"Berlin lacht" (Berlin laughs) is the name of a street festival in the German capital. Yes, Berlin actually laughs over a period of six weeks, 10 hours a day - making for 420 hours of diaphragm training altogether. That's serious stuff.
Some people even end up crying, especially at the location where the street performers set up their act: in the middle of Berlin on Alexanderplatz, where several Berliners stop laughing once they realized they've been robbed by pickpockets.
But let's leave such petty matters aside: Berlin in the summer is unique; it's beyond compare.
I'm not the only one whose so excited about it: "Berlin at this time of the year is fantastic, I never leave the city," the painter Jonas Burgert told me.
We met at a bar with a fabulous view over the Spree River and the Reichstag, where we could enjoy the setting sun, glittering waves and the chugging of the boats passing by. The best part of it: Not a single politician was around to disrupt the idyll. They were out bothering the suburbs - thanks to the current election campaign.
You don't need to be a fan of the Vegan Street Festival or to believe in the promises of the Berlin Night of Shooting Stars (up to 100 in one night!) to be happy with Berlin's cultural summer. Dancing and drumming at the open house day held at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is only conditionally subject to entertainment tax, too.
Summer fun with promising young talents
Berlin in the summer offers so much more. As throughout the rest of the year, you'd need several doppelgänger to get to see everything going on. Surprisingly enough, that's the case even without the highly subsidized state theaters and orchestras, which are off on their well-deserved holidays. Along the way, many of the musicians from Berlin's six symphony orchestras help out at the music festivals in Bayreuth and Salzburg, in search of a musical climax they perhaps no longer find in their routine at home.
Meanwhile, youth orchestras had a blast at the Young Euro Classic festival at the Konzerthaus Berlin, during which the whiz kid Dmitry Masleev ignited pianistic fire with the International Tchaikovsky Youth Orchestra Yekaterinburg, allowing us to forget Putin's ugly mug for a moment by showing Russia's cultivated face.
The Waldbühne experience
Idealism is always possible in Berlin - and it's even more beautiful outside. The Waldbühne amphitheater offers an unforgettable experience, provided that the weather gods play their parts.
I love to go there for a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic or, recently, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, with students from Israel and Arab countries. Conductor Daniel Barenboim brought them together, presenting them at their best, along with the spectacular Martha Argerich at the piano.
I was sitting there with friends from Washington, Ljubjana and Berlin among 18,000 listeners and could feel this vibe. What a feast - for the ears, the palate (thanks to the well-filled wine jugs) and the eyes.
It's incredible: You just can't get enough of looking around the Waldbühne. The atmosphere lets you forget that it was built by the Nazis as a part of the area surrounding the Olympic Stadium.
UFA Film Nights on the Museum Island
For me, the Waldbühne is only topped by the historical backdrop of Berlin's Museum Island, where masterpieces of cinema are projected onto a big screen erected in the Colonnade Courtyard of the island for the UFA Film Nights.
"Here, time becomes space," is a Richard Wagner quote that can be turned the other way around during the film nights: That space offers different dimensions of time.
The digitally restored version of the 1927 film "The Love of Jeanne Ney" celebrated its premiere surrounded by the historical facades designed by Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Performing the live score, the WDR Funkhausorchester conducted by Frank Strobel added a third dimension to this unique composition of images, sound and architecture.
For me, it doesn't feel like Berlin laughs, but rather Berlin marvels! - with a hint of melancholy. Because every summer ends one day.
Gero Schliess (eg)