Port birthday

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The logo of the port birthday
Special postage stamp "800 Years of the Port of Hamburg" issued by the German Federal Post Office in 1989
Ships in the Niederhafen in front of the Elbphilharmonie (2017)
Hustle and bustle at the port birthday
Tug ballet

The Port Birthday is a folk festival in Hamburg that has been held every May since 1977 and commemorates the alleged founding of the Port of Hamburg on May 7, 1189 .


Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa is said to have issued the Hamburgers a charter on May 7, 1189 , which granted the Hamburgers duty-free freedom for their ships on the Elbe from the city to the North Sea . However, this license no longer exists in the original, but only in a copy made in 1265, of which it is assumed that it contains at least falsifications in terms of content.

Speaking in favor of a forgery: First, the place of issue in the document is Neuchâtel , but Barbarossa was in Regensburg to prepare for the crusade , and second, the imperial seal on the document is not from Barbarossa, but from his grandson, Emperor Friedrich the Staufer .

Nevertheless, since 1977 the people of Hamburg have been celebrating the port birthday for a few days around May 7th every year. From the Speicherstadt to the museum harbor Oevelgönne , there are several live stages ( Hafen Rock ) and various other locations. Some of the largest sailing ships in the world open the celebrations with a large parade. The popular dragon boat race on the Elbe is legendary .

The festival in Hamburg usually lasts three days. It begins with the entry parade on Friday and ends with the exit parade on Sunday. The respective national anthem is played when the ships enter or leave the port, including the Hamburg hymn ( Hammonia ) if the ship is from Hamburg.

On average, over a million people and around 300 ships visit Hamburg's port birthday every year.

The annual highlights include the so-called “tractor ballet”, the entry and exit parades and the big fireworks on Saturday.


The Patrouille Suisse in May 2009 over the port of Hamburg

For the port birthday in 2009, for the first time since the Ramstein air conference accident in 1988, a military aerobatic team - the Patrouille Suisse  - was allowed to perform outside the ILA Berlin in Germany . Due to numerous complaints from the population about the low altitude and the noise as well as criticism of the militarization of the port birthday, only four of the seven originally planned show flights were carried out. In addition, the altitude for the fourth flight was increased from 2000 feet to 2500 feet for safety reasons  .

As part of the 827th port birthday in 2016, the AIDAprima was christened on May 7th. Despite the fire in a warehouse on the Veddel in the evening hours of May 8th, which caused a large and widely visible cloud of smoke to move over the Elbe, the program was able to be ended regularly.

In 2020, the port birthday was canceled in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic .


  • Port of Hamburg . Special supplement to the daily port report from May 11, 2012 on the occasion of the 823rd port birthday, Seehafen-Verlag, Hamburg 2012
  • Port of Hamburg . Special supplement to the daily port report of May 8, 2013 on the occasion of the 824th port birthday

Web links

Commons : Hafengeburtstag  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Label fraud on the port birthday of Deutsche Welle Kultur, May 6, 2009
  2. ^ Johann Martin Lappenberg : Hamburgisches Urkundenbuch p. 253
  3. Jürgen Sarnowsky , Hamburg (2003–2015): Friedrich Barbarossa's Imperial Free Letter for the Count's City of Hamburg dated May 7, 1189
  4. a b Harbor birthday starts with a record number of visitors. In: ndr.de. May 5, 2016, Retrieved May 6, 2016 .
  5. ↑ The fighter pilot's air show creates turbulence . In: Die Welt , May 11, 2009
  6. Veddel: Difficult search for the cause of the fire. In: ndr.de. May 10, 2016, Retrieved May 12, 2016 .
  7. PORT BIRTHDAY HAMBURG 2020 has to be canceled. Retrieved March 18, 2020 .