The Hamburg Elbfest festival celebrates the Hanseatic city’s long maritime tradition. The city's maritime heritage goes on full display across Hamburg, including at the Museum Port Oevelgönne, the Hansahafen and the Sandtorhafen Museum Port, as well as in over 50 historic barges, steamers, sailors and more. Elbfest is a wonderful opportunity for the city to celebrate its historical ships and it is made possible by the hard work of over 3,000 Hamburg residents who volunteer their time to preserve their city’s maritime culture and history.
Hamburg.Elbfest 3.0 in 2021
Elbfest 3.0 took place 18-19 September, 2021, attracting around 12,000 attendees. Complete with music, a maritime market, open ships, delicious food, a traditional ship parade and other activities, there was a full programme for visitors to enjoy throughout the weekend. This somewhat smaller edition of the Elbfest is but a taste of what’s to come in future years with larger festivals, when other historical ships, including the beloved Peking, will also find their proper place in the festivities.
The Elbfest is organized by the Maritime Hamburg cultural network under the leadership of the Hamburg Historical Museums Foundation (SHMH), the Hamburg Maritim Foundation (SHM) and the Museum Port Oevelgönne with the kind support of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and HafenCity GmbH.
Experience historical ships up close
Visitors could experience historical ships up close at Elbfest.Hamburg 3.0. The programme included guided tours, with the ships’ crews introducing themselves, answering questions and giving insights into the ships. But that's not all: rides were offered as well, so visitors could even experience the old ships in motion with the skyline of Hamburg as a stunning backdrop.
The highlight of the weekend was the traditional ship parade, which started on Sunday, 19 September at 1.30 p.m. The participating ships gathered in the Hansahafen at 1 p.m. and then proceeded to present Hamburg's maritime heritage in a convoy on the Elbe. The parade proceeded and in all its glory down the river past Hamburg's city coast towards Teufelsbrück and back again. A list of the participating ships can be found in the event programme on the German version of this article. Rides on ships participating in the traditional ship parade were also possible, through the Hamburg Maritime Foundation and the Museum Port Oevelgönne, among others.
Hamburg.Elbfest 3.0 Programme
There was a lively programme to discover on Saturday and Sunday at the traditional ship harbour in the Sandtorhafen Museum Port in HafenCity (11745968): guided tours on the Lieger Caesar houseboat, performance art, live music (including traditional sea shanties), a maritime market and food stalls.
Live music, art and culinary delights
Audiences could enjoy music, comedy and other performance acts throughout the weekend at the Sandtorhafen Museum Port. Some local German favourites made appearances, making this a wonderful opportunity for visitors to learn something about North Germany comedy and music stylings. The harbor bar was also hopping, with DJs providing the musical entertainment there.
Visitors to the Sandtorhafen Museum Port were also treated to a contemporary art show: the computer-controlled SKRYF mobile by Gijs van Bon created maritime messages made of sand and the artist Lydia Hitzfeld conjured up 3D images on the ground.
On Saturday, 18 September, boat fans could also catch the elbfischer-ewer Catarina and the elbfischerkutter Greta at the Sandtorhafen Museum Port. In the Hansahafen, the steamship Schaarhörn organised ship tours all weekend. Visitors could also discover the historic port railway on Saturday and visit the Deutsches Hafenmuseum port museum during the regular opening times.
To view the complete programme for Hamburg.Elbfest 3.0, visit the German version of this page and scroll to the bottom.