Bright Lights, Big City Nocturnal Festival Puts Berlin Monuments in the Limelight

Over 50 of Berlin's best known sights will be illuminated in the city's annual Festival of Lights, which begins Wednesday. Visitors and locals will have the chance to admire firework displays, visit museums by night and take "light tours" by bike, boat, limousine and hot air balloon.
Winter in the German capital means that it gets dark earlier. Which is all the better for Berlin's annual Festival of Lights, which runs for two weeks in October.

Winter in the German capital means that it gets dark earlier. Which is all the better for Berlin's annual Festival of Lights, which runs for two weeks in October.

Foto: AP

For the next two weeks, Berlin's best known buildings, monuments and thoroughfares will glow with brilliantly colored lights. The city's annual Festival of the Lights, which first took place four years ago, runs from Oct. 14 until Oct. 25.

The festival starts with a fireworks display at Alexanderplatz in the heart of what was once communist East Berlin and finishes with a night-time athletics race, the 10 kilometer "Light Run" through the center of the city, taking in many of the German capital's best known landmarks. According to the festival organizer's Web site , which also features a schedule of events, over 55 sights are being illuminated in colored lights, including the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, the Victory Column and remnants of the Berlin Wall.

Fotostrecke

Photo Gallery: Painting the Town

Foto: A3464 Rainer Jensen/ dpa

Also on the festival schedule are a variety of cultural events. There is an exhibition of "light art" by Berlin-based and international artists from as far away as Israel and South Korea. Various museums and galleries will open their doors until later at night and there will also be a photo exhibition of the best pictures of the illuminated sites in the central city. Additionally jazz musicians will be playing nightly on the grounds of Germany's state ministries in central Berlin.

It will also be possible to take a tour of the illuminated city -- the lights stay on between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. every evening of the festival -- by foot, bicycle, limousine or boat. Weather permitting, there will even be a tour by hot air balloon.

A handful of couples have booked in to be wed at night, on the top floors of buildings with the best views of the newly colorful metropolis. And canny commercial interests are also taking advantage of opportunities that the Festival of Lights presents. One firm is offering a "Queen of Lights" cosmetics treatment, various hotels are doing deals on rooms with the best views of lit-up monuments and bars and restaurants are touting themed meals alongside "light cocktails."

cis -- with wires
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