Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kieler Woche -- Since 1882

Kiel is the capital city of the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein.  Each June since 1882 it hosts an impressive, international sailing extravaganza called Kielerwoche (Kiel Week), with nearly round-the-clock cultural events of all kinds, most of which focus along its harbor and shoreline.

The ring of a ship's bell kicks the week's events off, and, once, after a long week of tight competition, and all the prizes for each sailing class have been awarded, the culminating events are the following week, with the world's largest parade of sail

Here's a 2-plus minute photo collage (by Finn Karstens and Phillip Spieck) of the build-up to the week, as well as some of the activities during the week.  Keep in mind that Germany lies north of RI; there are longer days during Kieler-Woche: the sun sets at 10 pm, and rises again before 5 am.

Beginning:  Staging event; shots of Kiel; inland park for hot air balloons; Ferris wheel
0:40  the harbor begins to get filled in
0:50  many non-sailing events piggy-back with the event
1:06  the look of delight
1:16  a hint of the entertainment and onshore excitement
1:28  bustling harbor; each sailing class must find its own proper start and competition buoys;
1:39  glimpses of the landscape
1:54  tidy docks late afternoon; large outdoor screen
2:00  I keep looking for the Hauptbahnhof, which
2:08  launch ramp to launch (finnless??) windsurfers
2:16  winners' podium
2:24  coordinated fireworks show begins after dark...11 pm, probably with music

This video highlights the events along the harbor.  Other exhibits include the kids' favorite :  Spiellinie, where there are lots of interactive adventures from around the world, as well as entertainers.  I find it interesting that each year the construction of the stages and set-ups for this major attraction is part of a half-year training program (apprenticeship) for future builders, so its a practical and creative training ground, after which there's always plenty of (generally very positive) feedback.

This video shows how kids enjoy the Spiellinie during a single afternoon. (The camera crew didn't stay to watch the daily kids' concert, for example.)

Adding to the kids' platform in the park, Kiel's university also organizes daily family-friendly science exhibits.  Some involve hikes.  Others study nano particles.  Sometimes they seek to better understand the ocean, or to solve environmental problems. 

In fact, it seems as if every possible avenue becomes involved in this festival, for instance:
  • Yes, the theaters and operas offer (often open-air) performances.  
  • There are puppet shows.  
  • There's a full-blown International food market, similar to the Christmas Markets we've come to know and love.  
  • There are even events to teach about politics.
How does all of this pull off, to bedazzle millions of people in one short week?  (In 2015 nearly 4 million attended.)  Part of the answer is through corporate sponsorships.  But also, just like all around Germany, there are scads of clubs, or "Vereine" which are organized just for their participation in Kieler-Woche.  

[The Kielerwochenvereine are similar to the clubs, which sponsor so many different cultural activities in Germany around the calendar year, such as carnival (the 5th season, from 11. November until Lent), Walpurgisnacht (end of April leading to May 1), the parades and formal dances of the May Societies, the "Schutzenfesten" or protection / shooting festivals held locally, and so many other activities.] 

It seems as if everyone in Germany is an active participant in at least one such organization. Intense loyalty to these clubs helps to justify why Germans are so efficient at work. They are anxious to get their salaried job done (very rarely is there overtime), so that they can get busy supporting the organization/s of their choice.  Germans are much less interested in earning more money than they are creating their active lifestyle, participating in their communities to make them special, and enjoying the quality of life that they prefer.

Kiel Week is one splendid example of Germany's active family-friendly, community health-oriented, culture!

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