A festival without boundaries


Radically reinterpreted classics, outstanding world premieres, multimedia spectacles, young talents, and real world stars – in Leverkusen, Wuppertal and other venues around Bayer AG locations, the stARTfestival has established itself since 2021 as a series of events that rethinks culture and makes it an experience for all the senses.

Culture enriches our lives, broadens horizons, and inspires innovation. For us, it is the key to a diverse and forward-thinking society.
Thomas Helfrich
Head of Bayer Arts and Culture

The heart of the festival is the Erholungshaus in Leverkusen. The Scala Club, just a few kilometers away, and exceptional locations like Altenberger Dom in Odenthal are also represented as venues. The visually and acoustically phenomenal Historic City Hall in Wuppertal hosts two orchestras each year that don't perform there regularly. The cultural program has also been enjoyed by audiences in Berlin, Leipzig, and Eisenach.

Artists need freedom to shine

The festival is also a creative platform for the young artists of the stARTacademy. Bayer Arts and Culture facilitates their networking among themselves and with established stars. For their performances, they are often given the opportunity to engage in a creative process with a "Carte Blanche." This results in exciting and unprecedented programs – and Bayer Arts and Culture makes a significant contribution to a vibrant and diverse music landscape.

We want to make extraordinary music and formats accessible, which are rarely seen in regular concert settings. Whether world stars or new talents: artists who love to challenge themselves and trust their audience perform at our festival.
Christoph Böhmke
Leiter stARTfestival

An artwork is great but rarely performed? Let's hear it!

The program consistently crosses genre boundaries and holds surprises for curious culture enthusiasts.

Whether rarely heard works or often underestimated instruments, Bayer Arts and Culture loves to present them in a new light. Thus, the accordion becomes a magical toolbox, the tuba a solo instrument, an entire concert evening surprises with Humperdinck's rarely played (and charming!) Wagner arrangements, or Frédéric Chopin's work gets a modern electronic twist.

Eyes and ears open – experiencing music in a completely different way

In 2024, Bayer Arts and Culture invited the audience to a lounge night: comfortably lying down right next to the grand piano on the stage, it experienced the sounds of pianist Beatrice Berrut. Multitalented Marc Schwämmlein and his cross-creative team have already presented imaginative family concerts with live-painted stage designs twice. The flexible seating of the Erholungshaus also allows for concert evenings with arena seating. This format enables an intense musical experience, where the audience meets the artists up close and on eye level.

Key Visual: Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo © Hanne Engwald