Germany Festivals

Photograph: BBC Travel

Festivals in Germany

Narrow the Germany Festivals selection below using the intiutive search box to the right. It works a treat. Bon voyage!

Barthelmarkt

Barthelmarkt

Don the dirndl or pop on the leather shorts and make your way to Manching near Ingolstadt for four days of beer-based fun. Though first made mention of in 1354, the roots of Barthelmarkt can be traced back to the 1st century BC when a cattle market was established in the district by the Romans. Today Barthelmarkt is a little more about beer than bovines, although there's still horse racing on the Saturday and a cattle market on the Monday. Just like it's Oktoberfest cousin, there's the ubiquitous behemoth beer tents and plenty of German oompah music, pretzels and general Bavarian revelry.

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Europe Germany Manching Beer Festivals Traditional Festivals August
Berlin Carnival of Cultures

Berlin Carnival of Cultures

In Germany it's known as the fifth season, it's a time to shake off the winter blues, don some elaborate threads and take to the streets to usher in Spring. It's Carnival time and if you thought it was a predominantly South American celebration, think again. Berlin's Carnival of Cultures is a behemoth, a four-day urban celebration that embraces diversity and attracts in the region of a million revellers annually. There's beats aplenty on the festival stages from Caribbean Soca and Reggae to Brazilian Samba and African Roots and the international cuisine on offer is just as varied. For many the highlight of the Carnival of Cultures is the street procession on Pentecost Sunday when almost 5,000 participants from 80 countries parade through the capital's streets in traditional costume performing all manner of ritual and mashed-up dance styles.

More Berlin Carnival of Cultures info...

Europe Germany Berlin Carnival and Mardi Gras Street Parties May
Berlin Christmas Markets

Berlin Christmas Markets

Berlin lights up in the lead up to Christmas as sixty Christmas markets set up shop to usher in the festive season. From early November Potsdamer Platz kicks off the season with Europe's largest mobile toboggan run (complete with views of the Brandenburg Gate), an outdoor skating rink, curling and a number of traditional huts offering local seasonal treats. Head on over to the Dahlem Museum campus for the market of the continents where more than fifty dealers offer handicrafts from different regions of the world — from hand-woven African fabrics and jewellery from India to felt goods from Kazakhstan and colourful Mexican tin toys. For more than forty years, the small streets and squares in Spandauer Altstadt (Berlin's largest continuous pedestrian zone) have played host to more than 250 market stalls selling everything from handicrafts to the local Glühwein — a great way to keep warm on a cold December eve.

More Berlin Christmas Markets info...

Europe Germany Berlin Christmas Markets Christmas December
Berlin Design Week

Berlin Design Week

Anyone who's planted their foot on the accelerator of a finely-tuned Porsche or clicked the shutter button on a Leica camera, know that our German cousins have a real flair for design. For a week each May, numerous galleries, museums, studios and design institutions bring that ethos to the fore (and the public), during Berlin Design Week. A packed programme of design-themed exhibitions and events take place throughout Berlin. As part of the BDW, numerous Berlin-based studios and workspaces will open their doors and invite visitors to openings, concerts, studio tours and lectures.

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Europe Germany Berlin Design Festivals May
Berlin Festival

Berlin Festival

This is Templehof Tower, you have clearance to party. Join Berlin's beautiful people at the runways and hangars of the iconic, Flughafen Tempelhof for the annual Berlin Festival. Two days, four stages and more than 70 acts (indie pop, rock and dance) do their thing on the tarmac and at Club Xberg at Arena Berlin. If you tire of the tunes, there's the Art Village with its abundance of artists and performers, the Church of Phonk, the Barkowski Pub, the art market and the poetry saloon to keep you entertained. Roger that.

More Berlin Festival info...

Europe Germany Berlin Indie Rock Festivals Rock Festivals September
Berlin Light Festival

Berlin Light Festival

For ten days during October, as the autumn months make way for another dark European winter, a vivid change comes over the landmarks, monuments, buildings and neighbourhoods of the German capital. It's the annual Berlin Festival of Lights, an extravaganza of illumination that attracts in excess of two million spectators each year. An ever-changing annual lineup of light installations that are conceptualised by some of Germany and the world's leading artists. Grab a program and hit the installation trail on foot, or for something different take a horse-drawn carriage, rent a Segway, or for the adventurous, take a hot air balloon trip and see Berlin in a whole different light.

More Berlin Light Festival info...

Europe Germany Berlin Light Festivals Art Festivals October
Berlinale

Berlinale

With in excess of 500,000 admissions to its 400 films, Berlinale is the largest publicly attended film festival in the world. Films on the Berlinale programme span a wide array of genres from arthouse and experimental to documentary and full-length features. The Competition section features full-length features yet to be released outside their country of origin that compete for the festival's prestigious Golden Bear Award and Silver Bear Awards for acting, writing and production. Held simultaneously with Berlinale is the the European Film Market, a film trade fair and an important meeting point for those in the film industry.

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Europe Germany Berlin Film Festivals February
Bremen Maritime Festival

Bremen Maritime Festival

Get nautical with the sea-loving folk of Bremen at their annual Maritime Festival. Join 60,000 revellers as they head to the harbour and maritime mile in the city's Vegesack district for a waterfront musical extravaganza. Don't miss the grand finale come Sunday when fireworks light the night sky over the River Weser.

More Bremen Maritime Festival info...

Europe Germany Bremen Nautical Events Rock Festivals August
Cannstatter Volksfest

Cannstatter Volksfest

You gotta hand it to our German cousins, they sure know how to host a beer festival! Though if you ask a local, the Cannstatter Volksfest (or the Stuttgart Beer Festival to some less cultured souls) ain't just about the amber nectar. There's flashy rides, men in tight leather shorts with questionable rhythm, roast chickens, buxom beauties, barmaids with bulging biceps, fireworks, I could go on but I guess you'd rather I didn't. If the Volksfest were a beer festival — though it isn't — it would be the second largest beer festival in the world behind Munich's Oktoberfest. Prost...or not.

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Europe Germany Stuttgart Beer Festivals Fairs September
Christopher Street Day

Christopher Street Day

Paying tribute to trailblazers of the LGBT cause, Berlin's Christopher Street Day is named (and held in memory of) the first substantial uprising of homosexuals against police assaults in Greenwich Village (New York) on 27 June, 1969. The riots on that day — dubbed the Stonewall Riots — took place in a bar called the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. In Germany, Christopher Street Day was first celebrated in Berlin in 1979 and since then has grown to become known as one of Europe's largest Pride celebrations. Half a million revellers dance up a storm during the colourful street parade which kicks off at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Joachimstaler Straße and ends at Brandenburg Gate. The after-parade party continues through the night at many of Berlin's bars and clubs.

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Europe Germany Berlin Pride Festivals Street Parades July
Cologne Carnival

Cologne Carnival

Get into the German spirit by downing a stein of some local Kölsch beer at a rowdy beer hall, before hitting the streets of the old town to fill your bags with Kamelle sweets and Strüssche flowers thrown from passing parade floats. Raucous brass bands, men's ties cut in half, and shouts of Kölle Alaaf! — Cologne, before all others! — work the huge crowds into a frenzy during Cologne Carnival. Official carnival celebrations kick off in Alter Markt on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent, marking the start of a week of revelry dubbed, the crazy days which end on Ash Wednesday. The highlight of celebrations is Monday's Rose Parade which attracts annual crowds of more than a million, making it one of Europe's largest street festivals.

More Cologne Carnival info...

Europe Germany Cologne Carnival and Mardi Gras Street Parades February
DOK Leipzig

DOK Leipzig

Starting out life in 1955, as the All-German Leipzig Festival of Cultural and Documentary Films, Dok Leipzig (today's snappier title) was the first independent film festival in East Germany. In 1993 following reunification with the West, attendee numbers dropped significantly but things began picked up again after that and have been on the up ever since. In 1995 a separate competition for animated film was added to the line-up and in 2004 a number of industry-specific events also made their way onto the programme. Today's week long festival features a rich selection of hundreds of documentary and animated films, screened in cinemas across Leipzig.

More DOK Leipzig info...

Europe Germany Leipzig Film Festivals October
Dusseldorf Christmas Markets

Dusseldorf Christmas Markets

Downtown Dusseldorf turns on the festive cheer each year from mid-November, during the annual Dusseldorf Christmas Markets. Make your way to Marktplatz, Dusseldorf's Christmas market quarter at the heart of her old town. Here you'll find lovingly created wooden huts modelled in the colour and style on the city's renaissance City Hall, from which artisans work iron, blow glass and turn wood in traditions dating back centuries. Pick out some hand-made traditional gifts for friends and family, marvel at the life-sized manger or take a spin on the antique carousel. From here it's only a short stroll to Heinrich-Heine-Platz for the Engelchenmarkt (Little Angel Market) where Market huts are adorned with floral motifs and angel figures in wrought iron. Here you can sample traditional or contemporary festive fare or warm up with a splash of fragrant mulled wine. Finish up with a skate at Gustaf-Grundgens-Platz where a winter workout on the 450m2 ice-skating rink will get you in the mood to sample some delicious Reibekuchen (potato pancakes).

More Dusseldorf Christmas Markets info...

Europe Germany Dusseldorf Christmas Markets Christmas December
Dusseldorf Festival

Dusseldorf Festival

The Dusseldorf Festival will once again be serving up its exciting blend of dance, theatre, classical and world music, circus and performance art this September. With a packed programme of eclectic events spread over 19 days and as many venues, the festival promises something for the culture vulture in all of us.

More Dusseldorf Festival info...

Europe Germany Dusseldorf Performing Arts Festivals September
Frankfurt Apple Wine Festival

Frankfurt Apple Wine Festival

In Frankfurt, apple wine is the local tipple of choice. Each August the city celebrates its love of the fermented fruit with the annual Apple Wine Festival. Typical Frankfurt folklore and dialect poetry provide old-time amusement for both the young and young at heart, while nearby Hessian cult bands get their audiences up and singing and dancing in the streets. For those who prefer a slightly more relaxed vibe to imbibe, there's a little lounge music on offer too, providing the perfect atmospheric background for enjoying an unconventional apple wine cocktail. Zum Wohl!

More Frankfurt Apple Wine Festival info...

Europe Germany Frankfurt Wine Festivals August
Frankfurt Autumn Dippemess

Frankfurt Autumn Dippemess

Frankfurt's autumn Dippemess (there's also a Spring Dippemess in April) is the largest folk festival in the Rhine-Main region, with roots dating back to the 14th century where it was a medieval market for domestic articles. Today the Dippemess maintains the market but doubles it up with a family-friendly parish fair featuring rides, games and food and drink.

More Frankfurt Autumn Dippemess info...

Europe Germany Frankfurt Fairs Family Festivals September
Frankfurt Book Fair

Frankfurt Book Fair

Frankfurt's history with the published word is well documented. Just down the road in Mainz, Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press way back in 1439. Book fairs have been a part of the city from that time on. In its current form, the Frankfurt Book Fair has been around since 1949, when Frankfurt's Paulskirche hosted the first post-War book fair. Today the Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest in the world, welcoming more than a quarter of a million visitors and 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries. It's a must visit event for those in the publishing industry as well as great place to stock up on reading materials for the long Northern European winter to come. The first three days are limited to those in the trade and on the weekend the Fair is open to the public.

More Frankfurt Book Fair info...

Europe Germany Frankfurt Book Fairs October
Frankfurt Christmas Markets

Frankfurt Christmas Markets

Join more than three million annual visitors as they take in the history and splendour of Frankfurt's age old Christmas market — believed to have been held as far back as 1393. Visitors can stock up on local gifts and decorations from the 200 stalls, warm up with a cup of mulled wine and enjoy the life sized nativity scene or the lovingly maintained carousel.

More Frankfurt Christmas Markets info...

Europe Germany Frankfurt Christmas Christmas Markets December
Hamburg Christmas Markets

Hamburg Christmas Markets

Hanseatic Hamburg turns on the Christmas charm each and every December with a wide range of Christmas markets and a packed festive programme. The most charming of Hamburg's Christmas markets takes place on the market square directly in front of their iconic Neo-Renaissance Town Hall (Rathaus). Take a deep breathe and savour the seasonal scent of roasted almonds, gingerbread and fir or grab a warming cup of gluhwein. Wander the stalls where you can watch artisans working their age-old crafts. Children will want to head straight for Spielzeuggasse (Toy Street) where merchants from around the world offer up a colourful range of gifts. If you time your visit well you might even catch a visit from Santa Claus hovering above.

More Hamburg Christmas Markets info...

Europe Germany Hamburg Christmas Markets Christmas December
Hamburger Dom

Hamburger Dom

The Hamburger Dom is the largest public festival held in Northern Germany with a history that can be loosely traced back to 1329. If you missed it, never mind, there's three held each year (spring, summer and winter), so another will be along in no time. The Dom is an institution in Hanseatic Hamburg. Each year more then ten million visitors walk the Dom's three kilometre course, take to her rides, enjoy her colourful attractions, marvel at her show booths, feast on her fare and look towards the heavens at her fireworks (every Friday evening at 10.30pm above the Heiligengeistfeld).

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Europe Germany Hamburg Fairs Family Festivals Varies
Heidelberg Spring

Heidelberg Spring

Since its first outing in 1997, Heidelberg Spring has established itself as one of Germany's most exciting and innovative classical music festivals, offering top-class performances by world-renowned musicians. Concerts, lectures, panel discussions, workshops and sometimes innovative sessions accompanying the concerts make up the packed programme of over 90 events. A highlight of Heidelberg Spring is their acclaimed String Quartet Fest where quartets perform, rehearse, experiment and debate different approaches, not behind closed doors but in the presence of enthusiastic audiences.

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Europe Germany Heidelberg Classical Music and Opera Festivals March
Hurricane Festival

Hurricane Festival

With a history as turbulent as its name, Hurricane first graced the stage as Es rockt in der Heide in 1973. In 1977 as the First Rider Open Air Festival, things kicked off as fans rioted when only five of the 23 scheduled acts turned up to play. Fast forward to 2004 and David Bowie left the Hurricane stage early suffering from chest pain. It was later learnt he'd suffered a heart attack. In recent years Hurricane has settled into a bit of summer festival normality as tens of thousands of fans rock out to huge headline acts over three days each June.

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Europe Germany Bremen Rock Festivals Indie Rock Festivals June
Jazz on the Third

Jazz on the Third

For those in the know, Frankfurt is the epicentre of Germany's jazz scene. On the third of October annually they back up that rep' with a huge, free open-air jazz happening. From 1pm locals and visitors alike flock to Römerberg, Frankfurt's old town centre for Jazz zum Dritten, Jazz on the Third. Some of the country's premier jazz musicians and visiting performers play to thousands in a wonderful celebration of the Day of German Unity.

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Europe Germany Frankfurt Jazz Festivals October
Kulmbach Beer Week

Kulmbach Beer Week

For a little over a week every July another Bavarian town celebrates it's love of the amber fizz. The Kulmbach Beer Week on the edge of the Thuringian Forest may not rival Munich's Oktoberfest for size or extravagance but what it lacks in magnitude, it certainly makes up for in atmosphere, choice and quality. Pay them a visit and take on Kulminator 28, one of the strongest beers in the world.

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Europe Germany Kulmbach Beer Festivals July
Maschsee Lake Festival

Maschsee Lake Festival

The Maschsee Lake Festival attracts millions to the shores of Hannover's Maschsee Lake for a grandiose lineup of concerts and performances each summer. Boat cruises, fireworks, dancing under the stars, sporting events and an abundance of delectable fare add to the spectacle making it one of northern Germany's must-see events.

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Europe Germany Hannover Summer Festivals Family Festivals August
Nordic Film Days Lubeck

Nordic Film Days Lubeck

The Nordic Film Festival Lubeck lights up the dark early days of the Northern European winter with a selection of feature films, documentaries and short films from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden for four days each November. It is the only festival in Europe to feature a programme consisting entirely of films from the continent's North and Northeast. The festival also features an extensive children's and youth programme, a retrospective devoted to important eras, specific genres or famous names from the history of film and a range of seminars, discussions and roundtable talks.

More Nordic Film Days Lubeck info...

Europe Germany Lubeck Film Festivals Short Film Festivals Documentary Film Festivals November
Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest, the world's largest and most celebrated beer festival. Never been? Close your eyes and picture part Disneyland, part Bud Brewery. Oktoberfest is to the beer aficionado what Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory is to the sweet-toothed. Rides, beer, roast chicken, beer, pretzels, beer, lederhosen, did I mention beer? Six million litres of the stuff! Set on grounds of over 100 acres, Oktoberfest has consistently attracted in the region of six million visitors year in, year out since 1980. So if you enjoy your sustenance in a shade of amber delivered by a voluptuous Bavarian beauty to an oompha backbeat then Oktoberfest may just be the beer fest for you.

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Europe Germany Munich Beer Festivals Traditional Festivals September
Opera Square Festival

Opera Square Festival

Frankfurt's magnificent Opera House provides the stunning backdrop for the annual Opera Square Festival, a celebration of the culinary delights of the region. A diverse stage programme featuring everything from jazz to pop and a wide range of temptations for the tastebuds. What could be better?

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Europe Germany Frankfurt Food Festivals Classical Music and Opera Festivals Jazz Festivals June
Reeperbahn Festival

Reeperbahn Festival

Hamburg's most infamous strip, The Reeperbahn, plays host to Germany's largest club festival each September. The Reeperbahn Festival attracts more than 30,000 revellers to the clubs, bars and theatres on and around the Reeperbahn for a four day mix of indie, pop, rock, folk, electro, hip hop, soul and jazz performed by the industry's newest talent. Pack light and prepare to party hard.

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Europe Germany Hamburg Electronic Dance Music Festivals Indie Rock Festivals September
Rhine in Flames

Rhine in Flames

Rhine in flames — almost an oxymoron! On five separate summer evenings along the fetching River Rhine in the vicinity of the historic city of Bonn, spectacular pyrotechnics displays shot from the hilltops and Europe's largest river fleet light up the night sky and the surrounding castles and palaces. The event has been attracting hundreds of thousands and wowing locals and visitors for more than half a century. If you want in on a boat, book early. The largest of the displays falls historically falls on the second Saturday of August, but as always, check with local sources for exact dates and details.

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Europe Germany Bonn Family Festivals May
Saxonia International Balloon Fiesta

Saxonia International Balloon Fiesta

Picturesque Liepzig is the venue for Europe's third largest balloon festival, the Saxonia International Balloon Fiesta. For four days at the shank of July each year, more than 100,000 spectators flock to the German city to see balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the sky over Liepzig. There's competitions amongst the balloons — fox hunting, key grab and flying as far as possible — as well balloon rides for the adventurous. There's plenty of programme for those planning to keep their feet on terra firma too, with live music, food and family entertainment.

More Saxonia International Balloon Fiesta info...

Europe Germany Leipzig Ballooning Festivals Family Festivals July
Stuttgart Christmas Markets

Stuttgart Christmas Markets

From late November right up until Christmas Eve, more than 250 traditional wooden stalls, decorated with fir branches and baubles, take over Stuttgart's inner city (Marktplatz, Schillerplatz and Schlossplatz, as well as Hirschstraße and Kirchstraße) forming one of Europe's largest and most visited Christmas Markets. Take in the the scent of burnt almonds and roast chestnuts as you browse the stalls offering all manner of gifts, from Christmas tree decorations through toys and woodcrafts to lambskin slippers, hats, candles and puppets. When hunger strikes sample a grilled Swabian sausage or two and wash them down with a little local mulled wine. Children will enjoy a visit to Santa's Grotto on Schlossplatz. The miniature railway drawn by a real steam locomotive which passes through the snowscape is a hit with children of all ages.

More Stuttgart Christmas Markets info...

Europe Germany Stuttgart Christmas Markets Christmas December
Stuttgart Wine Festival

Stuttgart Wine Festival

According to questionable sources, there have been times in Stuttgart's history when the townsfolk have had more wine available for consumption than water. To help turn the tide back water's way, swing into the Swabian way of life and down a glass or two of the local product at the annual Stuttgart Wine Festival. Over 12 days in late August and early September, visitors to the festival can sample from a variety of 500 regional wines on offer from 120 stalls. Enjoy a lunch of traditional Swabian dishes such as maultaschen (ravioli), kässpätzle (cheese noodles) and ofaschlupfer (sweat bread pudding). Prost!

More Stuttgart Wine Festival info...

Europe Germany Stuttgart Wine Festivals August
Summerjam

Summerjam

Join a mass of Rastafarians and like-minded souls as they share their love for the reggae at Cologne's annual, Summerjam. For three days in July the Fühlinger comes to life in a sea of yellow, red and green as 30,000 reggae fans flock to Cologne to camp under the stars and enjoy some of Reggae's biggest names. Past artists have included Jimmy Cliff, Shaggy, Beenie Man and Sean Paul.

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Europe Germany Cologne Reggae Festivals July
Tübingen Duck Race

Tübingen Duck Race

Ladies and gentlemen, start your ducks! Up to 7,000 ducks make a break for it each October in the annual Tubingen Duck Race. Not ducks of the feathered variety you must understand, rather plastic and yellow — of the bath-tub species. Thousands line the course which runs from Alleenbrucke to the finishing line at Neckarbrucke bridge. The flag drops at 2 pm but those looking to rent a duck need to be registered and at the starting line by 1 pm. Actors entertain the crowds and kids can make badges or participate in mini bungee jumping.

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Europe Germany Tübingen Bizarre Festivals October
Transmediale

Transmediale

Berlin's Transmediale at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, features a diverse programme of media art and digital culture. For five days each January, Transmediale presents a range of exhibitions, conferences, film and video programmes, live performances and publications concentrating on works that explore our complex relation to technology. Club Transmediale (CTM) is dedicated to contemporary electronic, digital and experimental music.

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Europe Germany Berlin New Media Festivals Art Festivals January
Wacken Open Air

Wacken Open Air

The village of Wacken may be but a dot on the map of the Northern German region of Schleswig-Holstein but ask any metal-head from Reykjavik to Christchurch and they'll pinpoint that sucker for you. Over four days each August the tiny village plays host to Wacken Open Air — the world's largest hard rock and heavy metal gathering, where more than 150 acts rock six stages and play to exuberant crowds in excess of 80,000. Renowned for its connected vibe, for attracting metal-heads from all over the world and for the buy-in from all 2,000 Wacken locals, W:O:A's reputation as metal's must-attend fest is enhanced year on year. Wacken sells out for the following year within 48 hours of the curtain coming down on the closing act from this year — a testament to that reputation. So book mega-early, pack your black and make your way to Wacken next August for the metal blowout of a lifetime.

More Wacken Open Air info...

Europe Germany Wacken Heavy Metal Festivals Punk Festivals Rock Festivals August

Germany Festivals on the Map