“Cast off!” – Hamburg celebrates the world’s greatest port festival every May. The next festival will take place from 10 to 13 May 2018. Find information and pictures and stay up to date.

1 / 1

Harbour Birthday Hamburg

Welcome on board

When tugboats dance, tall ships are open to visitors, and luxury liners tour around the port, it can only mean one thing – Hamburg is celebrating its port. The 829th HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY will be held from Thursday 10 May to Sunday 13 May, in the unique setting of the Port of Hamburg, with a varied maritime programme for young and old. This year the world’s greatest port festival is extended to four days, taking advantage of the public holiday (Ascension Day). It will be held around Landungsbrücken, in the Speicherstadt warehouse district, in the HafenCity district with the heritage harbours and Grasbrookhafen, at the Fish Market, and at the Oevelgönne Museum Harbour.

Celebrations 2018

Visitors can look forward to a superlative maritime experience with more than 200 attractive programme items, starting with the Grand Arrival Parade on the Thursday, and ending with the Grand Departure Parade on the Sunday. Before the start of the spectacle on the Elbe and its banks, the International ecumenical opening service will be held at St. Michael’s Church at 14:30 on the Thursday. After that, the world’s greatest port festival will be opened by Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, by ringing the ship’s bell on the museum ship Rickmer Rickmers. A salute will be fired at 16:30 to welcome the ships and boats from all parts of the world in the Grand Arrival Parade. The close of festivities will be marked by the Grand Departure Parade at 18:00 on the Sunday.

Elbphilharmonie concerts on screen

The HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY is expanding its music programme in cooperation with the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra to include an open-air classic highlight. A concert by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra will be transmitted live from 20:00 onwards on 10 May 2018 from the Grand Hall of Elbphilharmonie, and projected live onto a screen at Platz der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Square) at the base of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. The Hamburg International Music Festival brings together the “Planets” suite by Gustav Holst and the “Star Wars” film music by John Williams, performed by Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. Classical music enthusiasts will also be well served on the other days of the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY, with screening of selected concerts from the first year of the Elbphilharmonie.

See fascinating vessels of all kind, up close

More than 300 ships from all areas of maritime activity will be there for the 829th HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. They include majestic tall ships such as the Kruzenshtern, Mir, Sedov and Alexander von Humboldt II, lovingly restored museum vessels such as the seagoing tugboats Elbe and Holland and the lightship Borkumriff, and modern cruise ships. Other vessels participating include the frigate Augsburg, service vessels of the waterways police and firefighters, customs and other authorities and institutions. Most of the vessels invite visitors on board for an Open Ship visit – a must for maritime enthusiasts of all ages.

Dancing tugs, thrilling competitions, and sail taster trips

The programme highlights include the unique Tugboat Ballet at 18:00 on the Saturday, with a big tugboat this year alongside the usual four tugs; sea rescue exercises with a helicopter on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons; and the 3rd HafenCity Championships at Grasbrookhafen. The patron of the sporting event is Senator Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics, Transport and Innovation. Sailing regattas and dragon boat races will be held, and the sailing clubs Hamburger Segler-Verband e.V. and Mühlenberger Segel-Club e.V. invite children and adults to get a taste of sailing.

Dream ships on show

A touch of the exotic and holiday flair is generated by the biggest guests at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY – the cruise ships. A total of eleven cruise ships will be mooring in Hamburg on the four days of the festival. AIDA Cruises, which has extended its commitment as principal sponsor of the world’s greatest port festival up to and including 2020, is represented by three vessels at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY – they are the AIDAvita, AIDAperla and AIDAsol, instantly recognisable as AIDA from their kissing lips logo. When the AIDAperla sets sail at 21:45 on the Saturday evening, she will be lit up by the big AIDA Fireworks display in front of Landungsbrücken – a sparkling highlight of the world’s biggest port festival. Visitors can already enjoy the light show of the AIDAvita on the Friday evening. AIDA Cruises will also present itself at the Beachclub Hamburg del Mar and on the Marco-Polo Terraces.

South Africa Festival at Kehrwiederspitze

Partner country South AfricaEverything will be colourful and cheerful at Kehrwiederspitze – at the big South Africa Festival, hosted by this year’s country partner at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. The country at the Cape of Good Hope presents a colourful programme and serves visitors typical national dishes such as ostrich burgers and biltong (dried, cured meat), and local wines and beers. And, of course, people can also get information on attractive South African travel destinations and dream of their next holiday there.

On shore with free concerts, arts & crafts, and culinary specialities

There will be a real party mood on the Festival Promenade along the Elbe embankment. Artists from Germany and abroad will be performing on more than ten stages, giving free-of-charge concerts for every taste, including shanties, pop and rock, and heavy metal. The NDR (North German Broadcasting), for example, will present a varied programme with well-known bands and stars on its stage at the Old Elbe Tunnel.

Some 350 showmen and stand operators on the Festival Promenade will offer culinary specialities from all parts of the world. The fairground rides will thrill the children, and special event spaces guarantee fun for the whole family. New features include the Port Pirates on St. Michael’s Meadow, a bungee trampoline, and a climbing wall. Pirate Captain Markus invites all children aged 4 to 14 to join him in an exciting adventure. The museums in the Speicherstadt warehouse district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in the HafenCity will put on exhibitions and special activities for the world’s greatest port festival.

Come and join the parades

Many of the vessels in the parades offer visitors a chance to join them for the trip. An overview of events and other useful tips for the world’s greatest port festival are given at and from 8:00 to 20:00 every day on the Hamburg Tourism hotline: +49 40 30051300.

History back to 1189

The HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY dates back in legend to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who issued a charter to Hamburg merchants on 7 May 1189, granting freedom from customs duties for ships sailing the Elbe from Hamburg to the North Sea. This date has since then been considered the founding date of the Port of Hamburg, which is why the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY is celebrated at the weekend on or after 7 May each year. The 829th HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY will be held from 10 to 13 May 2018. 

HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY Program (The program for 2018 will be available in April 2018)

The Port of Hamburg

There are plenty of good reasons to celebrate the Port of Hamburg – it is by far Germany’s most important port, and one of the leading cargo handling centres anywhere in the world. It is the gateway to the markets in North, Central and Eastern Europe, a bridge between the continent of Europe and overseas markets, and one of the world’s major container ports. The Elbe waterfront is where the pulse of the city is at its most vibrant, with the new HafenCity district, the old Speicherstadt warehouse district, the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall, the Fish Market, and major musical theatres.

Highlights 2018

Festival Promenade (in german)
Thursday 10 May: 10:00 to 22:00
Friday 11 May 10:00 to 24:00
Saturday 12 May 10:00 to 24:00
Sunday 13 May 10:00 to 21:00

International ecumenical service (in german)
At the principal church St. Michaelis, Thursday 10 May 14:30

Grand Arrival Parade (in german)
Thursday 10 May 16:30

Tugboad Ballet (in german)
Saturday 12 May 18 to 18:45

Big AIDA Fireworks (in german) 
Saturday 12 May 21:45 

Grand Departure Parade (in german)
Sunday 13 May 18:00

Official Video




By S-Bahn: (S1 and S3) Station Landungsbrücken
By U-Bahn: (U3) Station Baumwall or Landungsbrücken. Once you arrive at the Landungsbrücken, you will be directly by the Harbour.