Not many people associate Germany with big blowout parties — in fact the first thing that pops into my mind is high-tech assembly lines — but Germany does indeed hold some of the world’s largest festivities… and every year at that.
So if you are planning a trip to the home of bratwurst, strudel, and sauerkraut you better have a pretty strong understanding of the festivities before you visit. You don’t want to end up visiting a car manufacturer now do you? Here are our top 4:
German’s are renowned for having no sense of humour, but once a year they let it all their diligence, reliability, and political correctness go and revel in a series of country wide carnivals.
The season starts as early as January, but the official week begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and continues for seven days.
The celebrations kick off with the “Women’s Carnival” where ladies are allowed to kiss any man they like after cutting off his tie – which is why you’ll find many men loitering the streets with a pocket full of ties. The main parades see thousands of Germans flocking to the streets to watch the spectacle of elaborate floats depicting caricatured celebrities and politicians. Then on Shrove Tuesday costume balls are held across Germany and the festivities wind down on Ash Wednesday (when presumably most of the German nation has hangovers).
The largest and most traditional carnival festivities take place in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Münster, Aachen, and Mainz.
Oktoberfest is a 16 day festival celebrating beer, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending. It takes place in Munich and runs from late September into the first weekend of October. The festival has been running every year since 1810 and is of course an important part of Bavarian culture.
Only beer brewed within the city limits can be served at Oktoberfest and it must be at least 6%. Many people forget that the beer is so strong and each year there is a temporary aid station manned by hundreds of volunteers. Mostly young people pass out, due to drunkenness, and are loving called “Bierleichen” (or beer corpses to me and you).
International Film Festival in Berlin
The Berlin International Film Festival is one of the world’s leading cinema events and it is certainly the largest publically attended one. Up to 400 films are shown each year and a kaleidoscope of films are shown to represent the best the world has to offer – but only twenty vie for the Golden and Silver Bear awards. The festival is always frequented by A-list celebrities and directors alike, and 4200 journalists cover the event for nations around the world. We think tickets might cost a little more than your average cinema visit, though.
Rhine In Flames Festival
The Rhein in Flammen is the name of five distinct fireworks displays that light up the river Rhine in Germany each year. On five different dates, illuminated ships sail wide-eyed passengers to watch the displays from various locations on the river. The event showcases Germany’s medieval scenery at its best and the towering mountains act like amplifiers for the breath-taking acoustics. The displays bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year who enjoy the fireworks and the wine festivals that dot along the river banks. The largest event takes place on the Koblenz each year, on the second Saturday in August, but each one is spectacular in its own right.
So there you have it: Four of Germany’s Best Festivals – a lot more spectacular than a trip around the BMW assembly line I think you’ll agree. Make sure to get your Euros before you go. If you don’t, though, there’ll undoubtedly be a several Travelex branches for you to convert your money. Ultimately, though, Germany is a wonderful place to visit even without the festivities; you will always find a juicy bratwurst, a pint of beer, and some oddly dressed German and we think it’s great. If you’ve been to Germany yourself, or to any of these events, then we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Sign off now.