That was 2011! ESC, We Love Music and So Many Incredible People

Photo ©Dietmar Morand for RhineBuzz

What an extraordinary year 2011 has been!
I've met some incredible people, made some exceptional friends and experienced many wonderful and emotional performances.

The 56th Eurovision Song Contest hit town in May and along with the delegations of 43 nations, 2500 accredited journalists from all over the world; (plus a whole lot that were not accredited) I was in the team that helped set up programmes and show them the gems our city has to offer. We were determined to give our absolute best, after all, the show reaches some 125 million viewers!!!

With Ken Bruce BBC, who has presented Eurovision for the past 24 years,
at the Uerige brewery house

My colleagues and I at Dusseldorf Marketing and Tourism worked our socks off in the run up to and during the festival. It was a unique time for the city when we could show the world the rich cultural variety and great internationality that we have here and yet also the deep Rhenisch traditions of the city. I was privileged to be commissioned to write two new tours for the international visitors we welcomed, 'Art in Düsseldorf' and 'We Love Music'.

Tim and I will be back with 'We Love Music'
in February!
The 'We Love Music' tour was originally conceived to show the astounding musical history of the city which is marked by such iconic artists such as Robert Schumann and Kraftwerk. William Cook, who was in town to write 48 Hours in Düsseldorf for the Independent was the first international guest to sample the tour with Dietmar Morand and myself, William greatly enjoyed Tim's enthusiasm and the modern way in which we presented the city - we were pretty much on a roll after that! The response from the international press has been so incredible that this tour is now part of the city's regular programme of tours. One of the nicest quotes I'd like to share with you was from Antenne Düsseldorf, the city's radio station 'Other cities have regular old city tours - but Düsseldorf has the 'We Love Music' tour...'

The public love the tour too, and for Tim and I there is nothing better then when Düsseldorfers tell us that they have experienced their city anew because of all they discovered on the tour. We love organising surprise guests and delight in giving away tickets to some of the best performances in town. The tour has turned into a real talking newsletter, if you don't know what to do in Düsseldorf come and join the tour!

'We Love Music' will be back every first Saturday of the month from February 4 at 3pm from the Tourist Info in the Altstadt.
April 7 at 5pm sees our first public tour in English.

At the press centre at the Eurovision Arena with Olan McGowan RTÉ Radio from Ireland
Tim and I worked on a piece about Kraftwerk that Olan and I are editing here

I've often been asked, 'What did the ESC bring for the city?' Well, the marketing value was immense. To put this into real figures - I took care of a Dutch journalist couple one afternoon in May. They wrote a double page piece on the city which went nationwide in the Netherlands. Had Düsseldorf paid for advertising space on this kind of scale, the bill would have come to €140.000. Multiply this times all the press that was in the city at the time, add the journalists that have already returned and you begin to get the picture.

Monika Günnewig, Eurovision VIP Volunteer and Mayo Velvo,
Düsseldorf Chansonnier in the Eurolounge

Many are surprised by what they find here, the many museums, the concert venues, the life-style, all offer a quality of life not at all anticipated by the press coming to see us. Again and again I hear 'A top venue' from those that were expecting something quite different. Maybe one of the best compliments was from Gary Bones, executive producer for the BBC Radio 2 Ken Bruce Show, (I helped put together the interviews for the 3 and 1/2 hour show they broadcasted from here), who said he'd love to come back with his other half. Considering the BBC was initially not at all keen to be in Düsseldorf, this is such a compliment for all that worked so very hard during that time. 

Düsseldorf icon Freifrau von Kö is interviewed by the BBC
©Bernd Ahrens Photography

I thought it might grow quiet after Eurovision, but in many ways it has grown busier. I'm booked to show such varied people around town, from retired folks who love the arts to a Chinese group on a round-the-world music tour.

On the roof of the Tonhalle with a group from China including 
top Chinese music producer Zhang Yadong 
©Bernd Ahrens Photography

So what's with RhineBuzz for 2012?
We are working on many new ideas and will have to expand with new freelancers in the coming year. My time is now so taken up by looking after international press not only in Düsseldorf but in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia that I've pretty much come to my limit time and energy-wise! I've also taken on a new role with a life style exhibition at the Messe Düsseldorf.  The RhineBuzz events have been a little neglected in 2011, I know, I'm sorry, but I'm doing all I can to bring you more and varied events in the New Year.

Our very fruitful partnership with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein will continue of course. Our first event will be Il Barbiere di Siviglia on February 5 and the AIDS Benefit Gala on March 3 2012. The new partnership in 2011 with the spectacular Tonhalle has also proved most enriching for the RhineBuzz community. We will certainly be building on this and we are greatly looking forward to the bi-annual Schumann Festival in May/June 2012.
As one RhineBuzzer wrote on facebook "Twelve months, a new year ahead...I do hope that my diary will show as many times 'wonderful evening with Rhinebuzz' as it did this year."

I will certainly try my very best to fulfill this wish!

Thank you, thank you :) to all the wonderful folks I've met in 2011 from all around the globe. You have enriched my days, and I'm very lucky to have met you all. I hope that you do return to Düsseldorf as promised and that I have another chance to show you around.

I wish you all, our readers, our visitors, my wonderful colleagues, photographers, writers and the extraordinary artists I've met in 2011 a very peaceful, fulfilling and happy 2012 and hope to see you around town soon! Keep buzzing!