More than 14,000 people in Hong Kong visited a cultural festival featuring celebrations of the German capital of Berlin over a three-day period in early October.
The Berlin Fest 2016, which included authentic German beer, music and films, was designed to provide visitors with a taste of the German capital – described by organisers as “the coolest city on the planet”.
“We started first Berlin Fest in 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. After the success of the 2014 fest, we decided to continue and hold it annually,” said Timothy Wong, an official of German Consulate General Hong Kong.
— Eric Cheung (@EricCheungwc) 9 October 2016
The event was co-organized by the German Consulate General Hong Kong and VisitBerlin, the official tourism board of Berlin. The PMQ, the former police married quarters revitalised as a local creative hub in Central, hosted the festival from 7 to 9 October.
A red Berlin Buddy Bear painted with messages like “Welcome friends” in Chinese was placed conspicuously at the center of the front square. Organisers explained that the bear was a symbol of Germany’s willingness to promote friendliness and optimism all over the world.
A German student in Hong Kong, who gave her name as Denise, said the event reminded her of home. “The activities at the festival is similar to what we usually have in Germany during autumn time,” she added.
Various performances and events, such as hip-hop dance shows, football shootout contests, and wheel of fortune games, took place at different times during the event.
PMQ’s central courtyard was also filled with original Berlin beach chairs – occupied by visitors as they enjoyed beer and German sausages bought from the neighbouring stalls.
A first-year student from the University of Hong Kong, who gave her name as Priscilla, came to the festival after coming across a promotion on Facebook. “It was not exactly what [I] thought, but the food and beer are good enough for me to enjoy the time,” she said.
Schmidt Vinothek, a German wine retailer who set up a stall during the event, was pleased with the atmosphere at the festival.
“We were invited by the German Consulate because we are selling German products,” said Winnie Wong, who works at the retailer. “People have shown a lot of interests in our winery, and that’s good for us.”
Besides the retailer, the festival also featured four vendors offering German-themed liquors and alcoholic beverages, including Biergarten German Bar & Restaurant, Brotzeit Hong Kong, Solar Max, as well as Früh Kölsch.
Germany is famous for its Oktoberfest celebrations that usually take place between late-September and early-October. In particular, beer is widely consumed during the time.
Karsten Tietz, Deputy Consul General of the German Consulate, said it was his pleasure to welcome Hongkongers to enjoy the festival German atmosphere in October.
“I hope people enjoy tasting authentic German food and drinks, and maybe consider visiting Berlin if they like it.”