Arts, culture, politics (and boats) at 128th Kieler Woche

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This weekend sees the start of Kieler Woche, one of Europe’s largest summer festivals and a not-to-be-missed event for anyone who’s a fan of sailing, singing, art, politics, engineering, food... In fact, almost anything at all.

That Kieler Woche is such a panoply probably accounts for the phenomenal number of visitors that attend every year - over three million people from 80 countries are expected to descend on the sleepy German town of Kiel for this, the 128th iteration of the event.

The week is ostensibly about the water, welcoming over 5,000 yachters for more than 400 planned regattas that take place in the Bay of Kiel, making Kieler Woche the largest sailing event in the world in its own right.

For most people though, the stunning array of onshore events organized by the Town of Kiel eclipses what’s happening out at sea.

Kieler Woche is the biggest open-air festival in Germany, bringing together musicians, opera singers, actors, comedians, artists and acrobats in a performing arts hodgepodge reminiscent of the Edinburgh Festival.

Over 1,000 events are scheduled over nine days, beginning with a spectacular opening ceremony and ending with a parade of ships on the water.

For children, the event also claims to host Germany’s biggest cultural children’s attraction, the Spiellinie, which has this year been transformed into 57,000 square meters of magical play and workshop areas dedicated to the Wizard of Oz.

Hundreds of parents have volunteered to build the complex, which has an Emerald City at its heart where children are encouraged to get creative, along with bandstands that will be hosting popular children’s music groups and workshops.

Visitors of a more serious mindset are well catered for by the Kieler Woche Discussion Week, which hosts its own science week, roundtable discussions between parliamentary delegates from the Nordics and states adjoining the Baltic Sea, and the Global Economy Prize, awarded by the Kiel Institute for World Economy.

Kieler Woche runs June 19 - 27 in Kiel, Germany. Entry is free.