The Beatles in Hamburg

It’s the city where the Fab Four – technically, more like the Fantastic Five at the time – came of age musically, caught the ear of manager Brian Epstein and spent their nights rocking raucous crowds in the red-light district. It’s also where they recorded their first record, “My Bonnie,” 52 years ago on June 22 and 23, 1961.

Yes, before the Beatles were mop-top poster boys for legions of screaming middle-class teenage girls across Europe and North America, they were a gritty rock ‘n’ roll band lighting the club scene in the St. Pauli section of Hamburg, Germany, on fire.

The port city played host to the Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best (and eventually Ringo Starr) – beginning in the summer of 1960 through the end of 1962 (and on occasion in subsequent years).

More than 50 years later, Hamburg stands as something of a living Beatles museum. Clubs like The Indra and the Kaiserkeller, where the group played countless shows, still stand, as does one of their favourite places to stop and grab a pint – Gretel & Alfons. The city also features a giant vinyl record and life-size metallic cutouts of the group in the recently renamed Beatles Platz public square.

For fans of the Fab Four looking to escape on a Beatles-inspired vacation (or “Beat-cation”), visit