Germans like their festivals loud and fun. Ranging from wine festivals to film festivals, across both cities and villages, festivals in Germany are very diverse. You may think you know a country inside out, but you have to attend one of its traditional festivals to really understand the country. These festivals carry the culture and identity of Germany, making them unique and unmissable experiences. 

Immerse Yourself In Traditional Celebrations With These Festivals In Germany

1. World’s Largest Folk Festival: Oktoberfest

People celebrating in beer pavilion on Oktoberfest-fest in Munich
People celebrating in beer pavilion on Oktoberfest-fest in Munich

Celebrated in Munich, Oktoberfest is one of the most famous festivals in Germany. Beer enthusiasts from around the country, and the world, gather to celebrate the Bavarian beer festival, along with food and cultural events and performances. A beer lover’s passion for this fermented drink gets amplified on Oktoberfest as Bavaria has the highest-quality beer and several thousand litres of beer flow at the Oktoberfest annually. It is a very scenic setting with vibrant and colourful parades, exciting rides, music, and concerts providing the background to Munich’s best breweries selling beer from tents. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about Oktoberfest

2. Celebrations That Date Back To 190 Years: Karneval, Fasching Or Fastnacht

Celebration of German Karneval, fasching or fastnacht
Rosenmontagszug, Street carnival on Rose Monday in Mainz, Germany

If you enjoy a costume party, then this one is for you. Except that it’s larger than life because this party goes on for six days. When you hear the crowds cheering out aloud, “Kölle Alaaf“(a phrase used since the 16th century as a cheer to rally up the crowds), you know it’s the sign for the party to get started. Celebrated in February, people give into indulgences with kölsch (local beer) and krapfen (doughnuts) being consumed in huge amounts.

Germans have three different words for Carnival, namely Karneval, Fasching or Fastnacht. They each have different traditions and customs depending on the regions where they are celebrated. The more vibrant celebrations happen in Franconia in northern Bavaria. Ladies take charge of men on Carnival Thursday by cutting their ties and giving them a kiss, this pleasantly bizarre activity is actually a part of age-old traditions. Whichever part of Germany you witness this amazing festival, and whatever the different celebrations, customs and traditions may be, it’s sure to be loads of fun.

3. One Of The Biggest Film Festivals In The World: Berlinale 

Berlinale logo, international film festival in Germany
The standing bear, a logo of the Berlin Film festival

Berlinale, or the International Film Festival in Berlin, is one of the most renowned film festivals in Europe. It’s the perfect place to indulge your inner cinephile because Berlinale is known for a showcase of experimental cinema curated from the best in world cinema. After the screenings, the director and the cast of each movie usually sit in for a Q&A session allowing more insider access for those who love films. 

4. The Best Operas, 5 weeks, 70 Events: Munich Opera Festival

Free Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera under the title "Opera for all" as part of the Munich Opera Festival in Germany
Free Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera under the title “Opera for all” as part of the Munich Opera Festival.

For fans of the opera and ballet, the Munich Opera Festival is a month-long event organised through June and July. This festival is one of the oldest of its kind and has been celebrated since 1876. A unique highlight within it is Opera for All, where performances are transmitted live to the audience at Max-Joseph-Platz. 

5. World’s Largest Wine Festival: Wurstmarkt

World’s Largest Wine Festival: Wurstmarkt, Germany

Germans know their alcohol well, and along with their beer they celebrate their best of wine too. The world’s largest wine festival takes place in September at Bad Dürkheim. Wurst market holds the largest wine barrel called Dürkheimer Riesenfass that can hold 44 million gallons of wine. Celebrated since approximately 600 ago, this area is believed to be the place of ancient wineries where Romans cultivated a variety of grapes 2,000 years ago.

6. Germany’s Oldest Festival Tradition: Bayreuth Festival

Bayreuth Wagner Festival Theatre, Germany
Bayreuth Wagner Festival Theatre

The Bavarian town of Bayreuth celebrates the works of the German composer Richard Wagner. Also called the Richard Wagner Festival, it is the largest one of its kind in the world. Festspielhaus, one of the opera houses designed by Wagner himself, is the venue where Wagner’s best operas are performed. Bayreuth festival is an annual musical festival attracting Wagner enthusiasts.

7. Sky Ablaze In Fireworks While 75 Ships Set Sail: Rhine In Flammen

Rhine in Flammen or Rhine in flames, festival in Germany
Beautiful fireworks display at Rhine in Flammen in Koblenz

Translating to ‘Rhine in flames’, the festival is filled with fireworks and parades of ships on the river Rhine. It’s one of the brightest festivals in Germany. Illuminated ships sail down the river through the summer. Starting from May and extending to September, the event takes place at Bonn, Rüdesheim – Bingen, Koblenz, Oberwesel, and St Goar. The firework displays are enjoyed with wine, concerts, and amazing food on the banks of the river.

8. World’s Largest Book Fair: Frankfurt Book Fair

Frankfurt Book fair
Public day for Frankfurt Book fair

There’s good news for someone who feels better at the mere sight of a book – the Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest and oldest book event. The fair has been attracting the book publishing industry and international visitors for more than 500 years now. Frankfurter Buchmesse or Frankfurt Book Fair happens in October every year. The fair began in 1454 when Frankfurt emerged as the capital of the European publishing industry. Now, it stands as a landmark event for both book lovers and sellers. The festival has a theme every year. Last year, in 2019, the theme was a focus on Norwegian literature.

A Global And Local Nation

For those looking for an authentic local experience in the places they visit, Germany ticks all the right boxes. Their festivals are strongly rooted in culture and tradition. Festivals that were first celebrated in the 19th century are still celebrated with pomp and show— an example of how much they are valued and honoured. Most of the festivals mentioned above had started off as a small local event but grew exponentially to become the biggest in the world. The locals participate in the festivities with much vigour, and invite tourist participation too, making them both inclusive and diverse. All kinds of travellers will be satisfied with Germany—whether you are a beer lover or wine aficionado, someone who loves headbanging in a concert or enjoy operas and Western classical orchestras. 

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