Everyone knows about Oktoberfest, held in Munich from late September to early October. However, Germany can offer its tourists a long range of less promoted, but not less intriguing German festivals in fall. Explore the beautiful smells, colours, and events that make Germany and its festivals so spectacular during the fall season.
1. Unity Day, October 3
Unit Day is something like Germany’s Fourth of July. It commemorates the reunification of East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Despite there being official celebrations in almost every German city, there’s no celebration quite like the one in Berlin. This city acutely felt the effects of the wall, so this makes sense.
The city of Berlin commemorates this anniversary every year with a huge city-wide festival extravaganza. Large fairgrounds are erected and Brandenburg Gate holds huge open-air concerts. A parade marches through downtown Berlin, and along the remains of the Berlin Wall are art and history exhibits.
In Berlin, the memory of the Wall and the separation are still relatively fresh, so the festival in Berlin is especially special to them. Being in Berlin for this commemorative day means there will be no shortage of things to do and see during the festival, and out in the city itself. Of all the German festivals, this one may be the most gut wrenching.
2. Festival-Mediaval, September
This German festival is a living history and re-enactment festival. The event, held in Selb, includes performances of medieval music, fire shows, and roaming performers. It also features theatre groups and a medieval market. Experience medieval foods, try your hand at archery, and watch a roaming witch performance.
Also offered at the festival are numerous workshops. Learn about metalworking, craftsman wares, dancing, and early Renaissance musical instruments. Other fun festivities such as jousting and medieval music and games can be enjoyed. The festival hosts bands and musicians from all over the world and delight audiences of all ages with their medieval and Renaissance-inspired music. At the end of the festival, there is a medieval music concert at the Christuskirche.
The first Festival-Mediaval took place in 2008, with 7,000 visitors. The location on the somewhat unsettled German-Czech border was chosen deliberately. It was a deliberate attempt to bring these people closer together through fun, food, and music. This is certainly one of the German festivals you don’t want to miss.
3. Beethovenfest in Bonn, September
The birthplace of famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven, the city of Bonn pays tribute to their famous ancestor each year with a festival. The German festival includes concerts, workshops, and events in the “Beethovenhalle” concert hall. Visitors from all over Germany and the world come to Bonn to the festivities, and to hear several internationally acclaimed guest orchestras and performers.
The goal of the festival is to create ties between the music of the past, present, and future. More than just celebrating the birth and works of Beethoven, it is to ignite passion for music. While you’re in Bonn for the festival, you can visit the house he was born in, and explore the picturesque town and countryside that inspired his works. The festival prides itself for its internationality, innovation, relevance, and authenticity.
4. Frankfurt Book Fair, October
Dating all the way back to the 15th century, when Johannes Gutenberg first invented movable type near Frankfurt, the Frankfurt Book fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books. Though the fair (called “Frankfurter Buchmesse”) is primarily for people in the book industry, there are some more mainstream-accessible events, such as the award for oddest book title of the year.
The event itself takes place at the Frankfurter Messe, a building complex with nearly four million square feet of combines indoor exhibit space. Typically, the fair hosts more than 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries all over the world, drawing over 300,000 visitors. Additionally, more than 10,000 journalists cover the event. On the last two days of the fair, they open the doors to the general public. The fair is traditionally a critical event for making book-related business deals, such as movie rights, tv rights, foreign editions, video game adaptations, etc. In Germany, it is one of the most critical German festivals
5. St Martin’s Day, November 11
Martin of Tours began his life as a Roman soldier and ended up a monk. St. Martin’s Day is his feast day. His most famous deed is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, saving that beggar’s life. St. Martin dreamed that night that Jesus was the beggar he helped.
During the celebration, held around many areas of German, children go from house to house as darkness falls with paper lanterns and sing songs about St. Martin in return for treats. The procession often ends with a bonfire. Many places also hold public festivals to celebrate St. Martin, including reenactments of the saint’s donation of his cloak, and serving the traditional dish of roast goose (“Martinsgans”), as well as the traditional Weckmann baked goods.
The holiday is traditional celebrated by small towns and youth, but adults like it too for the beauty of the lanterns and the lively songs. It’s definitely one of the German festivals you don’t want to miss.
6. Wine Festival and Wurstmarkt, September
Held in the picturesque town of Bad Dürkheim, this fair is officially called “Wurstmarkt”, but it is famous for its celebration of decadent local wines. Germany’s second-largest wine growing region of Rhineland Palatinate is home to this festival, and prides itself on being the world’s biggest wine festival. The German festival has been celebrated every September for nearly 600 years.
Hosting over 600,000 people during its duration, the festival is great for even those who can’t drink. The food there is divine, so it’s one of the best German festivals to experience. The food focus is certainly on sausages, but there is a great variety of authentic foods there to try.
Several activities are available as well. Kids can play on merry-go-rounds, and adults can go for aromatherapy sessions, shiatsu massages, shooting stands, arcades, concerts, and performances – all the makings of an awesome fair experience. Every wine at the festival was made right in Bad Dürkheim. While you’re there for the festival, be sure to visit the Michaelskapelle chapel, right above the market.
7. Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, September-November
Held every fall just outside of Stuttgart, this is the world’s largest pumpkin festival. Over 450,000 pumpkins are on display on the grounds of the amazing Schloss Ludwigsburg. It features unbelievable pumpkin displays, and evens such as food made from all things pumpkin and a pumpkin boat race. As a bonus, the festival takes place at a castle.
If you think this festival is just for kids, you are wrong. There is so much for an adult to enjoy here. The festival features crazy pumpkin art. Not paintings of pumpkins; more like statues made from pumpkins. You can also shop for anything pumpkin. Buy normal pumpkins, but also try the pumpkin pasta, pumpkin beer, pumpkin spiced coffee, or pumpkin sparkling wine. There’s also great live music.
Of course, the festival features the pumpkin competition. Pumpkins from all around the world compete, and there are over 800 different kinds of pumpkins to choose from. Each festival has a different theme, so there’s plenty of variety in one of the most unique German festivals around.
8. Berlin’s Festival of Lights, October
Witness Berlin’s total transformation into an amazing light art installation. The city’s famous landmarks, monuments, and famous squares receive gorgeous dynamic lighting that will take your breath away. Artists from around the world present their brilliant light art and transform the entire city into a canvas. The first Festival of Lights was held in 2006, and it’s gotten more spectacular every year.
As an added bonus, admission is free. You can take guided tours through the main shows. As well as the art, there are also other events happening during the festival, such as concerts, performances, and workshops, and charity events. You can tour the show several ways: on foot, by boat, by balloon, by carriage, or by bus.
Some of the best places to go for the show are Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, and Berlin’s TV Tower. These huge displays always draw cheers from the crowd. Be sure to book your accommodations well in advance, as nearly two million people come to Berlin during this time.
9. Ertendank, September-October
Ertendank, or Ertendankfest, is basically Germany’s Thanksgiving. It’s an autumn harvest celebration taking place typically in September or October, depending on the region. It has a typical country fair atmosphere, with church services, music, food, dancing, and a parade. Protestant and Catholic churches sponsor the festival in larger cities. A harvest queen is crowned at the end of the procession. Fireworks and a lanterns and torch parade follow the crowning in some cities. The needy benefit from the distribution of the unused food.
While the goose is the traditional holiday bird dish in Germany, some American traditions are starting to take hole, and people are starting to eat turkey instead. Crops, cereals, and fruit are decoratively arranged. Cities and towns celebrate Ertendank regionally throughout the country.
Unlike in the United States, the German Thanksgiving and its activities are primarily church-based. It’s not so much a family holiday as it is a religious one. Dusseldorf-Urdenback holds one of the most famous Ertendank celebrations. Don’t miss this German festival, especially if you’re religious.
10. Lollapalooza Berlin, September
Berlin hosts the German version of the famous Chicago festival, featuring hit acts from all over the world. The festival series is one of the most influential and successful in the world. It’s definitely one German festivals you need to see if you love music. Taking place over two days, the festival features a great mix of local and international acts, from all genres of music. It’s quickly becoming a must-go in the German music scene.
In addition to the music, there are also other things to do at the festival. Kidzapalooza will entertain the young ones while you listen to awesome music, venture to the Lolla Fair for art, circus performers, and hand made art installations.
There is also Aquapalooza, Fashionpalooza, Weingarten (a vineyard oasis), and the Gruner Kiez, where you can learn about sustainability. Definitely do not miss this festival.
Germany as a country holds over 10,000 festivals a year, many of them in the fall. Don’t miss these fun and exciting German festivals. Everything from music festivals, pumpkin festivals, art festivals, and more. No matter what your interest is, there will be something for you to do and see during the fall months in Germany. Hope you have enjoy reading through the German festivals in fall and plan to attend a few really soon.
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May you have an amazing time in Germany!