Venue changes

Refugee Shelter Hits Berlin Cultural Plans

Last year's Formula E grand prix at Tempelhof was a runaway success.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • With more than a million refugees arriving in Germany last year, the country is scrambling to accommodate them. Doing so means many people are having to make changes or sacrifices.
  • Facts


    • Building a refugee shelter in the grounds of the former Tempelhof airport has forced several of Berlin’s major events to move or reschedule.
    • The Formula E grand prix will move to the city center and the Lollapalooza music festival, which attracts 50,000, will move to a park.
    • Many residents and businessmen are unhappy about the moves.
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The housing of thousands of refugees at Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport has set off a scramble to find new venues for some 30 events previously held on its grounds.

Among the biggest attractions forced to alter plans is the 2016 Berlin stop on the Formula E series for electric cars. The e-mobility race was held last year on roads in and around the airfield, which closed in 2008 when it was turned into a huge park.

But housing some of the more than 1 million migrants in Germany has become priority this year. The famous Nazi-designed terminal building and hangars that sweep round a long section of the airfield’s perimeter are being converted to accommodate up to 7,000 refugees, putting paid to events such as Formula E, the Lollapalooza music festival and Bread & Butter fashion fair.

But organizers at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, motorsport’s governing body, have decided to stick with Berlin for its May 21 Formula E race. Now the Berlin Senate is seeking to shift the circuit to Karl-Marx-Allee, the broad communist-era boulevard that once hosted East German military parades. The 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) route would run from the famous Alexanderplatz.

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