Some of the former slaughterhouse buildings in the Friedrichstadt district were turned into a (night)club - Ostrapark. The entrance is vis-a-vis the Messe / Trade Fair, right by tram stop "Messe Dresden" (#10). In mild summer nights (on weekends mostly) it is a great place to hang out by the pond with fountain, palm trees providing mediterranean ambience. The atmosphere is relaxed, people chill out after a strenuous week of work.
Warning: Be prepared that in case of sudden rain/thunderstorms not every guest will find shelter in the main building / cafe-bar - it's rather small compared to the open-air area.
Drinks are very good, music is mostly dance/electro/pop.
Continue your Friedrichstadt walk here.
Dress Code: Casual mostly, but more expensive than average.
This place in the upscale Swissotel, a five-star hotel in the old town vis-a-vis the Royal Palace, has become my regular hang out place after opera or concert. The Schlossbar is the Swissotel's lobby bar and cafe, occupying the room to the left of the entrance and also the main lobby. See my restaurant tip as well for dessert/coffee.
It is a mixed crowd that gathers there - hotel guests, locals, concert/opera goers like me, folks that just have a drink after their dinner. They do have a TV screen there, you can see important games (live) there, but it's not too loud and disturbing if you're not interested.
I had just hot chocolate in winter once (3.10 Euro), on another, more recent occasion in spring, I had an alcohol-free cocktail named Fruit Cream (8 Euro) - delicious, indeed fruity, with coconut milk, mango and some other fruit juice.
Service is perfect - friendly, attentive, competent. Prices are a bit higher than usual but not outrageous - and given the ambience (modern, quite stylish), the excellent options to do some people watching plus the quality of the food/drinks, the prices are absolutely justified.
Dress Code: Casual is fine, but it doesn't hurt to dress up a little.
Whether you're a fan of movies or not, the ambience of the open-air cinema right by the river is very special and worth your time. The seats are on the hillside, designed like an amphitheatre, the huge screen is by the river. Behind the screen the lit up silhouette of the old town is to see.
From blockbusters to independent movies, oldies, classics ... or concerts (Roland Kaiser is a big hit, ditto Die Ärzte, but Bryan Adams or the Dresden Philharmonics showed up, too) - anything is possible to attend. Better buy the tickets long in advance, especially for the concerts - they sell out quickly. For movie tickets calculate about 7 Euro, 12 Euro if you want a seat in the exclusive lounge (covered, best deal in case of rain). Concerts are more pricey, of course.
A special deal are the midnight performances, they are sponsored by some bank or company, and only cost 5 Euro.
The first picture shows the view from Carolabrücke, the screen to the right ("Tim und Struppi" running), old town silhouette in the background.
The other two pictures show the Filmnächte area during the flood in August 2002 - commemorating this event, as it is (almost exactly) the 10th anniversary of this tragic event.
Dress Code: Totally informal, wear whatever you like. It's helpful to bring rain gear and something warmer, though.
One of the most popular nightlife spots in the city is the Club Bärenzwinger. It opened 1967 as a student club of the Tech University. Location is in a part of the old city fortifications, known as Brühl's Terrace nowadays. It occupies the vaults and a courtyard of the northeastern wing of the city walls, entrance is vis-a-vis the Synagogue.
The ambience is rustic, the visitors range from typical students to mid 50s that still feel (and sometimes act, LOL) like students. They often host concerts of live bands (rock, pop, indie, ...) In summer, when most students are on vacation, there is "summer theatre" in the courtyard. In 2012 they had a play loosely based upon Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor" scheduled. I attended with a friend and we enjoyed it very much. Tickets were 12 - 17.50 Euro, best bought in advance (e.g. at Tourist Info), but with luck also available right before the performance on the spot.
Dress Code: Totally informal. A typical students place, do I need to say more? :-)
There are a lot of bars in the Dresden-Neustadt district, the so called "scene" and "nightlife" area, but only a few of them offer decent food, just in case you're hungry. Bar Paradox is one of them. They serve burgers, sandwiches, finger food, but also more filling dishes - the menu changes weekly. Usually you can have something like steak/rumpsteak, salad with meat and/or cheese, soup and something vegetarian. I had a large plate of antipasti (salad, grilled veggies, olives, Serrano ham, Tete de Moine cheese with apricot chutney) which was yummy (8.20 Euro). The rose wine was ok, the owner promised improvement on the wine list in the next weeks.
Main reason to go there is to hang out, meet people, have a drink or two, listen to music (not live, though).
Paradox opens at 5 pm and stays open until the last guest heads home :-) (No curfew in Dresden!) Breakfast on weekends from 10 am to 3 pm.
Dress Code: Casual.
Unlike the name indicates this operetta theatre is not run by the State but by the city. Actually, they claim it's the only one in Germany - don't know if it's true, and it doesn't matter IMO.
They perform operettas mostly, but sometimes also musicals. The repertoire reaches from the classic Johann Strauß, Karl Millöcker and Franz Lehar operettas to "My Fair Lady" and even modern musicals. The musical quality (orchestra and singing) is really good, the productions are mostly traditional so you won't be shocked by any "Euro Trash".
However, the problem is the building. It has not been renovated for too many years and that shows. While the auditorium is ok - although A/C is a problem - and a new lobby has been built some years ago, the backstage area is a nightmare for the artists. Besides, the location far in the eastern residential areas is not convenient for visitors. Thus the city administration decided to reconstruct a 19th century industrial complex in the western old town and turn it into a home for the arts - Operetta theatre, other stages for smaller theatres, ateliers for artists etc. I don't see that project finished before 2015, though, and it might take even longer. But there's at least hope for an improvement ...
Nonetheless, attending a performance at the Staatsoperette is highly recommended. Prices are very reasonable (about 15-25 Euro) but sometimes they sell out quickly.
Getting there is easy - take tram #2 from the city centre or tram #6 from the Neustadt to the stop "Altleuben/Staatsoperette".
Dress Code: No need to dress up, but I would generally not wear jeans and sneakers for such an event.
Said to be one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe, Semper Opera features both operas and ballets, both as part of a regular season and for special performances. If you can't make it to a performance, at least a guided tour is a must to appreciate the interiors of the building.
There is a usually a good mixture of famous works (you can usually count on seeing a Verdi, a Mozart, and a Donizetti in the same season) and premieres, often following a particular theme - e.g., Slavic theme with operas by composers from neighbouring countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Evening shows typically begin at 8pm
Depending on the seat category and performance, a ticket can cost anywhere from EUR 10 to EUR 150, provided you're buying it officially. Tickets are available on the website (http://www.semperoper.de), and you can book a year in advance.
Dress Code: Formal
You like good movies but dislike the sticky atmosphere in cinemas? Then you should go to "Filmnächte am Elbufer" (Movie nights at Elbe banks). But the event does not only offer the newst movies but also life acts. Party together with over 100,000 crazy people or watch with your honey the newest movies.
There are numerous theatres in Dresden - from the Classical Theatre to smaller theatres and cabarets.
Here are some examples:
- Schauspielhaus (with some locations) www.schauspielhaus-dresden.de
A highly acclaimed theatre company. I saw some excellent productions there - and this is also for folks that don't speak German but are interested in theatre. You might enjoy Goethe's or Schiller's works in original language as well as Shakespeare in German :-)
- Komödie Dresden www.komoedie-dresden.de
Contemporary comedies given by the local company mostly, but also guest companies on tour.
- Theater Junge Generation www.tjg-dresden.de
Innovative modern theatre, young company especially for younger folks.
- Societaetstheater www.societaetstheater.de
The oldest civil theatre in Dresden. Often performances from guest companies, festivals.
- Kabarett Herkuleskeule www.herkuleskeule.de
The political cabaret with the longest tradition in Dresden. A *must*! Often sold out long in advance.
- Kabarett Breschke & Schuch www.kabarett-breschke-schuch.de
Another political cabaret, not quite as good as Herkuleskeule but still enjoyable.
- Theaterkahn www.theaterkahn-dresden.de
One man shows, cabaret, recitals on the boat that docks next to Theaterplatz square. In combination with the restaurant it makes for a very nice evening.
Dress Code: Except Schauspielhaus you don't need to dress up. And even there nobody will scold you for wearing jeans - it's just that others *do* dress up and I personally feel uncomfortable then. I would recommend to wear no sneakers, though.
This impressive opera house has a long standing tradition for premiering great works and remains a big draw for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Check their website for current offerings and pricing. I was surprised that there were some very affordable tickets for certain shows. Not sure how easy it is to get tickets but worth a try if interested. For those not so inclined but who want to see its ornate interior, tours are available daily though their times depend on show times of the operas.
Dress Code: I certainly didn't have the right thing to wear for an evening performance but casual wear is fine for the tour.
The most popular place to hang out in the old town in the evenings/at night is the so called "Kneipenviertel Weisse Gasse". Conveniently located between Altmarkt and Pirnaischer Platz, just a few steps from the Kreuzkirche it is easily to reach by tram/bus from anywhere in the city.
More than 20 restaurants offer food and drinks from all over the world. You can have sushi or pizza, thai or local food. If you want to join the crowd watching soccer then go to the Irish pub. Or hang out in the lounge at Haus Altmarkt, relocate to the nightclub upstairs later.
Outdoor seating is to see from early spring to late fall - heaters is the magic word (not exactly green, though). On mild summer nights the places are very busy - it'll be tough to get a table with one of the comfy rattan sofas and chairs with the soft cushions.
The food is of pretty good quality. Don't expect any fancy food, but some of the restaurants really try and may surprise you with creativity. Prices are a bit higher than average (central location) but still acceptable.
The crowds that gather here are in the majority from mid twenty to mid fourty or so, but you'll see plenty of older folks as well. This is really for everyone.
Dress Code: Casual.
Dresden is blessed to be home of two top orchestras, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the Dresden Philharmonic, plus several other orchestras, not to mention the orchestras below that level (which are still good) in the city and the surrounding region, the many choruses, solo singers and ensembles. Thus you can almost every day attend a concert in town, from chamber concerts to full orchestra concerts.
Most popular places for concerts are the Semper Opera house where the Staatskapelle is at home (www.staatskapelle-dresden.de) and the Kulturpalast, opened 1969, which is home of the Dresden Philharmonic. While the acoustics in the opera house are excellent the Kulturpalast unfortunately cannot compete - and the ambience is not exactly very festive either. The powers-to-be realised something has to be done about the Kulturpalast and decided to reconstruct it completely. I don't expect it to be done in the near future, though, as there's a huge argument going on if it would be better to build a new concert hall somewhere and just do some minor changes to the Kulturpalast.
Anyway, in addition to the two places mentioned you have the choice from several others: churches (Frauenkirche, Kreuzkirche, Lukaskirche to name the most famous but also others), Schloss Albrechtsberg, the chamber music hall of the Music College etc.
And of course there are not only the local orchestras, choirs, ensembles that perform in Dresden. Artists from all over the world flock into town and give concerts - most for the festivals, but also throughout the year. I've had the pleasure to attend concerts of the New York Philharmonic, the Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival orchestra and of many others. Just watch out for them. Good ressources are www.dresden.de and www.ticketcentrale.de
Dress Code: You can dress casually and nobody will cast a strange look at you, but I personally prefer to dress up (suit and tie) as do most people.
If you want to see a movie in a more individual ambience than the big movie theatres provide then there are several options in Dresden. One of them is "Programmkino Ost" which is located in a 19th century residential area east of the city centre. The building can look back on a long history as a theatre. Just recently they enlarged it by a modern structure, modernised A/C and other facilities and added a couple of new auditoriums. The two old auditoriums preserved some of their charm - some stucco works are kept as you can see in pic #3.
They play blockbusters as well as artsy productions from smaller, independent labels. I particularly like their annual French weeks in fall.
Important to non-German speakers: They also play movies in original language, mostly French and English/American. See this page:
Tickets cost between 5 and 7 Euro, small surcharge for long movies.
To get there take trams #4, 10 or buses #85, 86 to Altenberger Str.
Dress Code: Casual.
The "Crystal Palace" is the favourite cinema of the young folks in Dresden. They play all the blockbusters (also 3D movies), rarely something that really is of interest to me. The last movie I saw there was "The thin red line" I think. *Way* back :-) They are open from about 10 am to after midnight.
Ticket prices vary between 5 Euro (Tuesday, for students) and 7.50 Euro (Saturday and Sunday, regular). Small surcharge for long movies and 3 Euro surcharge for 3D movies.
The architecture of the building is quite interesting, most locals say it's plain ugly. I tend to agree. It was designed by the Vienna based architects of Coop Himmelb(l)au. The auditoriums are in a structure of plain concrete, no plaster or paint, while the lobby and staircase are in a huge glass structure. During the day it really looks awful IMO, at night, when it's lit up inside, it shines like a crystal - thus the name.
Dress Code: no dress code
No matter if you are a lover of classical music or not - to attend a performance at the Semperoper is an unforgettable experience. You will be fascinated by the beauty of the building, the festive atmosphere and the music. Opera in Dresden goes back more than 300 years. More on the current opera house in the "Things To Do" tips - information here is on the actual performances.
Dresden's opera company has been one of the leading for centuries. Every now and then the quality declined a bit, but I am happy that after the wall came down we've seen an improvement. They're back in the first league again. Base for the good quality of the performances are the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the best orchestras worldwide, the excellent opera chorus and a company with very good soloists. Occasionally guest stars are contracted for performances - like in an unforgettable RIGOLETTO production that I attended when Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Florez and Zeljko Lucic appeared (and Georg Zeppenfeld who was member of the company back then!)
Like in almost every other European opera house the trend is to often have new 'modern' productions with IMO odd, often empty staging, ugly costumes, the scenes set in times and places that are not related to the actual opera/libretto. If you're not into this (the Americans call it "Euro trash") then ask at the box office about the production before you purchase your tickets (or ask me). Some very beautiful, traditional productions are still scheduled and I recommend them highly: LOHENGRIN, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, PARSIFAL, LA BOHEME e.g. and some newer productions are also worth a recommendation: the previously mentioned RIGOLETTO, IL TROVATORE, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, PENTHESILEA, HÄNSEL AND GRETEL, ARABELLA, FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN e.g.
As for ballet - all the productions are wonderful. There is not a single one that did not receive huge ovations. The ballet company is fantastic and won several awards.
Getting tickets has become somewhat easier as the prices went up in the last years - locals tend to ignore the crappy new and too modern productions and cancelled abonnements. Better chances for you! Book online through their website or just ask at the box office when in the city - if it's not peak tourist season then tickets are often available until the same day. Btw, a pretty good choice are the standing room tickets that are unfortunately available only after all the other tickets are sold or right prior to the performance. These are high up on the fourth balcony where the acoustics are best. You can see all of the stage and have seats in the back where you can sit down for some minutes if you're not able to stand all the time.
Dress Code: Try to dress a bit upscale. Everyone knows (and accepts) that tourists cannot drag around too much clothing, but Dresdners use to dress up somewhat for opera - unlike in other cities. Students often dress casually, though, and nobody would deny access if you're in jeans.