Top Events

Oktoberfest September

Christmas Markets December

Karneval/Fasching February

Berlin Film Festival February

Kieler Woche June

January

Except in the ski resorts, the Germans have the country pretty much to themselves this month. Short and cold days make this a good time to make in-depth explorations of museums and churches.

Mountain Madness

Grab your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes in resorts that range from glam (Garmisch-Partenkirchen) to family-friendly (Bavarian Forest). No matter whether you're a black diamond daredevil or Sesame Street novice, there's a piste for you.

February

It's not as sweltering as Rio, but the German Carnival is still a good excuse for a party. Ski resorts are busiest thanks to school holidays; make reservations.

Berlin Film Festival

Stars, directors and critics sashay down the red carpet for two weeks of screenings and glamour parties at the Berlinale, one of Europe's most prestigious celluloid festivals.

Karneval (Fasching)

The pre-Lenten season is celebrated with costumed street partying, parades, satirical shows and general revelry. The biggest parties are along the Rhine in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Mainz, but the Black Forest, Munich and samba-crazy Bremen also have their own traditions.

March

Days start getting longer and the first inkling of spring is in the air. Fresh herring hits the menus, especially along the coastal regions, and dishes prepared with Bärlauch (wild garlic) are all the rage.

Cebit

Geeks, suits and the merely tech-curious all converge en masse on Hanover's fairground for the world's largest digital trade fair.

April

Come April, there's no escaping the Easter Bunny in Germany. Meanwhile, nothing epitomises the arrival of spring more than the first crop of white asparagus. Germans go nuts for it.

Maifest

Villagers celebrate the end of winter on 30 April by chopping down a tree for a maypole (Maibaum), painting, carving and decorating it, and staging a merry revelry with traditional costumes, singing and dancing.

Walpurgisnacht

The pagan Witches’ Sabbath festival on 30 April sees Harz villages roaring to life as young and old dress up as witches and warlocks and parade through the streets singing and dancing.

May

One of the loveliest months, often surprisingly warm and sunny, perfect for ringing in beer garden season. Plenty of public holidays, which Germans turn into extended weekends or miniholidays, meaning busy roads and lodging shortages.

Labour Day

Some cities host political demonstrations for workers' rights on May 1, a public holiday in Germany. In Berlin, protests have taken on a violent nature in the past, although now it's mostly a big street fair.

Hafengeburtstag

Hamburg lets its hair down in early May at this raucous three-day harbourside festival with a fun fair, music and merriment.

Karnival der Kulturen

Hundreds of thousands of revellers celebrate Berlin's multicultural tapestry with parties, exotic nosh and a fun parade of flamboyantly dressed dancers, DJs, artists and musicians shimmying through the streets of Kreuzberg.

Muttertag

Mothers are honoured on the second Sunday of May, much to the delight of florists, sweet shops and greeting-card companies. Make restaurant reservations far in advance.

International Händel Festival

Göttingen rocks with baroque at its International Händel Festival in mid-May, with a formidable line-up of opera, oratorios and concerts.

Wave-Gotik-Treffen

Thousands of Goths paint the town black as they descend upon Leipzig during the long Whitsuntide/Pentecost weekend, in what is billed as the world’s largest Goth gathering.

Stocherkahnrennen

Tübingen's traditional punting boat race pits rivalling student fraternities against each other in a hilarious and wacky costumed spectacle on the Neckar River.

Vatertag

Father’s Day, now also known as Männertag (Men’s Day), is essentially an excuse for men to get liquored up with the blessing of the missus. It’s always on Ascension Day.

June

Germany's festival pace quickens, while gourmets can rejoice in the bounty of fresh, local produce in the markets. Life moves outdoors as the summer solstice means the sun doesn't set until around 9.30pm.

Africa-Festival

Europe’s largest festival of African music and culture attracts an estimated 100,000 people to Würzburg with concerts, foods and crafts.

Bachfest

This nine-day music festival in Leipzig celebrates not only the work of Johann Sebastian Bach but also of other major composers.

Christopher Street Day

No matter your sexual persuasion, come out and paint the town pink at major gay-pride celebrations in Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.

Kieler Woche

Around half a million salty types flock to the Baltic Sea each summer when Kiel hosts the world's biggest boat party, with hundreds of regattas, ship parades, historical vessels and nonstop week-long partying.

July

School's out for the summer and peak travelling season begins. Pre-book accommodation whether you're headed to the mountains or the coast. Swimming is now possible in lakes, rivers, and the Baltic and North seas.

Samba Festival

This orgy of song and dance in Coburg attracts around 100 bands and 3000 performers from a dozen nations, and up to 200,000 visitors.

Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival

Leading international musicians and promising young artists perform during this festival, in castles, churches, warehouses and animal barns throughout Germany’s northernmost state. Held from mid-July until August.

Schlagermove

Hamburg's St Pauli quarter reverberates with 1970s disco-pop fun and fashion at this flamboyant street parade reaching from the port area to the Reeperbahn.

August

August tends to be Germany's hottest month but days are often cooled by afternoon thunderstorms. It's the season for Pfifferlinge (chanterelle mushrooms) and fresh berries, which you can pick in the forests.

Stuttgarter Sommerfest

More than half a million people come out to Stuttgart's Schlossplatz and Eckensee Lake for this chic four-day festival with open-air concerts, entertainment and culinary treats.

Kinderzeche

Dinkelsbühl, on the Romantic Road, hosts this 10-day festival featuring children performing in historical re-enactments, along with a pageant and the usual merriment.

Shooting Festivals

More than a million Germans (mostly men) belong to shooting clubs and show off their skills at marksmen’s festivals. The biggest one is in Hanover; the oldest, in Düsseldorf.

Wagner Festival

German high society descends upon Bayreuth to practise the art of listening at epic productions of Wagner operas staged in a custom-built festival hall. Mere mortals must hope to score tickets via a lottery system.

Wine Festivals

Grapes ripen to a plump sweetness, and the wine festival season starts, with tastings, folkloric parades, fireworks and the election of local and regional wine queens. The Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt is one of the biggest and most famous of these festivals.

MS Dockville

This happening music festival hits the south bank of the Elbe in Hamburg in mid-August, with established and up-and-coming musicians in the mix.

Museumsuferfest

Some 2.5 million culture vultures descend upon Frankfurt's Museum Embankment in late August to nose around museums, shop for global crafts and enjoy concerts and dance performances along the Main River.

September

Often sunny but not too hot. The main travel season is over but September is busy thanks to lots of wine and autumn festivals. Trees may start changing colour towards the end of the month.

Berlin Marathon

Sweat it out with more than 40,000 runners or just cheer 'em on during Germany's biggest street race, which has seen nine world records set since 1977.

Erntedankfest

Rural German towns celebrate the annual harvest with decorated church altars, Erntedankzug (processions) and villagers dressed up in folkloric garments.

Oktoberfest

Dust off your Dirndl or squeeze into a strapping pair of Lederhosen for Munich’s legendary beer-swilling, stein-swinging party. There's no beer fest bigger than this one.

Cannstatter Volksfest

Stuttgart’s answer to Oktoberfest, this beer-guzzling bash, held over three consecutive weekends, lifts spirits with oompah bands, carnival rides and fireworks.

Reeperbahnfestival

Live music of every imaginable genre cranks up at St Pauli's venues – from nightclubs to churches – at Hamburg's biggest bash.

October

Trade-fair season kicks into high gear, affecting lodging prices and availability in cities including Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg. Tourist offices, museums and attractions start keeping shorter hours. Some close for the winter.

Frankfurt Book Fair

Bookworms invade Frankfurt for the world’s largest book fair, held over five days and featuring 7300 exhibitors from more than a hundred countries.

St Martinstag

This festival (10–11 November) honours the 4th-century St Martin, known for his humility and generosity, with a lantern procession and re-enactment of the famous scene where he cut his coat in half to share with a beggar. It's followed by a stuffed roast-goose feast.

November

This can be a dreary month mainly spent indoors. However, queues at tourist sights are short and theatre, concert, opera and other cultural events are plentiful. Bring warm clothes and rain gear.

December

Cold, sun-deprived days are brightened by Advent, four weeks of festivities preceding Christmas celebrated with enchanting markets, illuminated streets, Advent calendars, candle-festooned wreaths, home-baked cookies and more. Ski resorts usually get their first snow dusting.

Christmas Markets

Mulled wine, spicy gingerbread cookies, shimmering ornaments – these and lots more are typical features of German Christmas markets, held from late November until late December. Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is especially famous.

Nikolaustag

On the eve of 5 December, German children put their boots outside the door hoping that St Nick will fill them with sweets and small toys overnight. Ill-behaved children, though, may find only a prickly rod left behind by St Nick’s helper, Knecht Ruprecht.

Silvester

New Year’s Eve is called 'Silvester' in honour of the 4th-century pope under whom the Romans adopted Christianity as their official religion. The new year is greeted with fireworks launched by thousands of amateur pyromaniacs.