Events and Street Festivals
Do you think Germans spend all their time at work? Not quite. In FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) people love being outside and filling the streets with life. The region celebrates all year round with indoor and open-air concerts, festivals, films, children’s theatre performances, markets, sports events and much, much more. In the summer in particular, there is always something going on at the weekends.
Fairs (Volksfeste) are popular and widespread. They take place everywhere, from small villages to large cities. Typical for the region is the so-called Kerb, Kirmes or Kirchweih, depending on where you live in FRM. These are local fairs which take place once a year at the weekend, and where the community meets up and celebrates together. There are small rides and games for children, as well as food and a marquee where you can buy drinks. These fairs often open with a special tradition, for example, where the community puts up a tree with decorations. You can find your nearest Kerb/Kirmes/Kirchweih by looking at the website of your local town or municipality.
In addition, FrankfurtRheinMain also hosts festivals that are important internationally.
The biggest festival of the region is the Museumsuferfest in Frankfurt, the Museum Embankment Festival. It takes place every year on the last weekend of August along the banks of the River Main. Over the course of three days, 23 museums put on a spectacular programme on stages set up on each side of the river. During this time all of the museums in the area stay open far into the night.
The Schlossgrabenfest in Darmstadt is not only the largest music festival in Hessen, but also one of the largest free open-air events in Germany. It takes place every year on the last weekend in May and offers four days of live music from many different genres, including some well-known artists.
Germany’s biggest annual street festival takes place in Wiesbaden on the second weekend in June. The Theatrium, better known as Wilhelmstraßenfest, offers culinary specialities from all over the world, as well as a lot of music, performances, rides and a craft fair.
The Rheingau Musik Festival is one of the largest music festivals in the whole of Europe. Between June and September, over 170 concerts take place with internationally renowned orchestras and soloists. During this time, the Rheingau turns into one huge concert stage at its many venues which are steeped in history. While the festival is primarily dedicated to classical music, it also incorporates other genres, such as jazz. Of course, being in the Rheingau there are plenty of wine tastings, which have also become a standard feature of the Rheingau Music Festival.
Hanau hosts the Brüder Grimm Festspiele every year from mid-May to the end of July. Here, fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm are performed in the open air in the palace gardens, the Schlosspark. Children and adults alike enjoy the stories of Hansel and Gretel, Frau Holle, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood.
In Bad Vilbel open-air performances also take place every year. The Burgfestspiele run from early June to the beginning of September. The focus is on open-air theatre which attracts many visitors every year. Over the past few years, there has also been more on offer for families and children.
Many regions in FRM are well-known for wine-growing, which is why there are so many wine festivals. One example is the vineyard hike, Weinlagenwanderung, in Bergstraße, which takes place on the 1st of May every year. Visitors hike along the vineyards on a marked route between the towns of Heppenheim, Bensheim and Zwingenberg, sampling the local wines which are sold by winegrowers on the wayside.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, during the time of Advent, people in FRM meet up at the world-famous Christmas markets. Lights, Christmas trees and regional Christmas fare such as mulled wine (Glühwein) and gingerbread (Lebkuchen) fill the towns with Christmas spirit. One of the most well-known Christmas markets is the Frankfurt Christmas Market, which prides itself with the largest Christmas tree in Germany. You will find an overview of all of the Christmas markets in FRM on the regional tourist website.
Last but not least, is the so-called “fifth season” in Germany! From the 11th of November to Ash Wednesday (a few weeks before Easter), Germans celebrate carnival, Fasching, also known as Karneval or Fastnacht. The name varies throughout the country and even within the region. The highlight of the carnival period is one week before the beginning of Lent, usually in February. On that day, the streets are filled with people in disguise. So, do not be surprised if you meet a bus driver in a clown’s costume or a sales assistant wearing a colourful wig.
During this time people celebrate in style and children also have a lot of fun. At street parades, nicely decorated floats roll along the street, with sweets raining into the crowds. However, carnival is not celebrated everywhere in the same way, although even the smaller towns organise something. The carnival stronghold in FRM is the city of Mainz which is renowned for its Shrove Monday Parade (Rosenmontagszug).
These are just some of the highlights. It is worth looking out for popular festivals and events beyond the larger towns and cities. Larger and smaller towns in FRM have something to offer in every size and to everyone’s taste. You will find an overview of what is on where, on the websites of the towns and municipalities. In addition, you will find a comprehensive overview on the event calendar of the regional tourist website.