Nearly everyone thinks first of music when mention is made of culture in Bonn. The heritage of Ludwig van Beethoven, born here in 1770, places its obligations on the city. The orchestra of Bonn’s Beethovenhalle is one of the most important cultural "ambassadors", successfully promoting the city abroad. It is one of our best in Germany. It makes an important artistic contribution to the Beethoven Festivals, which have taken place since 1927. Every year in September an international Beethoven-Festival takes place, where famous orchestras and musicians are performing. Bonn's tradition in theatre goes back to the time of the Princes Electors. In 1826 the art-loving citizens built their own theatre. A new theatre was opened on the banks of the Rhine in 1965. The “Großes Haus”, where opera is performed exclusively, seats an audience of 1,037. Both opera and theatre share the theatre workshop (Werkstattbühne) which seats 175. The municipal Bonn Theatre has premises in Bad Godesberg seating 473, and additional theatres, including the “Halle Beuel”. It has made a name for itself, especially in the past few years, with the European Theatre Biennial, which takes place in even years and presents new European stage works.
The commercial theatre also has a good reputation: the “Contra-Kreis Theatre” near the University (seating 216), the “Kleines Theatre” in the Bad Godesberg park (seating 161), the Euro Theatre Central (seating 50) in the Bonn pedestrian precinct and a special youth theatre (Theater der Jugend) (seating 189). The “Brotfabrik” (a converted bread factory), the Brückenforum near the Kennedy Bridge and the “Theatre im Keller” (tik) round off the range of theatres to visit. The “Pantheon Theatre” is a nation-wide renowned specialised satirical cabaret and comedy theatre as well as the improvization theatre “Haus der Springmaus”.
The main events held in conjunction with the international festival “Bonn Summer" (Bonner Sommer) with authentic music and dance performances as well as exhibitions and lectures take place in front of the Old Town Hall (Rathaus) from May to September. Over 250 individual events annually offer a cross-section of national and international culture in this festival, and have often been emulated since 1971: Festivals of the Continents, Bonn Summer Classics, street theatre and Bonn Summer Cinema. "Rheinkultur", which has become the largest German open air rock festival - free of charge – primarily, draws a young crowd.