No Tickets? No Problem! Spiegel Online's Guide to Germany's World Cup Fan Fests

By Chris Bryant in Berlin

All 12 World Cup host cities are throwing massive, month-long parties where fans from around the world can catch the games live, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a range of free cultural events. So hop on the next Ryanair or Easyjet flight or take the train. The party's about to get started.

BERLIN

Computer-generated image of Berlin's Fan Fest.
DDP

Computer-generated image of Berlin's Fan Fest.

No surprises that Berlin is pulling out all the stops for its Fan Fest. From the opening whistle on June 9 until the World Cup is raised in triumph on July 9 the German capital's main thoroughfare, the Strasse des 17. Juni, will be turned into the country's largest football arena. An area the size of 12 football pitches in the heart of the capital will play host to fans from around the world.

The Brandenburg Gate will be the backdrop for Berlin's World Cup spectacular. All the games will be shown on a giant, 60-square-meter screen with three further screens to make sure nobody misses out on the action.

From 11am until late into the night Berlin will stage a month-long jamboree of football, drinking and partying. Soccer and beach volleyball pitches will line the road so fans can stage their own mini-World Cups. Every evening after the last game has finished, DJs will turn the Strasse des 17. Juni into a mile-long dancefloor with a laser show ever day at midnight and a giant disco ball sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

On June 7, Berlin will celebrate the opening of the World Cup with a huge party for fans. Acts booked to perform live on stage include Nelly Furtado, Simple Minds, Ronan Keating and Andrea Bocelli. Brazilian soccer legend Pelé will also make an appearance.

An open-air classical music concert will be held on Sunday, July 2 featuring the German Symphonic Orchestra.

COLOGNE

La Ola Colonia (Cologne Mexican wave) is the theme of Cologne's ambitious Fan Fest. The city -- renowned for its vibrant cultural scene -- will be transformed for the World Cup with the celebrations centered around the old town at Heumarkt.

All the games will be broadcast on big screens with capacity for around 7,500 fans. Another big screen at Roncalliplatz -- right next to Cologne's imposing gothic cathedral -- will also show the most important games.

Cologne knows only too well how to throw a party. The famous Karneval brings the city to a complete standstill for a week, the streets swamped with drunken, costumed revellers -- sleep is a low priority.

So, expect a riot of color, music and street theatre. Concerts will take place at the Roncalliplatz, for which tickets must be purchased. From choirs to opera, jazz, international groups and big name acts (well, Ronan Keating), Cologne should be a feast for the senses.

DORTMUND

Perhaps the most innovative of Germany's World Cup cities is Dortmund, which will be entertaining and accommodating thousands of fans in its Westfalenhallen exhibition center.

Three of the Westfalenhallen will be transformed into indoor football stadia where fans can watch games live and soak up the heady atmosphere. The city is planning a Dortmund version of the Oktoberfest, so expect the beer to be flowing nonstop.

And, 3,952 weary football fans will be able to sleep at the indoor "Fan Camp" for €35 per night. Bunkbeds will be installed throughout the Westfalenhallen to try and relieve an expected accommodation shortfall. 250,000 visitors are expected in Dortmund for the World Cup, yet there are only 5,250 hotel and hostel beds in the whole city.

But, it's not just about drinking and passing out. Culture is served up in the form of a new play "Ronaldo and Juliet" about a love affair between two fans of rival football clubs Schalke and Dortmund. And, don't miss the World Cup in miniature -- the Subbuteo table football world championships in the DASA exhibition hall.

FRANKFURT

Frankfurt has already begun its World Cup celebrations with a massive light and laser display and images of the world's leading players projected onto the city's famous skyscrapers.

Germany's financial center will never compete with the likes of Cologne, Hamburg or Berlin for its coolness factor, but its Fan Fest will certainly give these other cities a run for their money.

The piece de resistance will be a giant LED screen anchored in the middle of the Main River which may be viewed from either bank. Up to 15,000 fans will gather between Alte Mainbrücke and Bubis-Brücke from 90 minutes before kick-off to watch games on a 144 square-meter-screen.

Those exhausted by all the excitement and sensory overload can relax in a designated sunbathing area next to the river (subject to weather conditions), and on the north bank fans can join in a football tournament or participate in numerous cultural events.

GELSENKIRCHEN

With a comparably diminutive population of just 275,000, Gelsenkirchen will be struggling to match the World Cup Fan Fests of other German cities.

But the industrial city is determined not to be left-out. The city boasts an impressive, brand-new stadium, which is home to the Schalke football team. And to cater for those who couldn't get tickets, Schalke's former stadium, the Glückaufbahn, will host the city's Fan Fest.

All the games will be broadcast live on a 60-square-meter screen, with free entry for all. On the seven rest days, with no soccer to watch, visitors can attend one of a series of open-air concerts in the old stadium.

Gelsenkirchen has managed to book an impressive line-up of acts, featuring concerts by Bob Dylan, James Blunt, Simple Minds, the Gipsy Kings, Status Quo and Bryan Adams -- events that should at least have a certain generation of football fans dancing in the aisles.

HAMBURG

Hamburg's Fan Fest should will host up to 50,000 fans.
DPA

Hamburg's Fan Fest should will host up to 50,000 fans.

In an area the size of 11 football pitches, located between the harbor and the titillating delights of the infamous Reeperbahn, Hamburg has been busily constructing a "Fan City" set to play host to up to 50,000 people. An 80-square-meter video screen will show all the games live at the Heiligengeistfeld with music and dance acts booked to perform during the half-time interval.

Right Said Fred have agreed to perform their timeless classic "I'm Too Sexy". And the highlight for Hamburg's vociferous English population will be the Lightning Seeds' rendition of football anthem "Three Lions" live on stage.

Representatives of each country are being encouraged to hold their own cultural events at the Fan Fest. The English are busy constructing a faithful replica of an English pub. Mexico and Iran have set up a joint-cocktail bar, despite the two countries meeting in the group stages of the tournament.

Admission is free, with the beer flowing daily from midday until midnight.

HANOVER

Hanover's World Cup celebrations will center on Waterloo Platz. The Fan Fest will kick off with a concert on June 7 featuring the Scorpions and Mousse T.

But don't let the music line up put you off. International visitors who fail to be thrilled by the biting eighties sound of the Scorpions can rest assured that all 64 games will be streamed live on a big screen for up to 17,000 fans.

With the city playing host to Ghana, Mexico, Costa Rica and Angola in the first round, Hanover is sure to be a riot of enthusiastic supporters determined to have a good time. Musicians from participating nations will perform live near the Marktkirche.

KAISERSLAUTERN

Kaiserslautern is sharing out the burden of drunken football fans by holding two Fan Fests, one at Stiftsplatz and one at Barbarossastrasse.

Stiftsplatz, which is showing all the games live on a big screen, will also host a series of obscure, but astoundingly popular, German pop acts including The Boss Hoss and Klaus Doldinger.

Barbarossastrasse will only show the group stages and quarter finals on its big screen, but its proximity to the stadium is sure to pack in those fans without a ticket and there will be DJs playing techno until late into the night.

The "World Cup Mile" connecting the two Fan-Fests will stage a street-theater festival, and international cuisine from all participating nations will be on offer.

Other attractions include "Abydos" -- a World Cup musical -- and an exhibition of soccer fashion at the Theodor Zink Museum.

LEIPZIG

Augustusplatz, in the heart of historic Leipzig, is the focus for the city's fan celebrations. Two large screens will show all the games with space for up to 10,000 fans to congregate in front of the city's opera house. Another 5,000 fans can watch proceedings from in front of the Gewandhaus concert hall. 300,000 visitors are expected during the course of the World Cup.

Other attractions include an exhibition dedicated to that most-hated of footballing specimens -- the referee. "The Lord of the Rules" exhibition takes place at the Leipzig History Museum.

There's also an international variety show "Ballrausch" which will stage a mixed bill of acrobatics, theater and football.

And, if that's not enough, the city's endless cultural attractions are a sure crowd-pleaser. Johann Sebastian Bach was resident there for over 25 years and the Leipzig Opera House is world famous for its performances of Richard Wagner.

MUNICH

Munich hosts the opening ceremony and first game of the 2006 World Cup, as well as one of the semi-finals. Fans unable to obtain a ticket can head to the Olympic Park, which provides an impressive backdrop for Munich's World Cup celebrations. There, the lakeside amphitheater will provide space for up to 20,000 fans to cheer on their team. The 60-square-meter screen and a concert stage will be situated on pontoons in the middle of the lake.

On June 6, a classical concert featuring renowned tenor Placido Domingo will take place in the Olympic Stadium. The "Three Orchestras and Stars" concert will also feature the German band Die Söhne Mannheims, including frontman Xavier Naidoo.

Various Munich sporting clubs will encourage fans with a competitive spirit to participate in a spontaneous kick-about in the huge Olympic Park.

Elsewhere, construction of the spectacular "Allianz Arena" finished recently. It's outer skin, which changes color, is sure to be an attraction for visiting football fans and architecture buffs alike. The arena was designed by Swiss star architect duo Herzog and de Meuron.

Last but not least, Munich's famous beer halls will no doubt be full to the brim with fans eager so sample the real taste of Bavaria. To rehearse your singing voice for those beer hall chants, the Kammerspiele ensemble is presenting "Men - An evening of soccer songs" in the Schauspielhaus.

NUREMBERG

Determined to show off the best of a city remembered by many international visitors till now only for Nazi party parades and war crimes trials, Nuremberg is pulling out all the stops for its Fan Fest.

The Volksfestplatz, near to the football stadium, will show all the games on a 60-square-meter screen, where up to 40,000 spectators will watch the games live and passions will no doubt run high.

In between games, music acts and other entertainment will keep the crowds in good spirits. Nuremberg's beer gardens will be a draw for many fans. The Fränkisches Bierdorf has space for 1,500 thirsty fans, while the Tucher Biergarten can pack in up to 3,000 spectators looking to celebrate a win or to drown their sorrows.

There's a special children's area to keep the kids happy, a sports park where fans can arrange impromptu soccer games and even a spa zone for those looking to chill-out or take a break from football mania.

STUTTGART

Stuttgart's central Schlossplatz will host all those fans seeking a bit of atmosphere yet unable to get into the stadium. Four large screens will surround the Jubilaumssaüle (Jubilee Column) allowing fans to enjoy all the games and drink themselves silly between 11 a.m. and 1 a.m. every day of the World Cup. 80,000 fans are expected to fill the square every day.

Acts booked to appear live on stage and entertain fans include The Supremes and DJ Sasha.

Outside the city center, the market square in Bad Cannstatt will show the tournament's crunch fixtures, with room for up to 3,000 fans.

Those fans tired of drinking pints of beer can head to Schiller Square. There Stuttgart's famous "Wine Village" will allow guests to sample some of the local grape varieties.

Auto-enthusiasts should not miss the new Mercedes-Benz museum near the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium.

And, expect a youthful, vibrant atmosphere. Stuttgart hosts the UNESCO World Youth Festival from July 2-10. Thousands of young people from around the world will descend on the city and join in the World Cup festivities.

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