The Berlinale, International Film Festival, is an annual extravagant event with stars and starlets, art and commerce, glitz and glamour.
Karneval (Fasching or Fastnet) is a pagan-rooted pre-Lent celebrations in the Rhineland and Bavaria seven weeks before Easter. Warm-up events throughout late January climax in late February or early March with costumed parades. Cologne has the most celebrated Karneval, followed by Düsseldorf and Mainz, or Munich’s jolly Fasching. Black Forest events are more traditional.
Walpurgisnacht is a famous celebration of the witches’ sabbath with costumed parades and music all over the Harz area on April 30.
Hafengeburtstag in Hamburg in May is the world’s largest harbour festival with tall ships and flotilla parades.
Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) is a celebration of ethnic diversity in Berlin, which takes place at the last weekend of May.
Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames) is the name of five firework displays along the Rhine from Bonn to Bingen. On the five different dates, brightly illuminated ships sail down the river in an evening convoy for their passengers to see the magnificent fireworks along the river banks. The fireworks are started when the ships arrive. The biggest spectacular takes place in Koblenz on the second Saturday in August. The Bonn event is hosted at the Rheinauen Park on the first Saturday in May.
Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig is an annual world festival for gothic music and arts. Bands and artists from various backgrounds perform at several venues throughout the city over 4 days on Whitsuntide. The festival also features fairs with medieval and gothic merchandise.
Schützenfest, or Marksmen festival, in Hannover is a traditional fair featuring a target shooting competition in early July.
Bayreuth Festspiele is a prestigious Wagnerian opera spectacular, which takes place in Bayreuth in late July and August.
Weinfest is a traditional celebration of the annual grape harvest in Rhine–Mosel area from late August to September. Three of the best festivals are in Rudesheim, Mainz and Dürkheimer.
Gäubodenfest in Straubing is a hugely popular Bavarian celebration with folk displays, beer, music, and funfairs.
Oktoberfest in Munich is perhaps the most epic beer carousal on the planet. From the end of September to early October, Munich draws legions of foreign drinkers to the tents from traditional German breweries.
A less touristy alternative to the Oktoberfest is Cannstatter Volksfest, which takes place in Stuttgart from late September to October. The world’s second-largest beer festival also features oompah bands in traditional costumes.
In Germany, from city to village, wherever there are people, there will usually be an event, whether a boisterous festival for thousands or just a summer fair. Most are staged from May to August, in the town centre crammed with stalls and stages, with overflowing food and beer. As you stroll past the arts and crafts stands or sample the regional food and drink, you’ll see that traditions and customs are very much alive and well in Germany.