Berlin’s (seriously amazing) 2014 Festival of Lights

Berlin’s Festival of Lights, which is held for 10 nights every October, prides itself as ‘One of the world’s largest illumination festivals’ and it certainly didn’t disappoint. As a fan of anything light related I was so excited when I realized we would actually be in town for it. It seems like everywhere we have been we always miss the ‘big thing’ by just a few days, but thanks to our 2.5 month stay in Berlin we weren’t going to miss this one!

Festival of Lights baby!!

Festival of Lights baby!!

The festival opened on Friday, October 10th and we hit the streets around 8pm, cameras in hand, to join in the festivities. According to their website the festival normally draws about 2,000,000 tourists and i’m pretty sure they were all out that first night :). We have been in Berlin for just over 2 months and I dont think we have ever seen crowds like this. It definitely was annoying when trying to get particular shots and I couldnt get over the number of people that would just step right in front of our lens, especially at popular stops like the ‘I <3 Berlin’ sign.

We stood here for about 30 minutes trying to get a clear shot. This was the best we got.

We stood here for about 30 minutes trying to get a clear shot. This was the best we got.

Side note to the organizers, set the letters 6ft off the ground and you’d be doing all of us a favor! Crowd annoyances aside it really was an amazing festival and we loved spending a few hours wandering the city and taking it all in. I will admit though, after the festival was over the night skyline looked a little boring :).

Here are some of our favorites, enjoy:

The Festival Headquarters were at Potsdamer Platz so we headed there first.

The Festival Headquarters were at Potsdamer Platz so we headed there first.

While the building light displays in the Platz were less intersting (mostly because of the amount of ambient light), the street kaleidoscopes were really cool.

While the building light displays in the Platz were less intersting (mostly because of the amount of ambient light), the street kaleidoscopes were really cool.

It was amazing to see the whole skyline lit up!

It was amazing to see the whole skyline lit up! And yes, a tripod would have been helpful 🙂

While most of the buildings participating in the event had beautiful displays, the ones we liked most were the dynamic examples:

Brandenburg Gate – Definitely created as a centerpiece of the festival, we sat for about 10 minutes at the Brandenburg Gate watching the show. We’re convinced that there was supposed to be music, so we’ll chalk it up to first night hiccups.

Colours of Joy was the theme of this year's festival.

Colours of Joy was the theme of this year’s festival.

Just in case it's hard to tell this is a sunflower :)

Just in case it’s hard to tell this is a sunflower 🙂

This was my favborite

This was my favorite

When they got to the 'fireworks' show we were 100% convinced there was definitely supposed to be music :)

When they got to the ‘fireworks’ show we were 100% convinced there was definitely supposed to be music 🙂

We then made our way from the Brandenburg Gate towards Museum Island. Just before reaching the island we found our second favorite dynamic display:

Hotel De Rome – Tucked away on the side of a plaza I’m not sure if everyone made it to the hotel, but if they did it was quite a treat! There was a rotating display of about 8 – 10 images. These, in our expert artistic opinion, were the best:

Yup, that's a whole lot of grapes.

That’s a whole lot of grapes.

I think this should be their permanent facade.

I think this should be their permanent facade.

Venice anyone? It's odd that they never showed a picture of Rome :)

Venice anyone? It’s odd that they never showed a picture of Rome 🙂

The picture's good, but this one was amazing in person!

The picture’s good, but this one was amazing in person!

Finally we headed to Museum Island for the Berlin Cathedral. After the Brandenburg Gate the cathedral had the largest crowd, which was pretty impressive considering it was about 12am by the time we got there. The music and the people added to the experience though and it was fun hearing all of the ooh’s and aah’s as the facade was transformed.

Berlin Catheral 

You could even watch the TV tower and it's 'disco ball' display

You could even watch the TV tower and it’s ‘disco ball’ display

Again, a tripod would have made all the difference and we seemed to be the only ones not carrying one around.

Again, a tripod would have made all the difference and we seemed to be the only ones not carrying one around.

Tripod or not it was still amazing to watch!

Tripod or not it was still amazing to watch!

At the end of the night we had seen a variety of displays and it was clear that some artists had put a ton of work into their designs while others seemed to manage to basically just show up. We agreed that the evening had a clear ‘winner’ and ‘loser’, let’s see if you agree…

And the loser of the 2014 Festival of Lights was….drum roll….

The US Embassy and their completely boring Martin Luther King Jr. 'artistic' display. Come on guys, that's the best you could do?

The US Embassy and their completely boring Martin Luther King Jr. ‘artistic’ display. Come on guys, that’s the best you could do? Blah

And our winner of the 2014 Festival of Lights was….

The University of Humboldt. Holy crap it was insane! Not only were the colors amazing but the artist took the time to really mold the display to fit the building. We could have watched this one all night!

The University of Humboldt. Holy crap it was insane! Not only were the colors amazing but the artist took the time to really mold the display to fit the building. We could have watched this one all night!

If you have future plans to come to Berlin definitely try to schedule your trip to coincide with this festival!

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