Paint on Walls-Festival Geldern 2021, Oldhaus, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Street Art is con­quer­ing North Rhine-West­phalia

Fest­ivals turn en­tire cit­ies in­to col­our­ful oases of art

Artists from the street-art scene per­ceive facades as the faces of pub­lic space: dull and grey, they will spread a bad mood un­til art comes in to make squares, res-iden­tial blocks, or streets more col­our­ful and lively, in­vit­ing people to look and lin-ger. North Rhine-West­phalia has a num­ber of im­port­ant fest­ivals to im­prove the im­age of urb­an centres. Fans of cul­ture will find an in­tro­duc­tion to some of the most renowned events be­low, some of them draw­ing at­ten­tion in large met­ro­pol­is-es while oth­ers take place in smal­ler towns.

40° Urban Art in Düsseldorf

The “40° Urban Art” festival in Düsseldorf is a giant in the scene that has given sprayers and street artists free rein to be creative to the hearts’ content in selected streets of the Rhine metropolis since 2013. Every other year, they meet up to create new things, e.g. on bridge or house facades, to make passers-by smile or think. Their work may be socio-political at times and follows the principle of “Art without boundaries”. Visitors to the city can still see the truth of this today in some places, such as the Kamper Acker in Düsseldorf-Holthausen, the Kiefernstraße, the Jülicher Brücke, or the Gustav-Gründgens-Platz. A virtual city map marks campaigns of the past on the festival website, encouraging visitors to go on their own discovery tours and explorations.

Date: 2024, not yet determined


CityLeaks Urban Art Festival in Cologne

The CityLeaks Urban Art Festival in Cologne has been firmly established among the cultural events dedicated to street art since 2011. Understanding itself as a proper laboratory of urban art and participatory urban research, it produces murals as new landmarks in sites such as the Belgian Quarter or the Ehrenfelder Helios-Straße every other year, as artists create oases of thought and tranquillity that touch people directly. The event lasts for two months but draws a focus on subjects such as identity and memory, common spaces, the potential of open space, and climate-smart urban renewal even beyond that. Visitors are invited to actively take part in the design process as well.

Date: 2024, not yet determined


Paint on Walls in Geldern

A colourful open-air gallery opened in Geldern in 2021. Once a year, it takes on an entirely new look for the “Paint on Walls” festival. As the international street painting competition in Geldern commences, more than 20 renowned sprayers set to work in Hülser-Kloster-Straße to redesign the outer walls of the St.-Michael-Schule parking lot. Scene celebrities such as Smoenova, Hoker One, or StudioYasja, with a large fan base on social media channels and video platforms, have been involved here already. Visitors can look forward to enjoying an art experience with background music and plenty of talk. Paint on Walls may be limited to the school parking lot, but it is all the more radiant for it there.

Date: 17 - 18 August 2024


Artlon in Rheinberg

The Artlon “Big A” is the largest annual art project in Rheinberg to date. Dedicated to improving the cityscape, among other things in the Reichelsiedlung that has mostly stood out in the cityscape with its dreary appearance, it has become a fixed feature of the Music Art Project Festival (MAP). The festival catering to a vast variety of cultural genres with its programme in a mid-summer week allows artists to decorate a number of brick walls with gigantic, brightly coloured murals that tell their very own stories of home. A tour will show project sketches, carts full of paint pots and spray cans as well as metre-high truck work platforms standing in front of the works in progress. The murals created before have been preserved, allowing travellers to admire the works after the project has closed.

Date: 23 - 24 August 2024


GhmS Festival in Goch

The “Goch history meets Streetart” festival (GhmS) is the largest urban art festival on the Lower Rhine, drawing more than 150 national and international artists to the small town on the Dutch border, where they can set to work in about 45 different locations. From August to September, they will create colourful graffiti, mostly referring to the town’s local history. This is a unique feature to be developed further in the scope of guided tours and historical scavenger hunts.

Date: 2024, not yet determined


Secret City Festival in Paderborn

Paderborn is striving to turn into the next graffiti metropolis in Ostwestfalen-Lippe. The Secret City Festival has become an annual contribution to this in 2021: National and international sprayers have four weeks to redesign about 15 facades in the city area. Artistic creativity will not be hemmed in by any borders in August and September. The artists are entirely free to pick their concepts, themes, and motifs. This special feature among the available festivals gives visitors the opportunity to discover a number of scenic landscapes, abstract bodies, and colourful lettering on a tour of the works created so far. A visit to the new Paderborn graffiti star is worth the time as well – this concept at the Heierswall offers areas that are regularly painted over and areas with elements that can be bought as works of art. Anyone looking for inspiration may set out of the free audio-visual graffiti tour provided by the tourist information. It can be called up on the “Actionbound” app.

Date: 10 to 30 August 2024

Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

40 Grad Urban Art Festival Düsseldorf 2013, Flingern Süd, Orticanoodles, © Johannes Höhn
CityLeaks 2015 Köln, Ammar Abo Bakr (Luxor, EGY) & Robin von Gestern, © Johannes Höhn
CityLeaks 2019, Projekt Chargesheimer Tunnel, The PhotoBookMuseum, © Marvin Ibo Güngor
CityLeaks 2017, Hyuro, Intervention Sharing, © Robert Winter
Paint on Walls-Festival Geldern 2021, Studio Yasja, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

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