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Leipzig – Creative City

Art, design, literature and scene – Leipzig keeps setting trends

For the young and creative, Leipzig is no longer an insider tip. Word has spread that the city’s working and living conditions are just right and three universities with an artistic or cultural profile as well as Leipzig University constantly feed the pool of ideas. Leipzig is known throughout the world for its vibrant arts, music and festival scene. Therefore the city in the East of Germany does not only appeal to artists and actors, but is also a trendy destination for individual travelers.


Leipzig’s dynamic art scene enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. Its prime site is Spinnerei,  formerly the largest cotton mill of continental Europe and located in the trendy Plagwitz district. Since its decommissioning in 1992, the factory has been subject to constant change. Artists have developed the cotton mill into a real cosmos of art. Meanwhile about 100 of them have their own studios at the Spinnerei, along with 12 galleries and the non-profit space Halle 14. Key figure of the so-called “New Leipzig School” is artist Neo Rauch, who was among the first to set up his studio in the Spinnerei. The waiting list for his paintings seems to be getting longer by the day. Hollywood star Brad Pitt’s purchase of one of his works provided the last proof: The modern figurative painting movement from Leipzig is enjoying spectacular success. www.spinnerei.de

After being housed in temporary venues for 61 years, Leipzig’s brand-new Museum of Fine Arts was finally opened in 2004. This ‘art cube’ (architects: Hufnagel Pütz Rafaelian/Berlin) is the first large new museum to have been built in eastern Germany since 1945. Museum highlights include a large collection of Flemish and Dutch genre paintings, the German Romantics, the Max Beckmann Hall and a presentation of works by Max Klinger. Artists from the former GDR are represented with more than 500 works. Beside the Berlin, Dresden and Halle styles, the local Leipzig school of painting with its broad spectrum of themes and styles is – despite some disproportion – at the very centre. The New Leipzig School is represented by artists such as Neo Rauch, Matthias Weischer and Tilo Baumgärtel. www.mdbk.de 

The GRASSI Museum of Applied Art opened in 1874 and is the second oldest Museum of Applied Art in Germany. With its first-class collection, it is considered one of Europe's leading museums of arts and crafts. The classical areas of textiles, ceramics and porcelain, furniture, glass, metals, wooden and stone sculptures, decorative and practical pewterware, symbolist work, tools and equipment are richly represented. Art nouveau, art déco and functionalism create a profile-defining focus for the collection in virtually all areas. Craftwork and design of the 20th century also depict central key points. www.grassimuseum.de

The Museum of Contemporary Art (foundation “Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst” Leipzig, GfZK) is an exhibition venue for contemporary art and a museum for post-1945 art. Visitors can see exhibitions on important and occasionally controversial issues in contemporary art. The café, library and shop have been

planned and designed by artists – just like the museum’s own hotel and the café, which is redesigned by a different artist on a regular basis. In January 2014, it was reopened as Café >bau bau< after a makeover by London-based architect Céline Condorelli. www.gfzk.de


The high point of the year within the GRASSI museum’s special exhibition is the GRASSIMESSE (Trade Fair for Applied Art and Design), an international forum of contemporary applied art and experimental design. It stands in the tradition of the historical GRASSIMESSE, founded in 1920 and famous as “Meeting Place of Modernity.” Since its reestablishment in 1997, the fair has been held once each year on the last weekend of October.  www.grassimesse.de

Year after year, Designers’ Open expects thousands of design enthusiasts as well as retailers and producers looking for the latest works of national and international designers. The variety ranges from practical every day products to extraordinary furniture and experimental fashion collections. Once an off-programme of the Grassimesse, the DO is today a well-established independent design festival. Both events still share the date – the last weekend in October. Jan Hartmann (born in 1974) and Andreas Neubert (born in 1972), the festival’s initiators, felt the urge to link and present local designers in public and first rented retail space to local designers in 2005. Since then, local and international developments of Interior-, Industrial-, Fashion-, and Communication Design are presented each year. An extensive event programme including lectures, workshops, movies, fashion shows and parties in the evening complete the fair. Until 2012, old warehouses, abandoned department stores and fair palaces or formerly inaccessible hotels served as temporary showrooms for the latest trends. Then the Designers’ Open moved to its new permanent venue at the Leipzig Fair. www.designersopen.de

Alternative Music and Festivals

The city is also making a splash on the musical front. Moon Harbour Recordings and Kann Records, two indie labels based in Leipzig, produce innovative electronica from D.J.’s. The annual Highfield Festival at Lake Störmthal near Leipzig is the biggest Independent rock festival of East Germany. The wonderful dreamscape, the beach, the lake and of course the spectacular line-up attract more than 20,000 visitors every year. www.highfield.de

During Whitsun every spring 20,000 Goths from all over the world come together in Leipzig to join the world's largest gathering of the dark family. The Wave Gotik Treffen presents more than a hundred concerts, including everything from classical music to heavy metal, and a wide-ranging cultural programme with readings, theatre performances, films, lectures and medieval markets. www.wave-gotik-treffen.de

City of Literature, Publishing and Media

In the so-called „Grafisches Viertel“ (Graphic Quarter) in Leipzig, the who is who of the German publishing scene used to reside. In 1912, 300 print offices and case rooms, 982 publishing houses and specialized book shops as well as 173 bookbinding shops operated in Leipzig. Almost every fifth book originated from Leipzig at that time. Today there still is a diverse literature and publishing industry in Leipzig that attracts worldwide attention. In 2012, the German Museum of Books and Writing opened its new permanent exhibition, "Characters - Books - Networks: From Cuneiform to Binary Code". It is located in the fourth

annex building at the German National Library, Leipzig, where every book that is printed in Germany is collected. The exhibition here in Leipzig, the city of books, is both attractive and interactive. It tells a piece of human history, from the emergence of the written word through to the printing press and the digital world online. www.dnb.de

The Deutsches Literaturinsitut (DLL; German Literature Institute), founded in 1955 and steeped in tradition, is based in Leipzig and is the only institution of its kind in Germany which has turned creative writing into a vocation. Each year in March, Leipzig Book Fair and Europe’s largest festival of reading “Leipzig liest“ present popular as well as unknown authors and artists. www.leipzig-liest.de

Leipzig Media City, which is located in the former slaughterhouse in Altenburger Strasse and houses more than 60 companies from the media sector, was the location for the 2008 award-winning movie “Das Weiße Band” (The White Ribbon) by Michael Haneke. A couple of successful German TV productions originate from Leipzig, too. During a studio tour at MDR broadcasting channel, visitors can take a look behind the scenes of television production. www.media-city-leipzig.de

The art of film has a long tradition in Leipzig, too. The Leipzig International “Festival für Dokumentar- und Animationsfilm” – shortened to Dok Leipzig – is Europe’s second largest film festival of its kind. Every year in October more than 300 animated and documentary films from more than 50 countries are presented. www.dok-leipzig.de

Modern Architecture

The flair of the Leipzig city centre is due to the special features of its urban architecture. There is no other European city with a comparably compact inner-city system of arcades and passageways that emerged from centuries of trading and trade fair activities. Architecture fans react enthusiastically when seeing the around 30 arcades, 20 of which are historical. Old trading palaces and courtyards from the Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau and the historicist period blend harmoniously with modern buildings of the 20th/21st century. The most famous and probably the most glamorous arcade is Mädler Passage, whose history is connected with the popular Auerbachs Keller.

Leipzig Fair is regarded the "mother of trade fairs". Leipzig's commercial development was given a boost in the 1990s due to the construction of the ultramodern Leipzig Fair Exhibition Centre with its fascinating architecture (architects: Volkwin Marg/Hamburg). www.leipziger-messe.de  

Porsche Leipzig (Architects: gmp – von Gerkan, Marg und Partner/ Hamburg): Before you even arrive at Porsche Leipzig, the architecture says it all: this is so much more than just a production facility. Technically, it offers the highest quality standards – emotionally, it promises an unforgettable stay. The diamond-like form of the Customer Centre is an architectural tour de force and can be seen for miles. Within it, visitors will find a unique ambience that reflects Porsche’s philosophy of uncompromising engineering and design. Porsche Leipzig can be experienced individually or as a group and is included in various packages. According to your needs you can either enjoy an excellent meal (brunch, lunch or dinner) in the Customer Center restaurant, a guided tour of the factory along the production line of the Panamera and Cayenne or a spectacular driving event out on the track (as pilot or co-pilot). www.porsche-leipzig.com

BMW Leipzig (Architect: Zaha Hadid / United Kingdom): The BMW Plant Leipzig with its spectacular, prize-winning architecture by star architect Zaha Hadid is one of the world's most modern and sustainable automobile factories. Since March 2005, up to 740 cars are built here every day. Beside the existing function of producing the smaller BMW series models, the company will also function as a competence center for the production of electric vehicles in the future. Known under its project name Megacity Vehicle, the electric car will be produced within the next years. During a guided factory tour, you will experience the car production at first hand - from the welding of the car body via the paint shop to the individual assembly. www.bmw-werk-leipzig.de

Paulinum (Architect: Erick van Egeraat/ Netherlands): Leipzig University is the second oldest in Germany and celebrated its 600th anniversary in 2009. In 2004, an architectural competition was launched for a new campus at the old location in the middle of the city, on Augustusplatz (Augustus square). The old University Church St. Paul’s, which had survived World War II without damage, was blown up by the GDR government under Leipzig-born Walter Ulbricht in 1968. The spectacular plans for the new campus by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat pay tribute to history. After its completion, there will be a new assembly hall and church building called "Paulinum", an auditorium maximum, faculty buildings and a cafeteria. The existing lecture rooms and seminars were converted, extended and redeveloped, too. The "Paulinum" is also a suitable home for the works of art rescued from the old University church. Now, on Augustusplatz, the University again has a building complex worthy of its significance for the future of the state. www.uni-leipzig.de


If you happen to be nocturnal, there is plenty to get enthusiastic about – theatres, concert halls, variety shows and casinos. There are several dining and nightlife districts in Leipzig, including Drallewatsch, Schauspielviertel, Südmeile, Münzgasse, Gohlis and Plagwitz. And when you finally arrive in one of the many clubs or bars, you will realise that Leipzig is always wide awake and that the term “closing time” is not in our vocabulary.

”LE”, as the locals call their Leipzig with affection, has gained a great reputation as a city with street culture. The German word Freisitz (meaning something like street restaurant or café), which in other cities is often replaced by beer-garden, has become something like a cult word. Really big beer-gardens, like those in Bavaria, are rare in Leipzig. Instead, pubs and restaurants invite their guests to sit outside on the Freisitz. Of the 1,400 pubs and restaurants in Leipzig (everything from scenic pub to Chinese restaurant) 385 have meanwhile established a Freisitz. With the exception of restaurants in concentrated residential areas, all places may stay open as long as they (or their guests) want. No closing time!

After satisfying your hunger and quenching your thirst you can go on to Moritzbastei, Europe’s biggest students club, and dance the night away with music from blues to samba or dark wave. There is a unique flair in the old fortification vaults and an international public. Even Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, already came to party here – back in the Seventies when she was studying in Leipzig.

Whether you love music, art, party or cars– the choice is up to you. Leipzig is looking forward to your visit.