I am a lover of all-night cultural events. In the past years I already explored many a european city on the occasion of an All-Nighter. Paris, actually, is a city I almost exclusively know by night.
Now, I recently moved to Wilhelmshaven and the Long Night of the Museums – as it is called in Germany – happened to be three weeks after my arrival. Contrary to my lovely Paris, in Germany these nights are hardly ever free of charge and unfortunately they seem to lack the enthusiasm of the cultural metropoles of France and Great Britian. Most events take place indoors, there are not many installations, plays or concerts in public places outside, artists of any kind (be it national or international) aren’t exactly planned to participate and usually the magic ends at midnight. The name already has it right. This night is for visiting museums and galleries after dark and doesn’t intend to be an arts festival. Still it is somewhat disappointing what most German cities do with the world renowned concept of a night-time art event. For me, this time, it gave me the chance to learn to know my new home a tad better, and blend in with the residents. Also, for a reasonable price I was able to visit all the major museums and “check them out”. The lack of atmosphere and charm was therefore acceptable.
The character of a city has its say in the events of the night and Wilhelmshaven is a simple naval base with hardly the cultural flow of Berlin. In hindsight I can really recommend to visit Heidelbergs Long Night. Being a university city it offers a huge number of possibilities and being comparativly small all the major events are close together, as is the audience. In WHV the different stations were stretched wider and the main street was completely exluded. A fact that really had you feel, as if only the museums in one part of the town had their doors open, while the rest of the city was fast asleep.
Nevertheless the Long Night in WHV still achieved the goal of all All-Nighters: it provideed a stage for a huge number of people to stroll the city and together meet at events, listen to readings, music and theater. I especially love these all-night events because people seem to be more relaxed, a little more involved and a lot more willing to actually enjoy a museum visit with strangers.
Still I pledge for the German cities to raise the bar. To dare something. To produce this overflowing creative athmosphere, to transform the city into an art space and enchant the visitor – residents and tourists. To – for one night – play it loud.