Great events in the Ruhr Metropolis
Cultural events with unusual backdrops, metropolitan flair and no shortage of green space: the Ruhr Metropolis has reinvented itself from an industrial to a cultural region.
Right in the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia is a region like no other in Germany. The Ruhr Area conurbation, where city limits become blurred, has undergone an amazing transformation in recent decades. Where steel was once coked and coal was formerly mined now stand rehabilitated green spaces and recreation areas for walking and cycling. Industrial facilities have been converted to venues for art, culture, sports and entertainment, bringing life to the region’s industrial heritage.
The Ruhr Area’s many cities exude metropolitan flair and draw visitors with spectacular events and a wide variety of attractions.
Many arts and cultural festivals in the region make use of disused industrial sites such as Gasometer Oberhausen, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen or the blasting hall of Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord. Internationally-renowned festivals like the Ruhrfestspiele, the Ruhr Piano Festival or the Ruhrtriennale stand out from festivals elsewhere in Germany precisely because of their unusual venues and special atmosphere.
Industrial heritage as a unique selling point
Once a year, the Ruhr Metropolis hosts a festival that unites all the communities of the Ruhr: ExtraSchicht – the Industrial Heritage Night. This huge after-dark experience is celebrated at all of the region’s main industrial heritage sites and takes in around 500 individual arts and culture events. By day, visitors can walk the Route der Industriekultur (Industrial Heritage Trail) to explore many of the former coal and steel works and their present-day cultural uses. The route, which can also be cycled, connects the most important industrial monuments, including the Zollern Colliery, the Hansa Coking Plant in Dortmund and the Schiffshebewerk Henrichenburg boat lift in Hattingen. Museums like the German Mining Museum in Bochum and the German Football Museum in Dortmund can also be found on the route.
The best-known of the region’s industrial heritage sites is the UNESCO-listed Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. The site rewards visitors not only with its imposing architecture, but also with a walk along the Zollverein Memorial Trail and a visit to the Ruhr Museum, which is dedicated to the cultural history of the region. Meanwhile, Essen boasts an important museum for modern art: the Folkwang Museum is acclaimed far beyond the boundaries of the Ruhr Area.
Shopping, events and getting close to nature
Essen and the other cities of the Ruhr Area are also a mecca for shoppers with their pedestrianised streets and shopping centres. Limbecker Platz in Essen and the CentrO complex in Oberhausen are guaranteed to lighten purses and wallets. There are also plenty of events going on, like the annual Cranger Kirmes funfair in Herne, as well as musical, theatre and comedy events all year round.
The other side of the Ruhr Area is its rebirth as a green and natural landscape offering rest and relaxation for locals and visitors. In the region’s parks and green spaces, for example the Gruga Park or the Emscher Landschaftspark, nature is being left to its own devices or allowed to reclaim its old terrain. The river that gives the Ruhr Area its name is also a focal point for nature in the region. Its banks have been developed both for walking and for extended cycling tours along the Ruhrtal-Radweg (Ruhr Valley Cycle Path). The Römer-Lippe-Route (Roman Lippe Route) is another cycle path that crosses the region, taking in historic sites along the way. Since 2015, the Ruhr Area even has its own “Alpine” network of hiking paths. The Halden-Hügel-Hopping experience involves climbing the natural elevations and slag heaps of the Ruhr Area. From the top, hikers can take in the views of a region which has reinvented itself in recent times and which is still developing.
Arriving at Düsseldorf Airport