Störtebeker Festspiele – Open-Air Theatre on Rügen

The Störtebeker Festspiele are an annual event on the Island of Rügen, on the North-Eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic See (Ostsee).

Started in 1993, the plays tell the story of Klaus Störtebeker, a German pirate who apparently lived at the end of the 14th Century.  Legend has it, that he stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but was also known for his ability to drink large quantities of beer.  The plays on Rügen are often inter-linked, with the story continuing from year to year.

One side of the stage for the 2011 production of the Störtebeker Festspiele

One side of the stage for the 2011 production

Describing the theatre as “open-air” does not really do it justice.  The stage is on the water’s edge – behind it four ships take part in the action.  It is big enough (and strong enough) for 30 horses to be used, and many of the actors ride at sometime during the performance.

Further out in the bay, a barge is loaded with fireworks for the end of the performance, whilst in the other direction there is seating for over 8,000 people, as well as Störti’s bar, where the cast and crew can be seen before and after the performance.

Centre stage looking out over the Grosse Jasmunder Bodden at the Störtebeker Festspiele

Centre stage looking out over the Große Jasmunder Bodden

And for almost 3 months each summer, the actors, many with recurring roles, come together on Rügen to put on the plays, with the audience coming from quite some distance to see it.

On the evening that I attended the Festspiele the coaches full of visitors started arriving at around 4pm, and outside the theatre there is a festival-type atmosphere of stands serving food and drink.

It should be noted that “Flaschen und Naschen” (bottles and nibbles) are allowed, so it is not a problem if people want to take their own with them, or have them left over from a picnic on the coast.

Smoke and fire during the Störtebeker Festspiele 2011

Smoke and fire

Those coming by car park are directed to one of two large car parks outside the village, from where it is a 15 minute walk to the theatre.  Although after the show it took almost twice as long to get back again!

Once seated, the show lasts about 2½ hours, including a 30 minute interval.  Capes (ponchos) can be purchased at the entrance if you think it is going to rain, but I was lucky enough to see a dry performance, and once the pyrotechnics started on stage it was even quite warm.

The title role of Klaus Störtebeker has been played for the last 10 seasons by Sascha Gluth, who grew up further along the Baltic coast.

Sascha Gluth as Klaus Störtebeker during the Störtebeker Festspiele

Sascha Gluth as Klaus Störtebeker

Meanwhile the role of the Bard Abellin is played by East-German television presenter and singer Wolfgang Lippert.

Wolfgang Lippert as Abellin during the Störtebeker Festspiele

Wolfgang Lippert as Abellin

The 2011 play continues a 3-part story involving the Knights Templar, taking the story to a family feud in Scotland in search of hidden treasure.  It was my first visit to the Festspiele, and although I had heard quite a bit about them before, it was a unique experience to be in such a large and beautifully located theatre.

The castle floodlit after nightfall at the Störtebeker Festspiele

The castle floodlit after nightfall

And once night fell, the stage was floodlit and the fires – some of them even coming out of the stage floor – added to the dramatic scenes.

Gold at the Störtebeker Festspiele!


Getting to the Festspiele from my part of Germany is not easy.  In theory it is 7 hour drive to get there, but with bad weather and traffic jams my journey took me considerably longer.  But for anyone staying a week on Rügen  it is a spectacle not to be missed!

Tickets to the Störtebeker Festspiele can be bought via the homepage,

I would like to thank the Störtebeker Festspiele GmbH & Co. KG for allowing me to publish photos taken during the performance.


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. […] this is the week in June when I travel to see the Störtebeker Festspiele on Rügen and write about other places on the island to […]

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