After living in Germany for several years, I knew that each year I had numerous local festivals to look forward to. These Germans know how to organise a festival – after all, Germany is the home of Oktoberfest! And that means that every year across the country there is a huge range of weird and wonderful festivals, no matter what your interests, and even some festivals that you could never imagine. Here are ten German festivals to whet your appetite.
The Landshut Wedding festival in Bavaria is centred on a massive historical pageant, celebrating the medieval era. Every four years a couple of thousand people dress up to recreate the wedding between Hedwig and George from 1475 and to go with the pageant there are jousting bouts and some impressive feasting.
Landshut Wedding by estrangelo_edessa
What would a list of German festivals be without a wine festival? However, this one’s a real trick because the name Wurstmarkt means “sausage market” – and yes, you’ll find sausages in abundance but the focus is actual on some great German wines. It takes place in Bad Dürkheim every September and is one of the largest wine festivals in the entire world, and one of the oldest too, running for nearly 600 years.
Enjoying Wurstmarkt by gromgull
Grabenstetten Kite Festival
Head to Germany in April and hope for wind – then the Grabenstetten Kite Festival will be at its peak. It’s a very social festival where everyone with any kind of kite is welcome to take part and after a day of kite flying there are fireworks to celebrate the occasion.
Drachenfest – Kite festival by no
Bavarian Finger Wrestling Championships
Apparently they’re not only drinking beer in Bavaria: they’re also practising some finger wrestling! The Finger Wrestling Championships take place in Ohlstadt and the competitors get separated into weight categories, just like in real wrestling.
Finger wrestling (Fingerhakeln) by Wikicommons
Heidelberg Castle Festival
One of my favourite spots in Germany is Heidelberg and I’d love someday to attend some events at the Heidelberg Castle Festival. It’s held in June and features music and theatre performances, with the music mostly being classical and opera. Various parts of the castle and its ruins are used as venues.
Heidelberg Castley by mattwyn
Lübeck Dragonboat Festival
In northern Germany, the Lübeck Dragonboat Festival is actually one of the largest dragonboat festivals in the world. It takes place in August (fortunately, so if you fall in it won’t be too freezing) and it recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Limburg Whisky Festival
Beer, wine and whisky – German has it all. The Limburg Whisky Festival takes place in April each year and a very reasonable entry price includes numerous tastings. They focus (curiously) on Scotch single malt – one of the largest such festivals in the world.
Whisky Fair Limburg by rund_um_whisky
Tübingen Duck Race
Who doesn’t enjoy a good duck race? In Tübingen they get the plastic yellow ducks out every October and race them down the Neckar River and there are a whole swag of prizes if your duck is amongst the winners. Apparently last race there were around 6,000 ducks swimming!
Ducks in Tübingen by to.wi
In Markgröningen, the Schäferlauf (shepherd run) Festival takes place every August. It has historical roots back as far as 1651 but over the years has, of course, evolved from a celebration just for shepherds into a festival for everyone around, with all kinds of traditional cultural activities and music to enjoy.
Schäferlauf in 1900 by Wikicommons
Brot und Spiele Festival
In one of Germany’s oldest cities, Trier, the Brot und Spiele (Bread and Games) festival takes place in late summer, and it is the largest Roman festival in Germany. There are all kinds of Roman-related events including performances of gladiator shows in the amphitheatre, with a different main play featuring each year.