Cultural Regions

Cultural Regions

Ten Cultural Regions

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is made up of the ten cultural regions of Aachen, Bergisches Land, Hellweg, Münsterland, Lower Rhine, East Westphalia-Lippe, Rheinschiene, Ruhr area, Sauerland and South Westphalia. Whether flat or mountainous, urban or rural, small or large: the ten cultural regions reflect NRW’s diversity – artistically as well as culturally.

This is seen not least of all through the Regionale Kulturpolitik NRW (NRW Regional Cultural Policy) program, with which the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science has been funding cultural projects since the end of the 1990s; facilitating new forms of cooperation among those working in the arts and culture and creative impulses in the region. The ten coordination offices of the cultural regions are the points of contact for advice, networking and qualification. NRW is the first joint project of the ten cultural regions. The aim is not only to bring new and creative literary perspectives from outside into the individual regions, but also to focus on NRW as a whole and to promote the exchange of residents and cultural practitioners in the regions.

Introducing the Regions

Aachen Region

Creatively Supporting Culture: We Are Pioneering European and Regional Paths

Famous For: Charlemagne, carnival, RWTH Aachen, the border triangle, the Eifel mountain range and the Aachen Christmas market with delicious gingerbread cookies

Other Highlights: Electric cards, classical music in unusual places, a national park, the Schritt_Macher dance festival (Germany/the Netherlands/Belgium), an industrial heritage and structural change, international flair thanks to its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands

Literary Tours de Force: Norbert Scheuer, the Walter Hasenclever prize, Die Euregio liest, Lit.Eifel, Heinrich-Böll-Haus, Nordeifel-Mordeifel, Literarischer Sommer, Aachener Krimitage

Previous and Current Residents: Kadir Özdemir (2022), Pascal Bovée (2020), Slavica Vlahovic (2017)

Bergisches Land

Down-To-Earth and Visionary

Famous For: Neanderthals, the Schwebebahn suspension monorail, waffles and houses in the colors of black, white and green.

Other Highlights: Quarries, dams, knives and scissors, Pina Bausch, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Herzog von Berg, namesake of this flat to hilly region that is, however, never mountainous.

Literary Tours de Force: Ulla Hahn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Friedrich Engels, Wuppertaler Literatur Biennale, Literaturstadt Langenberg

Previous and Current Residents: Ulrike Anna Bleier (2022), Tilman Strasser (2020), Dimitri Manuel Wäsch (2017)


Famous For: Salt and brine, green sandstone and coal, the world’s largest glass elephant and one of the oldest military and trade routes in Europe

Other Highlights: Thermal spas, the Unna Center for International Light Art, Nibelungs in Soest

Literary Tours de Force: Mord am Hellweg


Previous and Current Residents: Dorian Steinhoff (2022), Annika Stadler (2020), Matthias Jochmann (2017)



Famous For: Castles, crime scenes, horses and bicycles

Other Highlights: Grain, renaturation, neoclassicism, sculptures

Literary Tours de Force: Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Center for Literature, Kulturgut Haus Nottbeck, Lyrikertreffen Münster, der Hase Felix


Previous and Current Residents: Neïtah Janzing (2022), Charlotte Krafft (2020), Claudia Ehlert (2017) 

Lower Rhine

Famous For: Hanns Dieter Hüsch, velveteen and silk, Claudia Schiffer, broad horizons, Walbecker asparagus and sauerkraut fresh from the barrel.

Other Highlights: Protests against “stille Brüter”, bringing an “ecological imperative” (Hans Jonas) into the world and producing artists like Joseph Beuys. Written right into the DNA: boundlessly European.

Literary Tours de Force: The Europäische Übersetzer-Kollegium (European Center for Translators) in Straelen, the Literary Summer in 20 Lower Rhine, Dutch and Flemish cities and, at the moment, Christoph Peters’ Dorfroman, or Village Novel.

Previous and Current Residents: Álvaro Parrilla Álvarez (2022), Carla Kaspari (2020),  Deborah Kötting (2017)

East Westphalia-Lippe

Famous For: A great deal of landscape, Lippischen Pickert, the Externsteine, the Teutoburg Forest, the Princely Abbey of Corvey – a UNESCO World Heritage site and the homebase of famous companies such as Bertelsmann, Dr. Oetker and Miele.

Other Highlights: AJZ Bielefeld/FlaFla Herford/JZ Oerlinghausen – a self-managed youth and culture center, Senner horses, Bildstörung – street theater festival in Detmold, the Hermannsdenkmal monument, the Bielefelder Nachtansichten festival, Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum – the world’s largest computer museum and Marta Herford.

Literary Tours de Force: Wiglaf Droste, Jenny Aloni, Das Europäisches Laboratorium, naturtrüb magazin – feminist magazine for text and design, Ostblock – Kulturhaus Bielefeld, Wege durch das Land –- literature and music festival, Poetische Quellen – literature festival

Previous and Current Residents: Tobias Schulenburg (2022), Yannic Han Biao Federer (2020),  Theresa Hahl (2017)


Famous For: Altbier (top-fermented German top beer), Kölsch beer, art and cliques, Kö und Kirmes (carnival), Beethoven, Schumann, Beuys and Richter, the cathedral and Münster, sociability and great parties

Other Highlights: Költ beer and sake, cherry blossoms and alpinism, mosques and temples, closeness as well as freedom!

Literary Tours de Force: Heinrich Heine and Heinrich Böll, … as well as the home of Uwe Johnson, Hans Pleschinski and Thomas Meinecke. Düsseldorfer Literaturtage, LitCologne and Käpt’n Book.

Previous and Current Residents:  Stefanie de Velasco (2022), Larissa Schleher (2020), Marie-Alice Schultz (2017) 

Ruhr Area

Famous For: French fries and currywurst, drinking halls, industrial culture, authentically direct people.

Other Highlights: It provides inspiration with its culture and artistic diversity and beautiful green nature! Important vocabulary: Halden (stockpiles) – the “mountains” of the Ruhr area.

Literary Tours de Force: Lesart.Festival, LiteraturAufRuhr, the Open Air 178 (the smallest poetry festival in the world),Literatürk, Cornelia Funke, Ralf Rothmann, Hape Kerkeling.

Previous and Current Residents: Rabab Haidar (2022), Brandstifter (2020), Melanie Huber (2017)


Famous For: 1,000 mountains and many dams, breweries and shooting fairs, Germany’s Christmas tree region and a vacation destination for all of the Netherlands as well as the Ruhr area.

Other Highlights: An El Dorado for skiers and mountain bikers, the headquarters of numerous global market leaders, homeland museums, choirs, dance groups, music associations and countless shooting associations as well as historic wayside shrines, crossroads, chapels and churches. International Brass Festival Sauerland-Herbst, Spiritueller Sommer and Briloner JazzNacht.

Literary Tours de Force: Die CRIMINALE, hometown poets such as F.W. Grimme and Christine Koch, Siedlinghauser Kreis, Schmallenberger Dichterstreit, Sauerländer Mundartarchiv and Plattdeutsches Wörterbuch, the dictionary of Low German.

Previous and Current Residents: Tanja Maljartschuk (2022), Justine Z. Bauer (2020), Christian Caravante (2017)  

South Westphalia

Culture is our Thing!

Famous For: Iron, water, Reibekuchen (potato pancakes) with a rolling r and many small factories, world-renowned beer breweries

Other Highlights: World Wide Wirtschaft (the “small factories”), viel erzählen – v. a. Dönekes –, celebrating culture in the fresh air: KulturPur, Südwestfalen sagenhaft, artistic hiking trails, light routes

Literary Tours de Force: The children’s and youth book festival LeseLust Südwestfalen, the European literature festival VielSeitig in Siegen, Berleburger Literaturpflaster

Prevoius and Current Residents: Tobias Siebert (2022), Dr. Barbara Peveling (2020), Lisa Kaufmann (2017)