Two times a year, Leopoldstrasse and Ludwigstrasse are transformed into huge pedestrian zones. The booming cars that usually pass through the city are replaced by a vibrant party strip that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Schwabing. And the street festival gets more opulent every year.
Leopoldstrasse and Ludwigstrasse in Schwabing have been turned into a mile of excitement and adventure for two weekends a year since the year 2000. The street festival takes place once in spring and once again in autumn; it’s said to be one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Strictly speaking, these two street festivals actually emerged separately, and the original focus was not only on celebrating, but also on idealism.
The Corso Leopold stretches from the Siegestor to the Münchner Freiheit square and dates back to an idea from 1994 that was inspired by cheering football fans who had turned Leopoldstrasse into a party street. One year later, on 21 May 1995, thousands of people strolled down the middle of the road from the Münchner Freiheit square to Odeonsplatz. The motto of the self-proclaimed “Corsaren” was “Hit the road!”. The thought behind this was that the streets didn’t just belong to the cars! The people behind Corso Leopold wanted to make it possible to walk along Leopoldstrasse without cars for two days. But it’s not that easy to block a road in Germany.
In the year 2000, however, luck would have it that the environmental organisation Green City moved its Streetlife Festival to Ludwigstrasse between Odeonsplatz and Siegestor. Since then, the original pedestrian movement of the “Corsaren” takes place alongside the Streetlife Festival – with a diverse programme spread out across three kilometres.
Both events offer a wide variety of activities. The main focus of the Streetlife Festival is the environment and sustainability. There are numerous sports events, a dance floor, a fair trade bazaar, and various areas with information stands on the environment, climate change and alternative modes of transport.
The Corso Leopold focuses mainly on art and culture. Each festival has a central artistic theme developed by local artists. Stages are set up at large intersections, and visitors can enjoy music, theatre and readings at various stalls and tents. And there’s certainly no shortage of food stalls.
While the initiative was once seen as a mere party street, it’s since developed into a major event that attracts visitors and locals alike. There have even been calls to extend the Corso area further north to Parzivalplatz, as the European elections will be held during this year’s spring festival (25 and 26 May 2019). 23 May will also mark the 70th anniversary of the German constitution, and so the organisers want to make even more space to celebrate both events with a special programme.