Winter in Berlin is frigid, but one event is red hot. The Berlin International Film Festival, called "Berlinale", takes place every February in Berlin. It is one of the most exciting events in Germany, as well as one of the most prestigious film events in the world and the most accessible to film fans.
Get ready for two weeks packed with movies, stars, glamour, and parties. Prepare to see international superstars walk the red carpet and soon-to-be-legendary films...if you can score a ticket. To make the most out of your Berlinale, read our festival tips as well as visitor's guide to the Berlin Film Festival.
Many movie tickets can be purchased starting Monday, February 4th at exactly 10:00am. More tickets will continue to be released 3 days before their screening. Don't wait until the last minute to avoid sold out shows.
That said, the program is only published in late January. Create an account on the website to get the latest news and plan your schedule.
Tickets can be purchased at over ticket counters and other advance ticket outlets, or online via the Berlinale website. Payment for online tickets is by credit card or via Sofortüberweisung (note you will need you’ll need an Eventim account.) Print tickets to avoid the line.
All films will be screened three or four times during the festival with weekday mornings or early afternoons the easiest times to buy tickets.
Get your daily dose of celebrity on the red carpet just outside the Berlinale Palast (Marlene-Dietrich Platz 2). Stars are prepared to serve looks and sign autographs so people often lign up for the big productions several hours before the primiere. Zoo Palast and Friedrichstadtpalast also host a few red carpet sessions.
Another way to see your favorite actor is to take in a cup of coffee at the Hotel Hyatt, just opposite of the Berlinale Palast, where the festival hosts its VIPs.
Watch an Unusual Film
The Berlin Film Festival is a great place to watch films you would never see anywhere else. Coming from countries around the world and in all genres, seize this opportunity to see the best of world cinema. They may not always be what you expect as some are experimental from equipment to shooting style to story line, but embrace the experience.
Rest assured that every non-English movie comes with English subtitles so at least you will be able to understand the dialogue.
Dress Up...in Layers
Bundle up to get from one theater to the next: Berlin can be freezing in February. Potsdamer Platz, the heart of the Berlin Film Festival, is an especially windy spot.
Early Bird Catches the Movie
Having a ticket doesn't necessarily guarantee you a good seat (or, if you are in a group, seats next to each other). Expect lines in front of the theaters, so come at least 30 minutes before the film starts.
And this is Germany - late admittance is not allowed.
Meet the Cast and Crew
After many Berlinale screenings, the director and main cast of the film will be on hand for a Q&A. Don't plan anything right after your film and stay for these interesting talks (lasting between 15 and 30 minutes).
Attend a Special Event
The Berlinale shows more than 400 international films each year - but wait, there is more than that:
Check out the Berlinale Talent Campus, where you can meet young filmmakers from all over the world and visit lively talks, workshops and panels with A-list actors and directors.
Follow your tastebuds to the Culinary Cinema, which combines movies with fine dining; an exquisite menu, inspired by a film, is served by some of Germany's top chefs.
Saving Money at the Berlinale
Berlinale ticket prices vary from 5 for special screenings all the way to 16 euros.
Discounted tickets are also available for students and low-income viewers at half price for same-day tickets. Anyone can look for discounts about a half hour before a screening starts with left-over tickets selling for 50% off.
Or plan on visiting for Berlinale Publikumstag (February 17th, 2019), where the stars may have left, but the movies play on. For these days, prices drop to €10 per screening.
Where to Eat
Need some energy for the next film? There are plenty of restaurants, eateries and café chains at Potsdamer Platz; for a cheap snack, check out the basement floor of the shopping mall "Arkaden", where you'll find international fast food and German supermarkets.