Discover theatre magic in Hamburg and speed up cultural revival

Cultural slump causing headaches for providers
22 November 2022
Weihnachtsshow 2022 Engel rot Dennis Mundkowski

Event promoters in Hamburg are grappling with a lull in ticket sales in the run-up to the normally brisk Christmas season. Ongoing inflation and the effects of the pandemic are dampening enthusiasm, although consumer sentiment stabilised in October, according to the GFK consumer climate study. However, an all-clear or trend reversal is not yet in sight. "Given the sharp rise in energy prices, households will have to spend significantly more on heating in future. That money will not be available for other purchases and consumer spending is likely to remain low in the coming months," the survey found. Yet, Christmas shows all over Hamburg are offering entertaining distraction from personal worries for a while. The First Stage Theatre in Hamburg Altona became a "Winter Wonderland" in early November with plenty of Christmas glitter. The 6th Great Christmas Show under the theme of "Tradition meets Christmas 2.0" and the cast of 50 people features lots of dancing, acting and singing in almost 30 acts.

Christmas on stage and downtown

Schmidts Tivoli is staging a Christmas version of its cult musical "Heiße Ecke" on Tuesday (November 22, 2022) with new songs and Christmas carols. The musical has attracted 2.5 million guests since 2003 on St. Pauli.  Visitors can sip on mulled wine in the theatre's own Christmas market. The adjacent Schmidt's Winterglitzer at the Schmidt Theater am Spielbudenplatz is due to open Thursday (November 24, 2022) with a quirky show hosted by duo Elke Winter and Nik Breidenbach complete with pyjama party, wacky humour and glitz. The slightly different Christmas market aka Santa Pauli on the Reeperbahn will open its red and pink doors to live music and a bar with a fireplace until December 23. The historic Christmas market outside City Hall is among the well-known and most popular Christmas markets. This year's highlights include a Santa Claus, who flies over the market three times a night and tells a Christmas story, in addition to 80 stalls selling all kinds of delicacies and gifts. Santa Claus will take to the skies from November 21 to December 23 while the Winter Forest at Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz remains opens until December 30. 


Christmas at "Heißen Ecke"
© Brinkhoff Mögenburg
Christmas at "Heißen Ecke“
Monet's Garden
© Lukas Schulze
Immersive exhibition: Monet's Garden

Monet or the "War of Independence"  

Other cultural highlights in Hamburg include an immersive, 360-degree exhibition on Monet's Garden, which opened in early November in Ottensen. Visitors can travel back in time and view the works of Claude Monet (1840-1926). Cutting-edge multimedia technology immerses visitors into the world of the French painter in which illusions become reality. Elaborate installations and projections, combined with music, create rushing worlds of colour and make the paintings come alive and tangible.

The latest Stage Entertainment musical, "Hamilton" offers fans of musicals a quantum leap with the story of the American founding fathers and Alexander Hamilton. This universal theme highlights the fate of the protagonist, who makes it from rags to riches with verve and intelligence, and his fight for independence and democracy. Stage Entertainment invested around EUR 13 million in the German premiere in early October and now this fast-paced musical fans is bringing hip-hop and R&B enthusiasts as well as young, social media-savvy people who have come across Hamilton on Instagram or YouTube into theatres. Successful new productions are hugely profitable for Hamburg, which is the third largest musical hotspot after New York and London.


Need for visitors

Big musical productions - from "Hamilton" to "The Lion King", which has already attracted well over 14 million  fans since its premiere in December 2001, are now drawing growing audience numbers. "Visitor numbers are back to pre-coronavirus levels. But a year and a half of lockdowns cannot be compensated for quickly," Stephan Jaekel, Press Officer of Stage Entertainment GmbH, told Hamburg News. However, for many smaller theatres, 50 per cent occupancy is the new "sold out", which is not exactly music to the ears of Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media. Speaking in his capacity as president of the Association of German Theatres and Orchestras, Brosda noted the "frightening and worrying figures".

Hamilton Hamburg, Johan Persson, 16.11
© Johan Persson
Harry Potter
© Manuel Harlan
Harry Potter im Mehr! Theater Hamburg

Cultural campaigns 

The third funding phase of "Neustart Kultur" "back to stage", launched in October, should improve prospects for private theatres. This is a continuation of the German government's multi-billion rescue fund for culture and media from 2020. A so-called culture pass is to follow in 2023 to get young people excited about culture. Youths who turn 18 next year will receive vouchers of EUR 200. The government has set aside EUR 100 million for the pilot project: "We want to open up the path to culture," said Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture. The "Gönn Dir Kultur" campaign and the video "Unsere Kultur - einfach magisch" (Our culture - simply magical) draw attention to the colourful cultural mix in Hamburg. Based on "Harry Potter and the Enchanted Child" and the painting "Wanderer over the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich in the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the video encourages people to discover culture in Hamburg. "The new film welcomes our guests to Hamburg to rekindle interest in culture here," said Brosda.