Hellerau Festival Theatre

Lothar Sprenger

  • year of construction / construction time 1911 — 1912
  • architect Heinrich Tessenow

  • year of construction / construction time 2004 — 2006
  • architect Josef-Peter Meier-Scupin & Partner

building typology

Also known as: Festspielhaus Theatre

The Festival Theatre in Dresden-Hellerau was a radical alternative to traditional theatre buildings of the time and it revolutionised the dance theatre of the 20th century. It was built in 1911/1912 as an “educational facility for music and rhythm” according to plans by the architect Heinrich Tessenow. The Festival Theatre honours that harmonious combination of living, working and culture in a setting close to nature which the European Lebensreform (life reform) movement had been striving for in Saxony’s garden city of Hellerau since 1909.

The Festival Theatre was the centre of cultural life in the housing estate. Tessenow’s design was groundbreaking and influential in its clarity and functional structure. With the ensemble of theatre, forecourt, open-air arena and surrounding atriums and sunlit yards, the architect brought to life the visions of the music educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and the stage designer Adolphe Appia in a futuristic spatial composition. With the orchestra pit, audience seating that could be freely adapted and the lack of stage and curtain, Appia named the Festival Theatre a “cathedral of the future”. The idea was for the audience and performers to merge as a spiritual unity. The focus here was on the “bewegter Mensch” (person in motion) – who, by training his rhythmic abilities, was to become a holistic individual.

With world-famous students like Mary Wigman, a fundamental renewal of theatre and the dance movement proceeded from Hellerau. When the First World War broke out, however, this very promising start ended abruptly. Several attempts to revive it later failed. The Festival Theatre was subject to decades of military use, first when the Nazis seized power and then after 1945 by the Soviet Army.

In 1992 the building was handed back to the Free State of Saxony, which had it restored to its original state. Today, as a venue of the state capital of Dresden, the Festival Theatre is again one of the most important interdisciplinary centres of the contemporary arts. The ensemble of Hellerau as a whole is listed as a protected heritage area. [DB/DK]


Contact and opening hours


Festspielhaus Hellerau
Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 56
01109 Dresden

Opening hours

Das Festspielhaus ist je nach Spielplan bei Veranstaltungen geöffnet oder kann im Rahmen einer angemeldeten Führung besichtigt werden. Es können außerdem spezielle Fürungen für Familien, Kinder und Senioren gebucht werden.

conveying formula

Directions by local public transport:

Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Bahnhof Dresden Neustadt, Dresden Hbf
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): SB Linie 8, Haltestelle Am Festspielhaus

Appia Stage Reloaded

1912/13 schufen der Bühnenbildner Adolphe Appia und der Lichtkünstler Alexander von Salzmann den Prototyp einer neuen, offenen Theaterbühne für das 20. Jahrhundert. Dieser beeindruckende Raum inspirierte weltweit Künstler*innen der Moderne und gilt als direkter Vorläufer der Bauhausideen.

conveying formula

Bühne der Landeshauptstadt Dresden.

Dresden-Hellerau, Hellerau Festival Theatre, Great Hall
Peter R. Fiebig
Dresden-Hellerau, Hellerau Festival Theatre, Great Hall
Dresden-Hellerau, Hellerau Festival Theatre, Foyer East
Peter R. Fiebig
Dresden-Hellerau, Hellerau Festival Theatre, Foyer East

This place is part of the tour:

Tour 1

Examine art and domestic culture

Leipzig, Chemnitz, Dresden, Löbau und Cottbus

In Saxony and Brandenburg you can discover numerous gems of the (residential) culture of the Bauhaus and modernism.

Show tour details
Tillmann Franzen, tillmannfranzen.com