Gorch Fock (left) escorted by Sea Cloud at 790. port anniversary 1964

Port Anniversary History

In 1189, emperor Barbarossa declared Hamburg's port a custom-free zone. This event's anniversary has been celebrated since 1977.

Port Anniversary Hafengeburtstag History

Legend has it that the Hamburg Port Anniversary dates back to the days of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. On 7 May, 1189 he granted a tax exemption on trade in the Hamburg port area. This decision soon proved to be the turning point in Hamburg’s rise to power. In the centuries to come, the formerly modestly-sized town transformed into one of Europe’s most significant port cities.

No wonder that almost 830 years later, 7 May is still celebrated as the 'birthday' of Hamburg’s harbour — or its Hafengeburtstag, as the Germans call it. Since 1977, these celebrations have come in the shape of a large, weekend-long festival, including an almost unfathomable abundance of food stalls, live music and ship parades. This combination has proved to be a great annual success: Today, this 'birthday party' is the single largest port festival on the planet.

To learn more about the history of Hamburg’s port, click here.

History