Home Out & About Best of Germany Top 10 festivals in Germany
Last update on January 30, 2019

From Munich to Berlin, there are more than 10,000 festivals across Germany celebrating music, film, beer and much more.

If you’re living in Germany, there’s no better time to immerse yourself in German culture than during the burst and celebration of their revered top German festivals. You’ll see the German festival spirit first-hand at any of these top 10 festivals in German. There are plenty more top German festivals to experience, where you can join your German counterparts in celebrating everything from beer to books.

How many top 10 German festivals have you crossed off your list?

1. Berlin International Film Festival

The world’s second largest international film festival after Cannes has one massive advantage over its French rival: you don’t have to be invited to watch the Berlin International Film Festival’s 400 films (mostly European and international premieres) as anyone can buy tickets online via their website.

2. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park

What do you get when you have two huge rock festivals held simultaneously over three days in two different locations: A rocking weekend at one of largest music festivals in the world. Rock am Ring is held at the Nürburgring racetrack, in the west of Nürburg, and Rock im Park is held at the Zeppelinfeld in Nuremberg, in the south.
www.rock-am-ring.com | www.rock-im-park.com

3. Oktoberfest

It’s beer, beer and more beer, as well as traditional Bavarian foods, oompah bands and lots of men wearing leiderhosen at what the Germans call Wiesn, after the fields or grasslands (wiese) where the first Oktoberfest was held. If you’re going in a group of 10 or more to this massive beer festival in Munich, think about reserving a table – free of charge – in one of the 30+ beer and food tents (afternoons are the least crowded times).

Top German festivals: Oktoberfest

Each one has its own atmosphere – yodelling, families, celebrities, footie fans – and its own website for reservations.

4. Festival-Mediaval

Sure, this major medieval festival held in the town of Selb, close to the German-Czech border, has mock battles, archery, birds of prey and everything else you might associate with medieval life but it’s also Europe’s largest medieval music festival. Take your tent and chill out to modern interpretations of medieval rock, contemporary folk, pagan folk and metal from around the world.

5. Leipzig Book Fair

Top German festivals: Leipzig Book Fair

The Frankfurt Bookfair may be the biggest date on the calendar for those who work in the world of book publishing but for everyone else, Leipzig is the place to go for all things literary. You can meet your favourite authors and find out what’s new in the world of books – be that fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and more ­ – at hundreds of different events around the city during the largest literature festival in Europe.


6. Richard Wagner Festival (Bayreuth festival)

Showcasing the work of 19th-century composer Richard Wagner, most notably the mammoth and mythological cycle of four operas called Der Ring des Nibelungen or the Ring Cycle, this famous festival is considered the epitome of German high culture. Most tickets are sold out years in advance but tickets for some performances are available online. If you’re feeling lucky (and rich) then check out the website.

7. Karneval

Top German festivals: Carnival in Germany

Karneval or Fasching, the German carnival or mardi gras, officially starts from 11 November  at 11.11 to the following Ash Wednesday, but the main celebrations start on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally on this day, women could kiss any man after cutting off his tie. There are huge street parades and parties on the weekend before, on Rose Monday, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Most cities around Germany will put on their own celebrations.


8. International Dixieland Festival Dresden

This old-time jazz festival, the oldest in Europe, recreates the atmosphere of the deep south of America. There’s music played on paddleboat steamers on the Elbe instead of the Mississippi, brass band parades around the streets of the Old Town instead of New Orleans and performance stages all around the city – including the Jazz Mile. A stomping good time.

9. Africa festival, Würtzburg

Every year, Würtzburg is home to the largest celebration of African music and culture in the whole of Europe. There are typically up to four stages, hundreds of musicians, singers and dancers from around Africa and thousands of visitors. Come for the day or bring a tent and stay for the whole weekend. Check out their website to get a taste of the artists who will be performing this summer.

10. German Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkts)

Top German festivals: Christmas in Germany

You’ll find Christmas markets – quaint little stalls selling seasonal gifts, foodstuffs and spiced wine ­– all over Europe but Germany likely has the most (Berlin alone has 50) and also some of the best, making it one of the most magical places at Christmas time. These markets are worth making a special trip: Nuremburg, Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Worms.


More information

For more detail and information on other festivals and public holidays in Germany, see Expatica’s guides to top German festivals and German public holidays.

Photo credits: LenDog64 (German Christmas market), LenDog64 (German carnival).