Berlin’s May Days are the heart of brightness

Hustle and bustle, grass and stabbings: The Berliner Zeitung wanted to go where it hurts and experienced surprises – the Neuköllner Hasenheide is a sparkling microcosm of diversity and has something to offer for everyone. We have compiled our experiences with the Volkspark in the heart of the city.

The dull bangs can be heard as far away as Paul-Lincke-Ufer. It’s 10 p.m. on Saturday evening and that’s the fireworks of the May days blowing over from the Hasenheide. It calls those who dine to it. Come on, it has to be rollercoaster, lotteries and scary. Come, call the beating and the flickering lights over the Kaufhof on Hermannplatz. Throw a ball at a pyramid of cans! Here we come, May days.

But for now it’s just dark. There are no lanterns on the way past the Hindu temple ruins or they have all been smashed. Either way, the district shrouds the park entrance in darkness. Scattered little groups with switched on mobile phone flashlights come towards us, on the way someone has set up camp in the middle of the park and is lighting a fire.

Can this be the way to Berlin’s biggest hype, which is to take place in the middle of the heath for the last time this year? If you don’t know, you can’t believe it. No sign, no sign guides those who are called. The bangs have now stopped, the glow of the fireworks has faded.


Go into the light!

But those who come out of the dark confirm when asked that we are in the right place, in the middle of the dewy nothingness of the park. But then a pounding, first dull, then clearer, bass from Shakira’s super hit of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. “Waka, Waka” sounds through the grove. “This time for Africa”. And finally, through a gap in the trees, sharp neon light in all facets of the color spectrum.

The wind blows piercing screams from above our heads. It has to be the 85 meter high Freefall Tower. The end of the dark avenue forms a glowing hole of light. We step through and it overflows us, the whole play of sounds and smells that a hype hides.

The eye cannot get enough of this abundance: man-high mouse costume dolls between corncob sellers with sunglasses, the so-called corn guys, cotton candy in children’s snouts, the 30-meter-long Beast, who beats people through the air like a gigantic drumstick. where to start All tempted.


As if you had traveled back to your own childhood

Then just at the beginning, in the cabinet of horrors. It’s not terribly creepy, but it’s frightening, because dummy inmates keep falling through double doors, monster babies jump out of floor flaps, piles of rags in human form on electric chairs twitch in spasmodic convulsions. At the end of the journey, spoiler alert, suddenly a real person under a death mask with a real chainsaw jumps at the car. The cheeks are red after the journey from a pleasant hysteria. The 6 euros are worth it.


The mouse and his comic version

All the rides, food stalls and gambling are located on either side of a 200 meter long path. At one end, that giant Freefall Tower, at the other, Atlantis, a water coaster with spinning rafts. But she is orphaned this evening, it is a bit chilly. We are now drawn to the largest of the lottery booths, the outrageously vanilla-colored “Stamp of Fortune”.

The floor is littered with thousands upon thousands of rivets and duplicates. The life-size pastel rainbow llamas hover five meters above our heads together with all the stuffed bear species “Fluffy Ursidae”, but there are only small prizes in the raffle bag. That’s not bad.

It’s great fun just tossing paper on the floor in the center of this huge waste of light energy. In general, a visit to the Maienetage is like a kind of vacation from environmental protection.


Worshiping Fortuna while the man with the rubber Rolex yells WinWinWinWin

Now let’s go to the wild mouse. What sounds harmless causes fear of death. More like an escaped, crazed rat from the animal testing lab, the four-seater screeches around the sharp turns, counterintuitively for tipping over. If you look at the opposite side of the fairgrounds, you get a taste of the macabre showmen’s humor.

There is a painting of Michael Schumacher who looks like he is paralyzed on one side of his face. He’s pictured in front of an Aral-style gas station called “Ab Normal.” It advertises with the slogan: “Everything’s fine!” We’re now racing towards a metal pole that should behead us in a moment. Fractions of a second before the decapitation, however, the car sags and the ride ends shortly thereafter. It’s all ok!


Abnormal, but everything is fine

For the grand finale, the Ferris wheel is recommended. With it you climb up over the whole hustle and bustle, it gets quieter, everything from Neukölln Town Hall to the TV tower appears on the horizon. Between us and the rest of the city, darkness. We float in the heart of brightness.

And now politics: The May Days have to get out of Hasenheide. Until next weekend it’s still rattling, flashing and smoking in the park, then it’s over. But can it go on at all for Berlin’s last big traditional hype? And if, how and where?

The district office of Neukölln, as the organizer of the annual party, is clear: the May Days are a folk festival in the truest sense of the word and therefore a value in itself. 100,000 visitors come every year. Predicate: worth protecting. But this future, according to the administration, “is not a local decision, but a city-wide one”. According to district spokesman Christian Berg.


Followed the light, arrived in heaven

The people of Neukölln want to hold the festival on Tempelhofer Feld, more precisely: on the apron of the former airport building. That’s their plan A. The location is ideal, they say: big enough for long beasters and free-falling towers. It is a completely concreted area where not a blade of grass would be bent. In addition, it is almost in Neukölln – the district border is only a few hundred meters further.

The difficult search for a new place for the hype

But nothing is likely to come of the move from the May days to the field. The Senate Economic Administration has taken on the search for an alternative location and found out: The apron is fully booked for the next few years in May. The global racing series Formula E has rented the site for May 2023 and May 2024. Who wants to know what Formula E is? This weekend the 335 hp speedsters are back in Tempelhof, they can reach speeds of up to 240 km/h. wild mouse.

And now, District Office Neukölln? Just block Columbiadamm or Hermannstrasse for four weeks.