I wake up and I desperately need a milk-foamed caffeinate. I can get that here at the Mondpalast Hostel, but I love the quiet hours of the sleepy new town in the morning. Before my friends peel themselves out of their beds, I quietly steal myself out of the room and walk around the listed Wilhelminian style block to visit the Café Continental, which has been reliably serving guests here in the centre of Neustadt for as long as I can remember. A lot has accumulated over the last few years and we have a party mission to fulfil! My friends are more or less ready to go: mobile phone, money, vaccination card, the trinity check! We are ready for the first pub crawl of the year and can actually stay right where we are, because directly below our room at the Mondpalast Hostel is the Mora Bar, where a singer songwriter concert is taking place today. Somehow touched, we toast together. The space here at the weekend is limited, although the bar is large, we are probably not the only ones who have something to catch up on.

Mora Bar und Cafe
Mora Bar und Café

music pubs and clubs in the Neustadt

We heard about a silent disco event in front of the Scheune Venue (in German we call it barn). So we move on. One bar follows the next in time with our steps. Neustadt is known for its dense bar scene: the 70's Combo with its extensive selection of local and international drinks; Café Laika with its Berlin flair; the left-wing scene pub Trotzdem or almost opposite the oldest and first pub in Neustadt die 100 with its quaint backyard beer garden and clinker stone wine cellar. Newer names such as Heartbreak or Plan B join the ranks here and are absolutely worth visiting bars with an alternative crowd and progressive concept.

The Neustadt is home to night-time places of longing, and not just for us. Within 500 square metres, everything that wants to go out in Dresden meets here: locals, tourists, young people, punks and yuppies. We pass the beer garden and club Katy's Garage. There's always something going on here, but maybe that's because you're always walking past. From a distance we see the first people wobbling through the street with headphone lights. We warm up a bit on the sidelines with our own beers, which we brought from the Assi-corner, because we are more fascinated than ambitious. We imagine what kind of music the people here are listening to and are delighted when one of them does a Flamenco move while his dance partner seems to be dancing to Drum n' Bass.

The Scheune is an important institution in the Neustadt. For more than 60 years, it has been an indispensable cultural centre for excellent concerts, festivals, poetry slams and workshops. It hosts the Reverberation Festival, Music Match Festival, the Schaubudensommer and the Neustädter Gelichter christmas market or offers its premises for the Thanks Jimi Festival, the T-Shirt Festival or the really cool DAVE Festival.

Banda Internationale at BRN
street concert in the Neustadt

even more music locations in the Neustadt

At this point, the Dresden Drum&Bass Festival should also be mentioned: since 2007, not only snare and bass guitars have been played here, but everything that beats and grooves. The Bandstand in Hellerau has also established itself as a festival for local bands. Here you can apply with a music video or compete in an AI songwriting contest.

We pass Hebedas, the traditional student pub in the trendy district. On Saturdays, a DJ plays soul music with records on a small dance floor next to the bar.

We want to continue to the Groovestation, which has been voted the number 1 club in Dresden by the locals for years. There are actually three clubs in the backyard: in the basement there's a party queue for Downtown Club, which is more about Black Music, RnB and House, upstairs there's the Groovestation with its great live concerts, Bingo nights or Minimal parties and foosball and pool tables, and upstairs next door there are the disco bunnies in the Lofthouse, which used to be the Mondpalast Hostel. This is actually how we end the night, as we started it: The moon is our party omen of dreams.

Dresden is not a party stronghold with big and well-known clubs like in Berlin. But there are reliably well-ambitious venues with heart like the Ostpol, which is located on the edge of the Äussere Neustadt quarter. The pub with its eastern charm and original wooden dance floor always offers a good beer at a good price. It is especially worth a visit when there is a party or concert: Psych over Hip Hop over Soul music, everything is possible as long as it is sophisticated and dedicated. The Dresden native has already polished the floor here as part of the Upon My Soul Festival.

concert at the Ostpol
concert at the Ostpol

outside the Neustadt

The Beatpol is not quite as central, but offers larger concerts with well-known names from the pop and rock scene, all in the ambience of a shabby ballroom from 1896. Moby or Tocotronic have already played here when the club was still called Starclub.

Another very exciting live concert stage can be found in the Barockpark Großer Garten. The Junge Garde open-air stage is one of the most beautiful aphitheatre-style event locations in Dresden. It's no wonder that big names like to perform live here, such as Patty Smith or James Blunt.

While we're on the subject of great stages and names, I must also recommend the Filmnächte am Elbufer. Here, in the middle of the nature-protected Elbe meadows, with the best panoramic view of Dresden's old town, on the largest transportable screen in Europe, you can watch wonderful films and also enjoy unforgettable open-air concerts. If you can't afford a ticket for jazz artists like Helge Schneider or other luminaries like Niall Young or Deichkind, you can always sit down next to them with your camping chair or picnic blanket and listen from the side. That's how the people of Dresden do it too, with a bottle of wine you just sit down among the masses: the more famous the artist, the more people.

baroque backdrop at the film nights
baroque backdrop at the film nights

a centre for music

The Alter Schlachthof, between the Elbe river and Neustadt, offers a concert venue that also has a long tradition in Dresden. Once the city's first central slaughterhouse and now an industrial monument, it also hosts big shows like the Rocky Horror Show. The Kelly's also seem to have their regular home here. The people of Dresden remain loyal to them: After all, they had one of the few concerts as artists from the West right at the main station on Prager Strasse when the iron curtain was still standing. That was free of charge, even my mother dragged me there, even though nobody here knew the Kelly Family back then.

The people of Dresden still live a baroque life. We have the most fireworks in Germany, the most cinema seats per inhabitant and the most shopping space per inhabitant, ... quite hedonistic. Dresdeners love to party, even if the city is sometimes a bit stuck in the past, there are also larger festivals that have also made a name for themselves in the meantime and have been the product of courageous and forward-thinking initiators:

Dixieland Festival Dresden
Dixielandfestival parade (©photo: Hendrik Meyer)

City festivals and festivals

First and foremost, there is the Bunte Republik Neustadt, or BRN for short. It is the largest neighbourhood festival in the whole of Germany. Every year on the third weekend in June, cars are banned from the streets of Neustadt so that there is enough space for people. On Friday afternoons, just before it starts, locals build stages and podiums for the live shows, sets, concerts and theatre performances, all of which are put on for free, out of love for the neighbourhood and its people. And then the partying goes on, non-stop until one or two in the morning, and then on in the pubs or at private house parties until the next day.

It's similar with the Hechtfest at the end of summer or Sankt Pieschen. Both are alternative neighbourhood festivals and can be seen as smaller and less commercial sisters of the BRN. It is not without pride that neighbours and locals put on the best local live events of the year.

The Dixieland Festival also started small in the 70's, when Jazz was still a foreign word in the GDR. The SED cadre approved the event, but was then very surprised when the festival quickly enjoyed great popularity and more people came together than for the obligatory 1st of May Day event (the Day of Work holiday). Today there is live music everywhere once a summer: Dixie on the steamship, Dixie in the Palace of Culture, Dixie on the radio and Dixie as a parade in the old town.

If that's not enough, you can still let off steam at the Jazztage Dresden in autumn. More progressive and with many modern international jazz greats, such as Gregory Porter at unusual venues like the Ballsportarena or the Ostra Dome. For all other days of the year, only the Blue Note Bar can help the jazz-hungry heart. This comes up trumps with almost daily live performances of a more local nature for the small purse.

concert at BRN
BRN - Colourful Republic of Neustadt


By the way, artists and bands can stay overnight in Dresden's Neustadt district cheaply and safely. The Bandbude is located in the immediate vicinity of most venues in Dresden and can be booked through the Lollis Homestay Hostel or your Dresden booker. The fully equipped flat has been specially furnished for bands and comes with an all-round carefree package: comfortable parking directly in front of the flat, fully equipped kitchen, breakfast in the fridge to make yourself, late riser check-out from 13:00, quiet location directly in the trendy district and fast Wi-Fi. With space for up to 8 people, usable as two single rooms or as two double rooms, the Bandbude is not only incredibly affordable, but can also be booked flexibly, just as you need it!

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