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Music for Cologne

Listening & experiencing: the new music of today

In Cologne, eight bridges cross the Rhine — and ACHT BRÜCKEN (Eight Bridges) is the name of the festival that brings new music every year to the effervescent banks of expanded music awareness. The festival is designed to reach a wide audience — at concerts, films, exhibitions, presentations and interactive workshops. Experience innovative contemporary music — not only by listening but also by finding out about the concepts on which it’s based and opening up to multifaceted impressions. It’s “bridge music” for the mind and the senses.

© KölnTourismus GmbH, Foto: Sebastian Trägner

For 9 days, the ACHT BRÜCKEN festival offers new music, jazz, world music and pop — as well as experimental creations based on them — to enrich your world of acoustic experience. The venues include Cologne Philharmonic Hall, the WDR-Funkhaus radio hall, the Schauspiel Köln theatre, the Stadtgarten, the Mülheim Culture Bunker, the ship MS Jan von Werth and others.

These venues and the various musical events all over Cologne offer plenty of scope for personal choice, ranging from morning concerts in churches to club evenings — including concerts you can attend for free.

A Cologne music festival with changing main themes

The ACHT BRÜCKEN festival changes its main theme every year — and it aims to thrill music fans in new ways again and again. Music for young and old, connoisseurs and amateurs, a broad audience — you can expect a lot going on. The festival aims to open up new spaces for listening through its performances, exhibitions and films, public rehearsals, presentations and offers for children. The organizer is the Cologne Philharmonic – and the focus is always on contemporary music.

The whole dimension of hearing - located in Cologne

Renowned artists and ensembles from the international music scene, as well as speakers, scientists and exhibitors are booked to take part in the ACHT BRÜCKEN festival. The basic concept behind each year’s festival is an overall theme that is reflected in all the presentations, which take place in numerous venues in Cologne. Visitors are also invited to experience other aspects of the timeless and universal phenomenon of music, such as its effect on specific sociocultural dimensions of human life and the ways music depends on the location, time of day and form of presentation. Here too, ACHT BRÜCKEN demonstrates the full range of contemporary music in an internationally noteworthy way.

© KölnTourismus GmbH, Foto: Sebastian Trägner

ACHT BRÜCKEN: since 2011

In the succession of the MusikTriennale Köln

ACHT BRÜCKEN was conceived in 2011 as the successor festival to MusikTriennale Cologne. It is held every year in early May. In the years since 2011 the focal points have been “Pierre Boulez – France and Modern Music”, “John Cage – America. A Vision”, “Elektronik – Electronics. Iannis Xenakis”, “Im Puls”, “Music. Politics?”, “Music and Faith”, “Tone. Setting. Sound.”,“Metamorphosen – Variationen”, “The Polyphony of a Metropolis”, “Music and Cosmos” and “Cosmos|Comic”,  “Music Amnesia Memory”, “Music or Nothing”. In 2024 the theme was “fine differences”.

Financing, promoting & sponsoring the festival

The festival is sponsored by the broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk and the City of Cologne and supported by many other institutions, such as the Kuratorium KölnMusik and the art foundation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The City of Cologne finances about one third of the total amount. Support is also provided by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport and the cultural foundation of the German federal government as well as other sponsors and partners.

Just one click to the city vacation

Accommodation options for every taste

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The official tourist ticket

Would you like to discover Cologne inexpensively and easily? Then we recommend the KölnCard. The tourist ticket offers you free travel on all public transport and great discounts on art, culture and gastronomy.