City of Literature

READING: where fairytales begin! 
Bremen is a UNESCO “City of Literature” 

To be creative together – to make a difference with and for Bremen’s literary and cultural scene – this is why the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen applied for the UNESCO title of City of Literature. The aim was clear from the outset: to get as many people as possible excited about literature and reading as a cultural technique – because reading is and will remain a central basic skill that needs to be strengthened. It enables immersion into other worlds and perspectives, widens horizons and affects people’s lives.

Since 31 October 2023, Bremen has officially had the honor of bearing the UNESCO title “City of Literature” and thus belongs to both the illustrious “City of Literature” networks and the even larger Creative Cities Network (consisting of approximately 350 cities worldwide). 

With its recognition as a UNESCO Creative City, Bremen is part of an active and dedicated network that brings cities from all over the world together and sees culture as an important engine for sustainable city development. As creative strongholds, the cities in the network utilize their potential for socioeconomic and cultural development. They establish partnerships with actors in their cities and with other cities, exchange knowledge and experience, improve the participation of all persons in cultural life and actively promote the local cultural and creative industries.

This will not only benefit Bremen’s literature scene in the long-term, it’s cultural scene writ large will also profit the awarded title. After all, UNESCO prioritizes cross-media projects in particular and, with its Creative Cities Network, promotes intelligent networking, including in categories like film, music, media arts, design, trades and gastronomy, areas in which Bremen also has much to offer and which should be networked equally as effectively as the literature actors. 

Over the past few years, the application process itself has released a lot of energy and many forces, contributed toward the sustainable strengthening of the literature scene, driven forward intelligent networks among the various actors of literature and cultural scenes as well as on the national and international levels and has been the impetus for the effective further proliferation of the existing structures. Moreover, several lighthouse projects were created including the Stadtmusikanten- und Literaturhaus, LauschOrte – Sound&Stories, Bremer SprachMusikanten and the digital Literaturmagazin Bremen with podcasts, columns, blogs and cross-media formats which were conceived from the outset to be participatory and inclusive and which continuously develop and grow.

There are currently 53 Cities of Literature worldwide: In addition to Heidelberg, immediately after its first application to become a UNESCO Creative City, Bremen is now another German city that can count itself among the illustrious ranks of Literature Cities like Edinburgh, Dublin, Milan, Barcelona, Prague, Krakau, Lviv, Odessa, Leeuwarden, Seattle, Durban and Melbourne, etc. 

The Hanseatic City impressed UNESCO on several levels because,

Bremen is

Bremen is at the very end of the Fairy Tale Road and is associated with the four Town Musicians all over the world. The animal quartet has played a key role in shaping Bremen's image of being cosmopolitan, tolerant and colourful. After all, the multi-layered Grimms’ fairy tale, which has been translated into countless languages and which, alongside the other fairy tales in Grimms' Tales for Young and Old by the Brothers Grimm, was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme in 2005, addresses existential and timelessly contemporary issues such as solidarity, tolerance and freedom, social injustice, migration and aging as well as zest for life, wit and team spirit.

Playful and yet well-founded, entertaining and yet (literary) historically precise, the readings, events and festivals of Bremen’s literary scene repeatedly tie in with these existential topics.

The House of the Town Musicians and Literature (Stadtmusikanten- und Literaturhaus), which will be established in 2025 in the centrally located former Kontorhaus at the market square in the city centre – aptly right near the UNESCO World Heritage Ensemble, Roland (1404) and the Old Town Hall (1408) – and which was developed over the past few years in cooperation with stakeholders like the > Literaturkontor (Literature Office) and the > virtuelles Literaturhaus (Virtual Literature House) will be a multi-functional and open event and literature centre (also thanks to the support of the federal government in the amount of 4.9 million euros which thus acknowledged the national importance of the project), at which the above-mentioned discussions can be resumed and looked at from different angles and kept up to date.

While the edutainment fairy tale exhibit will appeal to tourists, particularly families with children, the Literaturhaus will also be a meeting place for a wide range of authors and free groups that appreciate the literary atmosphere of this city. The aim is to establish an open house with a broad programme that appeals to as many people as possible.

In addition to the regular literary crowd, greater focus will be placed on engaging children and youths in the future. Last, but not least, due to the intersection with the Town Musicians as an exhibit and a topic, the expansion and, thus, the reinforcement of this area appears logical and allows for many clever points of reference. The aim is to create a place to learn outside of school with readings from children’s and youth literature, fairy tale performances, poetry slams, and writing, illustration and comic workshops. Book clubs for children and adults, intercultural formats and shared-reading are all aimed at getting as many communities and different people excited about literature and the cultural technique of reading in Bremen’s historical city centre.

Bremen is as colourful and multilingual as the Town Musicians, who bray, bark, meow and crow, become close friends through the universal language of music and understand each other swimmingly. Seventy languages are spoken in Bremen and thirty-seven percent of the population in Bremen are immigrants, as a recent exhibit at the Focke Museum illustrated. In addition to Low German, which has been under special protection in Bremen and other places since the European Language Charter was signed and which is actively maintained by the > Länderzentrum für Niederdeutsch gGmbH [State Center for Low German] by way of various innovative projects, Turkish, Arabic, Ukrainian and Polish can also be heard on the streets of Bremen.These communities enrich cultural life in Bremen in many ways and their voices will be heard at the future Stadtmusikanten- und Literaturhaus.

The participatory and inclusive audiobook project, > Die Bremer SprachMusikanten (The Bremen Town Language Musicians), under the sponsorship of President of the Werder-Bremen Football Club, Hess-Grunewald, is already symbolically achieving this. This flagship project will continue to grow with more of Bremen’s residents and, possibly, in cooperation with the other Cities of Literature, with the aim of letting the Bremen Town Musicians, with their diverse languages, ring out, ideally in every language of the world ...

With the > Literaturkontor (Literature Office, founded in 1983) and the > virtuelle Literaturhaus (Virtual Literature House, founded in 2004), Bremen possesses two central literary institutions with different focal points which have shaped the literary life of the Hanseatic city for decades. They will be merging in 2025 to form the Stadtmusikanten- und Literaturhaus (House of the Town Musicians and Literature) and will be further  bolstered.

While the Literaturhaus primarily functions as a virtual production site, concentrating on digital formats and literary work with children and youths (for example with the > Schulhausroman (Schoolhouse Novel) and the > Fliegendes Klassenzimmer (Flying Classroom), the Literaturkontor primarily focuses on cooperating with authors from Bremen by organising readings, projects and workshops. Another focus is the promotion of young authors who banded together several years ago to form the > KOLLIT collective and periodically publish the print magazine KOLLER (also in close cooperation with the illustration and comics class at the College of Fine Arts).

Professionalisation and creative writing courses (for instance, in cooperation with the University of Bremen) are also part of the Literaturkontor’s programme. The > LauschOrte – Sound & Stories flagship project was also developed in cooperation with the Konsonanz chamber ensemble and utilises literary, musical miniatures to reframe central historical locations in Bremen’s city centre in a very special way and new sites are being added every year.

Both institutions, the Literaturkontor and the Virtuelles Literaturhaus, have jointly maintained the official literature calendar for several years and regularly send out the > digital Literaturmagazin Bremen newsletter. They cooperate with various players from Bremen’s literary scene to keep the online magazine alive and constantly develop innovative, sometimes cross-media formats like podcasts, written conversations, blogs, reviews, miniatures, essays.

Via the newly implemented > BlogSatz platform, the magazine cooperates closely with the transnational literature studies departments at the University of Bremen and reflects a wide variety of impressive student activities. All of the initiatives and projects in the area of cultural education offered by the Stadtbibliothek (City Library), the Volkshochschule (VHS, Adult Education Centre) and other volunteer institutions, which include the Freiwilligen Agentur, BremerLeselust, Erste Buch (First Book), the Bremer Literaturstiftung (Bremen Literature Foundation) and the Black Children’s Library, the first of its kind in Germany, are neatly compiled under the heading, > Kids.

The Bremen Literature Prize, awarded by the local > Rudolf Alexander Schröder Foundation every January since 1954, is one of the most prestigious awards in the German-speaking countries, not least because of its many courageous and well-informed award choices and the prize money (€25,000). Prize winners include renowned authors such as Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Weiss, Terézia Mora and Elfriede Jelinek. The €6,000 supplementary Advancement Prize for young authors has also been awarded since 1977. The list of award-winning authors in this segment is also impressive.

In addition, the Senator for Culture is committed to promoting younger, as yet lesser-known authors. The Bremen > Author Scholarship has been awarded annually by the Literaturkontor since 1984, and since 2020 it has been expanded to include a scholarship for young writers as well as a project grant, and is linked to an opportunity to complete a residency with the Bremen State Representation in Berlin with the aim of promoting individual Bremen authors and facilitating their access to publicity and institutions at the national level. Every two years since 2008, the Virtuelles Literaturhaus awards the > Bremer Network Residency, which is unique in Germany, to authors whose projects creatively utilise the technical options offered by the Internet, like the current project from Daniela Dröscher: “Come to the park and see!”, which utilises QR codes placed outdoors that are linked to comments.

The range of literary festivals in Bremen is impressive in its diversity.

The > LitWo - Literarische Woche (Literary Week), with changing key topics, represents the annual framework for the awards ceremony held for the Bremen Literature Prize in January. The programme offers readings, exhibitions, discussions and special events for children and youths, so it appeals to as broad an audience as possible.

The international poetry festival > Poetry on the Road, which takes place every spring, has secured Bremen an important place in the international literary scene for almost 25 years. Since the first festival, more than 650 internationally renowned authors from sixty-five nations have performed in the Hanseatic city. The poetry slam, which has been on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Germany since 2016, was successful early on in the framework of Poetry on the Road. The festival has also been successfully cooperating with the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival from Berlin for several years to reinvent poetry and film.

Through > Bremen liest! Die lange Nacht der Literatur (Bremen reads! The Long Night of Literature) and the > Büchermeile (Book Mile) numerous committed bookshops and publishers have also moved into the spotlight over the last several years. Readings, discussions and guided tours provide insight into the places where books are produced and marketed and turn the Langenstraße into a little regional book fair.

The crime novel festival > Prime Time - Crime Time, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2017 under the organisational direction of the > Bremer Kriminal Theater (Bremen Crime Theatre), is the oldest crime literature festival in Germany and makes Bremen an annual meeting place for national and international crime writers.

The > globale°, a festival for border-crossing literature, sees itself as part of the dialogue between cultures and brings to Bremen authors from different cultural backgrounds who mainly live in Germany and write in German and includes texts in other languages that tell stories of border crossings. Every year in autumn, current political and social topics are discussed that appeal particularly to youths and young adults due to the Young globale° format. Thanks to the clever selection of topics and its illustrious guests, the globale° has succeeded in developing enormous outreach. Since 2022, diverse representatives of the UNESCO Cities of Literature have been regularly invited in the framework of the festival to stimulate a productive exchange about new formats and important political debates.

As part of the application process, a new > children’s and youth literature festival - Galaxie der Bücher (Galaxy of Books) was created in 2021 which takes children (age 4 to 12) on a new journey through the universe of stories every year and encourages them to reach for the stars by not only putting them in contact with authors, but also astronauts and aerospace engineers; after all, Astrium and OHB, two major global players in aerospace technology, chose Bremen to host their central headquarters. The festival was conceived and designed by the “Festival Astronauts”, meaning, five to six children who participate in the decision-making process for the selection of the authors, help shape the marketing concepts and much more. Every year, the festival illustrates, in an impressive way, how many renowned and well-known children’s and youth literature authors live in Bremen.

Little festivals and series of readings also enrich Bremen’s literary scene throughout the year, like > Gastgeber Sprache and the series of readings > LiteraTour Nord, > SatzWende, > Li:tz – Literaturfestival jetzt (Literature Festival Now), the > Zine Festival and > Out Loud – The New Bremer Reading Stage at Lagerhaus, that gives strong women a voice on current political issues, as well as numerous events held by the > Institut Français, the > Instituto Cervantes and the > Goethe Institute or the > VS regional group of the Verband Deutscher Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller in Ver/di (Association of Germany Authors in Ver/Di) and the > Günter-Grass Foundation.

Cultural education for a variety of ages and life phases is offered and supported by a wide variety of institutions like the > Stadtbibliothek (City Library), the > Volkshochschule (= VHS, Adult Education Centre), volunteer organisations like the > Freiwilligen Agentur, > BremerLeselust, > Erste Buch (First Book), the > Bremer Literaturstiftung (Bremer Literature Foundation), the > Schwarze Kinderbibliothek (Black Children’s Library) and > Die Lesenden as well as the > inclusive Blaumeier-Atelier, in close cooperation with various district schools and quarters, to convey a love of books, reading and writing in a wide variety of ways.

The Bremen City Library, with its central library and 6 district libraries, a library bus and a branch at the correctional facility, is the largest player in this field and, as a third location, it has continuously developed into a consumption-free, low-threshold, lively adventure space offering a high-quality experience and multi-layered options for encounters, learning and participating in culture that are attractive to wide variety of people, including various migrant communities.

In addition to the current media programme for cultural (continuing) education, the City Library offers a wide range of events on current political and social issues, from panel discussions to lectures, open-interchange formats with network partners to exhibitions and readings

A large part of the population takes advantage of this. In terms of library use per inhabitant, Bremen is well ahead of many other federal states. In 2022, the City Library recorded an impressive 2.2 million visitors and 2.8 million items were borrowed.

In addition to providing current information and literature for in-school and professional training and continuing education and for personal, social and cultural orientation, the library, in cooperation with other organisations from the respective quarters, schools, childcare centres and the VHS, successfully strives to strengthen the promotion of reading outside of school and the teaching of media competence by using modern iPads, VR stations and other media, etc.

In addition, the City Library has received various awards in recent years, most recently, the Bremen Diversity Award in 2015 for its successful work in this field. Thanks to the successful application for the funding program 360° - Fonds für Kulturen der neuen Stadtgesellschaft (360° - Funds for Cultures of the New Urban Community) from the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the work of the City Library on social integration can be continued with greater force. Making their own programme more varied and reaching a more diverse audience continues to have top priority. Furthermore, Barbara Lison, its experienced library director and current President of the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations), has excellent international connections and acts as an important ambassador for Bremen.

The Bremen City Library’s selection is supplemented by the recently established, exclusive programme and refined offer from the > Black Children’s Library. In a safe space and by selecting diversity-conscious children’s and youth literature, readers and children alike will be empowered and exposed to a variety of realities of life and day-to-day worlds.

The > inclusive Blaumeier Atelier, which regularly offers writing courses and workshops for disabled and non-disabled persons and which has published and still publishes a variety of high-quality showcase books has been a pioneer in the field of inclusion for many years. 

The medium of the book as a sensory artifact with tactile, typographical and avant-garde facets is the focus of attention at the internationally renowned > Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen (Centre for Artist Publications). As part of the Bremen collectors museum Weserburg – the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre for Artist Publications comprises a collection of archives, bequests and collections of published works of art, among them, experimental poetry, rare artist books and sound poetry on LPs, CDs and audio cassettes. As a part of thematic research and exhibition projects, this inventory is made accessible to the public in varying new ways and has sparked great international interest.

In cooperation with the Forschungsverbund Künstlerpublikationen (Research Association for Artist Publications), the centre publishes the online magazine, > setup4, and the > Publication Series for Artist Publications. More than 300 acoustic works of art can be heard on the > Sound Collection Platform, including poems, interviews and spoken texts. Continuing to generate more visibility for this treasure trove in innovative ways at exhibitions and outdoors is a goal worth pursuing.

Bremen has a remarkable density and variety of bookshops, approximately forty bookshops, which compares very favourably with other German cities, that create many jobs and, in 2022, generated an impressive annual turnover of 26 million euros. Many committed booksellers make a significant contribution to the lively literary life in Bremen with their wide range as well as with smaller readings and events at their shops. Bookstores such as the Golden Shop, the Georg-Büchner-Buchhandlung, the Lesumer Lesezeit, Logbuch and the Findorffer Bücherfenster have in recent years repeatedly been awarded the German Bookstore Award from the Federal Ministry of Culture for their dedicated work.

In 2020, the > Storm bookstore even received the seal of quality for being particularly outstanding. The managing director's plan to purchase an Italian Piaggio Ape three-wheeler as a mobile bookstore with the prize money caused a bit of a stir in Bremen’s public squares. In 2022, the first-place price went to a Bremen bookstore: the exquisite > Buchhandlung Logbuch, which was established in 2012, produces its own printed materials, regularly organises readings and is highly creative in how it generates customer loyalty, was honoured as the Best Bookshop in Germany by the Commissioner for Culture and the Media of Germany, Claudia Roth.

To honour particularly innovative bookshops and generate more visibility for them, Bremen’s Senator for Culture (in cooperation with the Economics Department) started awarding the > Bremer Bookshop Award in 2021. The awards are always given out on the same weekend on which Bremen liest! Die lange Nacht der Literatur (Bremen reads! The Long Night of Literature) and the Büchermeile (Book Mile) puts a spotlight on bookshops and publishers.

The publishing scene (with a good dozen publishing firms) in Bremen is also diverse. In addition to the Schünemann Verlag, which can look back on a long history in publishing and has distinguished itself for years through its involvement in educational projects such as Das Erste Buch (The First Book), and the Schulhausroman (Schoolhouse Novel), publishers such as Kellner Verlag, Edition Temmen and Donat Verlag have made their mark on the city's publishing world with their Bremensien (books on Bremen) and historical non-fiction books.

The Sujet Verlag, which was awarded the Bremen Diversity Award in 2018, is specialised in poetry collections with a focus on modern Iranian poetry, as well as novels and non-fiction. In contrast to exile literature, Luftwurzelliteratur (‘aerial roots literature’) focuses on the enriching aspects of migration. More recent start-ups such as Musketier Verlag and SadWolf Verlag were able to establish themselves quickly and successfully. Newer independent publishers such as Golden Press, nn-Verlag and the artistic print products from Logbuch impress with exquisite publications with a particularly lovingly applied typography.

The theatre scene in Bremen, which can look back on a long and dazzling tradition and consistently brings classical and modern texts to the stage in increasingly innovative ways, is equally diverse and broad.

Michael Börgerding has been head of the > Theater Bremen since 2012 and, with his concept of viewing the municipal theatre as a laboratory for experiments, continues to open its doors to all Bremen residents. With his diverse programme, which is also supplemented by readings, discussions and literature festivals and repeatedly dares to make unconventional stage adaptations of well-known novels, he is consolidating Bremen's reputation as a city of culture and consciously building on the successful years of the directorship of Kurt Hübner, who set standards in stagecraft in the German-speaking countries between 1962 and in 1973. During that period, Peter Stein, Peter Zadek und Rainer Werner Fassbinder shaped the so-called Bremen style and made international actors such as Bruno Ganz, Edith Clever and Jutta Lampe shine in new productions of old classics.

In addition to this traditional municipal institution with its four genres of stage acting, opera, dance and youth theatre, a diverse theatre scene of independent and private theatres, venues and ensembles with their very own profiles has developed in Bremen. In addition to the puppet theatre > Mensch, Puppe! (Man, Puppet!) and the > Literaturkeller (Literature Cellar), another noteworthy example is the Bremen Shakespeare Company.

The > Bremen Shakespeare Company, founded in 1983 to revive the performance practices of Shakespeare’s time and interpret them in a contemporary way, quickly made a name for itself nationwide with its special performance style (no darkened stage, actors surrounded by the audience) and the focus on one classic playwright. The theatre also maintains an excellent collaboration with the nearby high school. In cooperation with students from the University of Bremen, the Bremen Shakespeare Company brings scene readings with references to the history of the city “From the Archives to the Stage”. The Shakespeare Company has received several awards for its commitment to education policy as well as its courageous productions with current political references.

Bremen has two colleges and two universities that draw many young (international) students. The > College of Fine Arts is a highlight that has become a new hotspot in the comics scene since the foundation of the > Center of Cartooning and Low Comedy. This is, in part, thanks to cartoon greats like Olav Westphalen (also known as Rattelschneck) and Samuel Nyholm (Sany) who teach there and provide an international flair. In cooperation with the newly-founded Comic-Verein (Comics Association) and Kulturnetz e.V. (Cultural Network) have created a veritable comics boom in Bremen in this field. Together, they offer year-round illustration and comic workshops, often in close cooperation with various Cities of Literature, and hold the > Zine Festival once a year at various exhibition centres.

The > University of Bremen is characterised by excellence in various areas and its stakeholders generate a great drive for knowledge transfer by constantly and deliberately seeking connections to the city. The University of Bremen is strong in research and excellent, but is not an ivory tower. It promotes diversity, internationality and communication with Bremen’s cultural community. It considers the transfer of knowledge to be a central obligation that includes broad-based and digital, innovative literary studies. It demonstrates how the sustainable promotion of literature works!

> Bremer Institut für Bilderbuchforschung (BIBF) (Bremen Institute for Picture Book Research) focuses on the literary analysis of picture books, which are interesting because of the interplay of the narrative text and the aesthetic imagery, and on different aspects of language and literature didactics.

The Master’s course of studies in > Transnational Literary Studies: Literature, Theatre, Film teaches the description, reflection and analysis of complex literary, cinematic and theatre-related issues from a transnational perspective. With an interdisciplinary and transmedial focus, academic, practical and transfer-oriented parts of the course complement each other. Theatre schedules and festival programmes are integrated into the curriculum.

The > Research Centre for Eastern European Studies is a non-university research centre at the University of Bremen that was founded in 1982 at the height of the Cold War and is jointly financed by the Conference of Commissioners for Culture and the State of Bremen. The research centre’s archive comprises more than 100,000 valuable documents, photographs and works of art from dissidents from the former Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia as well as Poland and, to a lesser extent, the GDR and Hungary. It includes inventory from the author Lev Kopelev and Yuri Trifonov, the philosopher Boris Groys and materials from the performance artist Dmitri Prigov. Today the research centre sees itself as a place where the Eastern Bloc and its societies with their specific cultures are studied and current developments in the post-Soviet region are analysed. The broadest possible knowledge transfer is also highly important here.

The newly established > North Campus for France and Francophones (CaNoFF) in association with the Universities of Bremen, Flensburg and Rostock, have formed the first university network in Northern Germany for the academic and cultural exchange of various France-related and francophone activities, i.e., with French-speaking countries like Canada, and, in particular, with French-speaking countries in Northwest Africa.  CaNoFF is an open consortium whose aim is to bring in all interested players from the academics, cultural, civil society and the economic sectors as members to create a joint forum for communication and the transfer of knowledge and culture.

The transfer of knowledge is a top priority in and at the university – there are interesting transfer projects in almost all faculties that are largely run by students. Not least because of this, the University of Bremen has been successful several times in applying for the Eine Uni – Eine Stadt – Ein Buch (One University - One City - One Book) from the Stifterverband deutsche Wissenschaft (the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Humanities and Sciences in Germany), the ZEIT Foundation and the Klaus Tschira Foundation. In 2018, the book King Cotton. A History of Global Capitalism by Sven Beckert acted as a starting point to intensify the dialogue between the campus university and the Hanseatic and port city about its colonial past. In 2020/21, without even suspecting this when submitting the application documents, The Plague by Albert Camus, which has been and is widely examined and discussed because of its multifaceted nature and its relevance to topicality, was the book of the hour. The highly topical theme of questioning solidarity anew is shaping a university and a city and is even more topical than ever.

Learn more about the flagship projects with which Bremen is applying for the UNESCO title “City of Literature” and the admission to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network:

Logo in Bannerform von "LauschOrte"

1) LauschOrte – Sound&Stories

Scan them and rediscover and see historical (memorial) sites in Bremen in a different light with literary, musical miniatures as you explore the city, or from the comfort of your own sofa. With their literary texts and music, top-notch Bremer authors and musical ensembles reframe and lend ambiguous facets to locations like the well-known Bremen Town Musicians statue from Gerhard Marcks, the Bismark Equestrian statue, the memorial for the victims of the pogroms in November 1938 or the Spitting Stone that memorialises Gesche Gottfried, a murderer who killed using poison. Every year, new locations are added to Sound&Stories. New additions in 2023 included the Elephant as an anti-colonial memorial, the book-burning square/memorial, the feminist neon signs from Monica Bonvinci as well as the old phone booth in Bremen’s old city district, the Schnoor. Experience Bremen in a completely new way!


Sprachmusikanten Illustration mit Aufschrift ,,Die Bremer Sprachmusikanten''
© Anke Bär

2) The Bremen Town Language Musicians

Come with us on a journey to Bremen! On the path to freedom, with hope, solidarity and courage. Like the Bremen Town Musicians, who travel together with the universal language of music, Bremen sings, laughs, screams, reads and writes in more than seventy languages. How does the rooster crow in Twi or Korean? What does the fairy tale sound like in Low German, in sign language or in simplified language? Bremen’s residents retell the story about the four animals on their journey to Bremen based on the popular version from Janosch. An homage to the Grimm fairy tale and an appeal for cosmopolitanism, solidarity and freedom. The good thing is that the participatory project is continuously adding new languages, like, most recently, the Frisian version of the fairy tale which was contributed by the UNESCO City of Literature Leeuwarden. Listen to the Bremen Town Musicians fairy tale in the languages of the world now!


Konfetti auf Buchseiten
© Rike Oehlerking

3) The digital Literaturmagazin Bremen

The Literaturmagazin Bremen (Literature Magazine Bremen) was founded in 2021 to provide information about the current activities in the field of literature in the central newsletter and on the events calendar and reflect the enormous diversity and untamed creativity of Bremen’s literary scene with podcasts, written conversations, reviews, blogs and videos. Moreover, German Creative Cities and Cities of Literature worldwide, like Heidelberg, Hannover, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Odessa, Leeuwarden and many more, with their respective funding formats and initiatives, are introduced and interviewed in the magazine in order to benefit from the exchange of knowledge and illustrate the numerous opportunities and options offered by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network


In short: Bremen is applying because we have more to offer, and reading is where fairy tales begin...

Bücher bei den Stadtmusikanten
© Rike Oehlerking

In 2019, Oscar winners Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein successfully released the animated film Spy Cat on the international film market as a free adaptation of the Bremen Town Musicians fairy tale and developed clay figures of the four animals ahead of filming. Completely modernised, remastered and with a new message, the donkey, the dog, the cat, and the rooster are stepping up to advocate for Bremen being given the honour of bearing the UNESCO title “City of Literature” starting on 31 October 2023...

© Rike Oehlerking

2023 unesco city of literature – bremen

Bremen bewirbt sich

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