My island is a boat

828. Hamburg Port's Birthday

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Hamburg celebrates its 'Waterkant' at the beginning of May, and the whole world celebrates with it. hamburg ahoi went looking for intriguing stories that will showcase people and their boats. Their search has taken them not only to the port, but also off the beaten water tracks.


Lena Frommeyer

Lena Frommeyer is a journalist by trade. She searches for topics in the niches of society and surveys the cultural landscape.

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To stand on the banks of the Elbe, matjes herring sandwich in hand, and watch container ships while the onion rings blow in the breeze – it's one of those north German moments that Hamburg life is all about. The port stirs hearts, however Frisian and cold they may be. Once a year, Hamburg celebrates its 'Waterkant', and the whole world celebrates with it.

Soon, more than a million visitors will arrive on the Elbe for the port's 828th birthday, to gaze in awe at 300 marine vessels including tall ships, supply tenders and cruise liners. Led by the Cap San Diego, the largest seaworthy museum cargo ship in the world, they will sail into the port on 5 May 2017 with all flags flying to open the festival weekend.

Highlights of the port's 828th birthday:

Reception: Grand Entry Parade, 5.5., 5.00pm, along Harbour Mile

Dancing: Tugboat Ballet, Saturday, 6.5., 6.00-6.45pm, Landungsbrücken

Food: Nantes France Festival Market, 5.-7.5., Kehrwiederspitze

Finale: Departure Parade On Sunday, 7 May, 5.30pm, along Harbour Mile

Afterhour: Alternative Port Birthday, Balduintreppe

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For many Hamburg citizens, however, the port is far more than the perfect place for an excursion. They spend their days and nights on the water, because they work or live here. This includes the hard-working boatmen who deliver food to the big cargo ships in their supply tenders, and the creative free spirits whose chosen refuge is the embankments of the canals that flow through the city.

hamburg ahoi met up with three members of the increasingly diverse water community, and will tell their stories here just in time for the Port Birthday. It's clear enough that more Hamburg residents now want to take to the water – using the space for cultural freedom is one of their purposes.

Join us in “collecting boats”: take photos of Hamburg's water vessels – sailing yachts, rafts, dinghies – and post your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #boatsofhamburgahoi. We'll display the best ones in a gallery.