Bielefeld can be a challenging place to live for an expat looking for social connections. Thriving expat communities like the ones you find in cities such as Frankfurt am Main and Berlin unfortunately do not exist in Bielefeld. But don’t despair, there are other internationals here in Bielefeld that are looking to make contact! You might have to look around a bit, though.
To make it easier for you, I have made a list of all the groups I know of below. The page was last updated in January 2024. All the groups are free unless mentioned otherwise.
English-speaking social groups in Bielefeld
The Englisch Stammtisch Bielefeld – this group has existed for almost 50 years (!), members are a mix of German people looking to improve their English, German people with excellent English who enjoy speaking it (this is probably the biggest group), and expats looking to not speak German for an evening. They meet up every two weeks on Friday. Check the blog to see when the next meetup is. You can also join the Facebook group, but the blog has more up-to-date info, I find.
English-speaking parents in Bielefeld – this new group organises informal get-togethers for English-speaking parents and their kids, such as a picnic, Halloween, and a book swap for English children’s books. A regular activity is story time at the Bielefeld library. You can be kept informed of activities via the newsletter, or you can join the WhatsApp group for more direct contact with other parents. More info here.
Knitting at the university – This is a very new group (I’m writing this in January 2024), started by an Irish friend of mine. This is an English-speaking group, not only for internationals but for anyone who likes to knit/crochet and speak English. The flyer says it is for students, but my friend tells me everybody is welcome. They meet every second Tuesday from 17:30-19:30. Just scan the QR code and join the WhatsApp group. If that’s a problem, you can email me, and I’ll put you in touch with her.
Bielefeld Internationals WhatsApp group – this used to be a group on meetup.com, but it’s a WhatsApp group nowadays. It’s a bit sleepy, but occasionally someone will suggest meeting up, and it is also a good place to ask for advice on issues that internationals in Bielefeld run into. I’m a member of the group, so if you want to join, email me your number for WhatsApp and I can ask the admins to add you. info (at) heddwennewton.com
Bielefeld University’s English Drama Group – If you like theatre and are a student, this is the group for you. They have some old websites floating around, so beware of googling them. Here’s the current blog, and the Facebook page. (I don’t know if this group costs any money)
English-speaking book clubs in Bielefeld
Heddwen’s book club for (near) native speakers – I am Heddwen and you are currently on my website. Hi!
I started a book club for other native speakers and near native speakers in 2022, and it has been great. So great in fact, that I started another one.
The two groups are currently almost full, but if you are an English speaker with a love of reading, and you don’t mind committing to a monthly meeting, please reach out! Read more here.
Bielefeld Internationals Book Club – This book club is a WhatsApp group with irregular meetups. This is the place for you if you just want to be in a WhatsApp group and join a book club meetup when it takes your fancy, rather than committing to a meeting once a month.
I am not in this group and have nothing to do with the organisation of this group (I’m just mentioning this to clear up any confusion, not because I think the group is crummy or anything!)
I am in contact with the admin, so send me your phone number if you want to join, and I’ll ask her to add you. bookclub (at) heddwennewton.com.
You will not hurt my feelings by emailing me and asking to be added to a different group, promise. I will pass your number on in the knowledge of having helped a fellow English speaker in Bielefeld to find a group that is right for them 🙂
Book club on Meetup.com – Judging by how many English book clubs there are in Bielefeld, reading books is clearly what all the cool kids are doing right now. The meetup.com book club has monthly meetups, usually at around 2 pm on Sundays, and attendance is optional. More info here.
German social groups with international members in Bielefeld
Neu in Bielefeld on Meetup.com – not for English speakers specifically, but I have found there are quite a few internationals in the group, and the German members tend to speak good English. This is not a place to practice your English, but if you are an expat looking to meet new friends, both German and international, this is a good group to try.
r/bielefeld on Reddit – not a social group, but certainly a place where English-speaking people from Bielefeld hang out online. Now and then there will be a shout-out for a new Dungeons and Dragons group, or a spontaneous meetup, or something along those lines. At the top of the page, you will find a link to the Bielefeld Discord, where you can chat to people in Bielefeld in real time.
Knitting at the Bielefeld Library – every Friday from 14.00 to 17.00, people gather in the main part of the library to continue their own personal knitting, crocheting, embroidery or similar projects. It is not aimed at internationals, but a friend who doesn’t speak German told me she always felt very welcome and always found someone to chat to in either English, or, in her case, Spanish. (She has since moved away, sadly!) It is called “Irgendwas is’ immer” and you can find some information here, but mostly it is a case of just showing up.
Groups to practice English
English conversation classes at Volkshochschule – I do not know much about these classes except what I have read online, but I love the Volkshochschule as it is a place where people from all walks of life can improve their skills in almost any subject for not too much money. Here is a list of all their English courses, scroll through to find “conversation skills”. (116 euros/ 58 euros with Bielefeld pass)
Englisch Stammtisch – the English Stammtisch mentioned right at the top of this piece is also a great place to go if you are a non-native speaker wanting to practice your English.
Groups that are no longer active
English groups on Facebook – I’m just adding this category to save you the effort of looking on Facebook yourself. The best Facebook group to go to if you want to meet English speakers in Bielefeld is the Englisch Stammtisch mentioned at the top. The other two relevant-looking Facebook groups: Expats in Bielefeld and Native English speakers and friends living in NRW have both been paused by their admins. Bielefeld’s English crowd hasn’t even added me yet, and I’ve been waiting for several months. So there is no point in joining those groups.
Do you know of any groups I missed?
Do you know of any other good groups for English speakers in Bielefeld? Share your knowledge in the comments!
Photo credit: https://relaxdach.de/terrassenueberdachung-bielefeld/