The Dom in Hamburg
Nearly every major German city has its festival – Cologne has Carnival, Munich has Oktoberfest and Stuttgart has the Cannstatter Volksfest. In Hamburg, the big festival is called the Dom – and it’s doubly special compared to the other events. While Carnival takes place only once a year in February, the Dom happens three times a year. So you can visit one of Germany’s oldest festivals in spring, summer or winter – and it lasts for a whole month each time. Olga chose the summer to come to Germany to find out about studying here and also to visit her friend. On one of the days we'll check out the Dom together.
by Florian Schubert
Even on the underground we notice that the carriages are full and there's a great atmosphere – so we know we’re travelling in the right direction. The Dom takes place every year at Heiligengeistfeld – right at the heart of St. Pauli and very close to the famous Reeperbahn. Having arrived at Feldstraße station, Olga immediately notices a “typical German smell” – bratwurst (German sausage) and beer.
The Hamburg Dom is a huge fairground. There are countless stalls, both large and small, where we can get something to eat or drink or win a prize. There are also loads of rides, too – including everything from children’s carousels to rollercoasters.
Olga is actually already familiar with bratwurst, so she decides to try a Hamburg speciality for the first time: fish roll. A lot of Hamburg residents go the Dom in the evening with friends after work or at the weekend especially to get something to eat – so a cool after-hours beer is an absolute must for us too, of course. On our walk, Olga notices another kind of stand which she's never seen in Russia. It is selling gingerbread hearts, or Lebkuchenherzen in all different sizes with messages on them. You can eat them if you like, but in Germany people prefer to give them to their partners or friends, who tend to keep them. Olga is also given a small heart which she will hang up in her room in Moscow.
There is another noticeable smell she immediately picks up on as we stroll along. She has discovered another speciality: schmalzgebäck – a small, slightly sweet deep-fried pastry. Covered with lots of icing sugar, you use toothpicks to eat these treats directly out of the bag.
The Dom has existed in Hamburg for more than 100 years and some of the rides have a long-standing tradition. Virtually everyone in the city knows the Wild Mouse (Wilde Maus) rollercoaster, so a ride on this is somewhat a must for a visit to the Dom to be complete.
In between all the rides and sausage stands, there are lots of prizes to be won, too – from cuddly toys and food products through to a wide range of other small and large gifts. Anyone with a bit of skill at the tin can shy or shooting will have plenty of opportunities in the course of an evening to take home a great present for themselves or their friends.
More and more people flock to Heiligengeistfeld as the evening draws on and it becomes darker. It’s Friday, so most of them are coming to see the famous Dom fireworks which start at around 10 pm every Friday.
As already mentioned, the Dom takes place in Hamburg three times a year and lasts for a whole month on each occasion. So there's quite a good chance the Dom will happen to be on the next time you go to Hamburg. The dates change slightly each year, so it’s best to take a look at the official Dom page of the city of Hamburg.