Hours Neukölln.

48 Hours Neukölln is a summer highlight in Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / IPON

On June 23, Berlin’s largest independent art festival will be taking over the streets of Neukölln for its 25th edition – and with the motto being “Play(ground),” this year’s weekend-long event is bound to be one of the most fun yet. Over 1000 artists will be painting the town at 330 different spots from galleries to Spätis so you can see some of the city’s coolest Kieze come to life like never before!

Art imitates life

Whether as street art or street wear, 48 Hours Neukölln has style for days. Photo: Imago/Martin Müller

With such a rich tapestry of creativity on offer, it’s no wonder that the festival draws in tens of thousands of attendees every year – but its origins are more humble than you might expect. Launched in 1999, part of the festival’s original purpose was to improve Neukölln’s less-than-favourable reputation. 

Given that history, the event symbolises the district’s transformation, bringing its culture of class solidarity and its international bohemian-scene to the foreground by showcasing art not just in standard venues like galleries, but also at bars, Spätis, industrial facilities – even the occasional cemetery. 

An expression of Neukölln’s tightly-knit creative community, the festival will include a cross-disciplinary programme, with live music, stage performances, and workshops to help attendees get immersed in the local art scene. 

Programme highlights

A 2020 festival exhibit in the old transformer plant on Richardstraße in Neukölln. Photo: Tanja Schnitzler

Over 1000 talented artists will be showcasing their work, but with the festival lasting only 48 hours, it’ll be tough to see it all. That’s why we’ve put together some of the highlights from this year’s programme that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Ghetto Wrestling

This “fully unprofessional” throwdown is exactly as silly as it sounds: Ghetto Wrestling consists of a series of fights where contestants in colourful costumes will be flexing both their creative and their regular muscles in a comedy show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Each character will be introduced by a master of ceremonies before the fight begins and musical acts will be there to keep both audience and performers’ spirits up.

But that’s not even the best part: The organisers are currently looking for participants. To apply, you’ll need a wrestling name, a fleshed-out persona, and, of course, one hell of a costume. What you won’t need is any prior experience. In fact, it’ll probably be funnier if you don’t.

  • Ghetto Wrestling by Disgustingly Clever, Oyoun Cultural Centre, Sunday, details.


This interactive video art project started back in 2020. Based on the children’s game telephone, it’s culminated in what Grrl Haus are calling an “ongoing visual conversation:” A chain of short videos made by over 80 artists, each one created in response to the last.

In addition to screening the resulting film, the event will wrap up with a Grrl Haus Party with performances by The Sticky Hickies, anita love, and other pop, rock, and electronic artists.

  • GRRL TELEPHONE by Grrl Haus, Loophole, Saturday, details.

Animal Architects

One of them is Canadian artist Christy Langer, whose work tests the boundaries of how we typically define sculpture. For her interactive piece called “Animal Architects,” Langer will be passing out wool, string, and cotton on a street corner by Körnerpark so festival-goers can create their own sculptures in the open space. 

These individual creations add up to a collective work of art that Langer sees as an allegory for hive-intelligence in the animal kingdom, exemplified in communal nest-building among birds.

  • Animal Architects by Christy Langer, Körnerpark, through Sunday, details

The sound of the Tarlabaşı

If you’re more inclined to spectate than participate, music group X-Berg Kiz Meslek Chor will be giving a concert on the balcony of the opera house. Reinterpreting Anatolian songs that capture the cultural diversity of an Istanbul district in danger of gentrification, the performance is a commentary on the similar socioeconomic transformation taking place in Neukölln. 

  • At a “Tarlabaşı” afternoon by X-Berg Kiz Meslek Chor, balcony of the Neukölln Opera House, Friday and Sunday, details.

Meet Blind Photographers

Meanwhile, blind photographers Susanne Emmermann, Silja Korn, and Gerald Pirner will be demonstrating how they create visual art even without eyesight in the Neukölln Arcaden through interactive activities. Participants will need to rely on their other four senses to make it work – and a well-developed imagination doesn’t hurt, either. 

  • Meet Blind Photographers by Susanne Emmermann, Silja Korn, and Gerald Pirner, Neukölln Arcaden, through Sunday, details


Lean to the left? A historic hub for leftist political activists, the bar B-Lage in Richardkiez will be the site of a feminist rebellion led by kaboom collective, whose irreverent ‘womanifesto’ will prove the emancipatory power of reclaiming derogatory patriarchal language through poetry.

  • Manifotzo by kaboom collective, B-Lage, Friday, details

This article has been adapted from the German by Seraina Birdsey.