10 Best Festivals in Germany

Germany’s Most Popular Festivals

    Festivals in Germany are known to be among the loudest and largest in the world, with millions banding together to celebrate the country’s culture, beer, and food. During annual holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the cities come alive with vibrant markets, street parades, and beautiful costumes all day long.

    Aside from the iconic beer festival that is Oktoberfest, Germany is also known for classical music and films. The town of Bonn celebrates renowned composer Beethoven with a series of symphony concerts, exhibitions, and workshops, while Berlin hosts an international film festival with a star-studded line-up of filmmakers, actors, and producers from all over the world. And they’re not even the biggest of Germany’s most popular festivals!

    1

    Oktoberfest in Munich

    September - early October: Experience the ultimate celebration of Bavarian beer, culture, and music

    Germany’s most iconic Volkfest, Oktoberfest attracts millions of people to the city to enjoy Bavarian beer and food, live bands, and parades. This 3-week-long festivity kicks off with a vibrant parade of carriages, floats, and people in traditional costumes, before congregating at the Theresienwiese fairground. You can find hundreds of large tents with gallons of beers provided by renowned Munich breweries, with traditional Bavarian music blaring out of massive speakers throughout the day. Fairground rides such as Ferris wheels, miniature trains, and merry-go-rounds offer hours of fun for visitors too young to drink.

    Location: Theresienwiese, Bavariaring, 80336 München, Germany

    Open: September - early October: Daily from 11am to midnight (hours may vary)

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    2

    Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg

    September: Catch over 350 live concerts at Hamburg’s largest music festival

    Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival gives music fans a chance to enjoy a variety of genres and up-and-coming artists from across the world. Over the course of 4 days in September, there are over 350 music concerts, art exhibitions, conferences, and film screenings held in and around St. Pauli district. Venues range from underground clubs and bars to grand buildings such as Imperial Theatre, Schulmuseum and St. Pauli Cathedral.

    Location: Reeperbahn, St. Pauli, Hamburg, Germany

    Open: 19th – 22nd September: Daily from 11am to midnight (hours may vary)

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    photo by Melanie Richter (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Karneval in Cologne

    February: Dress up in wacky costumes during one of Germany’s most colourful festivals

    Karneval in Cologne feels like a massive costume party that lasts for about 6 days in the month of February, from Thursday to Tuesday. The 1st day kicks off with a lively street parade in the morning, with crowds dressed up in wacky costumes and loud music blaring from just about every pub and brewery in the city. Expect lots of traditional music, dance and live performances during the day, followed with more parties and street shows well into the night.

    Location: Heumarkt, Cologne, Germany

    Open: 8th February - 13th February from 11.11am to midnight (dates and hours may vary)

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    photo by Marco Verch (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart

    Late-September – mid-October: Enjoy fairground rides and colourful parades at this family-friendly festival

    Cannstatter Volksfest kicks off with a spectacular street parade, with horse-drawn brewery wagons, locals dressed in traditional costumes, and marching bands. Similar to Oktoberfest, this family-friendly festival lasts for about 3 weeks, starting from late-September. Arguably one of Stuttgart’s most popular festivals, its many fairground attractions include haunted houses, roller coasters, and Ferris wheels of various shapes and sizes. You can also find a variety of food stalls and beer tents at Cannstatter Volksfest, where you can enjoy delicious local fare, German beers, and wines throughout your visit.

    Location: Cannstatter Wasen Stuttgart, Mercedesstraße, 70372 Stuttgart, Germany

    Open: Late-September – Mid-October: Daily from 11am to midnight (hours may vary)

    Phone: +49 (0)711 9554 3300

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    5

    Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim

    1st & 3rd weekend of September: Enjoy German sausages and wines from the largest wine barrel in the world

    Every 1st and 3rd weekend of September, Wurstmarkt sees over 500,000 people celebrating 2 of Germany’s most popular exports – wine and wurst (sausage). This folk festival dates back to the 12th century, when farmers and wineries of Bad Dürkheim sold their produce for pilgrims heading up to Michaelskapelle (St. Michael’s Chapel). Today, it’s a fair-like event with hundreds of food stalls, carnival rides, fireworks displays, and wine halls. One of the best spots to celebrate Wurstmarkt is at Durkheimer Riesenfass, which is a gigantic wine barrel with an onsite restaurant.

    Location: Brühlwiesen, 67098 Bad Dürkheim, Germany

    Open: 1st & 3rd weekend of September: Saturday – Sunday from 10am to 1am

    Phone: +49 (0)6322 935 140

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    6

    Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin

    Mid-February: Meet your favourite celebrities at this renowned film festival

    A festival for dedicated cinephiles, Berlinale showcases over 400 films of various genres and lengths. One of the largest international film festivals in the world, it has been held in Berlin since 1978. More than 10,000 professionals from 115 countries gather at European Film Market (EFM) for a variety of programmes, workshops, and premieres over the course of 10 days. You may even be able to catch sight of your favourite celebrities at Berlinale. Tickets to watch a film cost about €12 – a steal compared to other film festivals such as Sundance and Cannes.

    Location: European Film Market, Potsdamer Straße 5, 10785 Berlin, Germany

    Open: Mid-February

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    photo by Tuluqaruk (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Weihnachtsmarkt in Berlin

    24th November – 24th December: Stock up on gingerbread and mulled wine at these Christmas markets

    If you’re in Berlin during wintertime, you can find not 1, but more than 20 Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) set up in historical buildings and city squares. About a month before Christmas, crowds of locals and tourists brave the cold to enjoy a variety of activities and seasonal specialities at these vibrant markets. You can find plenty of quaint wooden stalls selling winter clothing, trees, decorations, handicrafts, toys, and nativity figures. Charlottenburg Castle, KulturBrauerei, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and Gendarmenmarkt have some of the largest Christmas markets in Berlin.

    Location: Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin, Germany

    Open: 24th November – 24th December from 11am to 10pm (hours may vary)

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    8

    Rhein in Flammen in Koblenz

    May – September: See fireworks displays from a boat on Rhine Rive

    Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames) is a series of spectacular firework displays and ship parades on the banks of Rhine. The festival takes place from May to September every year, with about 75 illuminated ships sailing down the Rhine. In the evening, expect spectacular fireworks displays and spectators enjoying the view from dry land. Rhein in Flammen in May sees music concerts, food and wine events being hosted at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and the Deutsches Eck.

    Location: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, 56077 Koblenz, Germany

    Open: May - September 11am to midnight (hours may vary)

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    9

    Beethovenfest in Bonn

    31st August – 23rd September: Enjoy classical music at Beethoven’s former home

    Beethovenfest attracts fans of classical music to the town of Bonn with talented orchestras, classical dances, workshops, and food fairs. This event dates back to 1845 to celebrate the music of renowned composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. The first 3 weeks of September sees about 60 concerts at more than 20 venues throughout the composer’s birthplace. Some of the most popular places to enjoy Beethovenfest include Beethovenhaus, Stadtmuseum Siegburg, and St. Evergislus Cathedral.

    Location: Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Bonngasse 20, 53111 Bonn, Germany

    Open: 31st August – 23rd September (dates and hours may vary)

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    10

    Festival-Mediaval in Selb

    September: Learn dances from the Middle Age at this folk festival

    Festival-Mediaval in Selb features folk music, fire shows, and theatres dedicated to medieval times in Germany. The 4-day event takes place at Goldberg State Park in September, drawing crowds dressed up in traditional costumes. Tents are available at the festival grounds if you plan on staying for more than 1 day. The festival also hosts numerous workshops on traditions from the Middle Age, Renaissance, and early Baroque periods. From fencing and archery to bagpiping and belly-dancing, there’s something for everyone at Festival-Mediaval.

    Location: Wunsiedler Straße, 95100 Selb, Germany

    Open: 4 days in early September from 10am to midnight (dates and hours may vary)

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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