September 18, 2008
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to head to Germany, you now have five. From Beethoven to books, one of these upcoming celebrations is sure to sate your thirst for German culture, even if the steins of Oktoberfest don’t.
Rhine in Flames: September 20 in St. Goar
Catch the summer’s last Rhine in Flames event in St. Goar, a town nestled on the river about halfway between Frankfurt and Bonn and home of the legendary Loreley rock. Joy S attended a Flames event last year and says that “500,000 people lined the shores to watch eight fireworks displays in less than 90 minutes; another 30,000 watched from boats, and 10 miles of promenade were decorated.” In Spay, the town where she watched the spectacle, “the carnival atmosphere lasted way after the fireworks and last boat had passed. The people there seemed to carry on with the party into the early hours of the night.” JulieHolm attended in Bingen, where “the illuminated ships came into view and the fireworks started, lighting up the two castles.”
Oktoberfest: September 20-October 5 in Munich
The lederhosen-clad granddaddy of German fall festivals is, of course, Oktoberfest, kicking off this Saturday at Munich’s Schottenhamel tent. Many IgoUgo members have sang along with the crowds, beer and pretzel in hand, but vivalastephie sums up the atmosphere beautifully: “Sitting on the balcony in the Paulaner tent gave us a great view of the whole place, with everyone standing on the benches hoisting their mugs. We went three nights in a row and had a different experience each time. Singing and dancing with people from all over the world was such fun, and everyone we met was friendly, even if we couldn't speak the same language.”
Beethovenfest: August 29-September 28 in Bonn
Bonn has been paying homage to its most famous son with music festivals since 1845. Today, the city hosts a monthlong program of diverse concerts as artists from all over the world converge to honor the composer. Don’t forget to stop at the Beethoven-Haus for a look at his birthplace and to gather images to go along with his music. “The visit to the Beethoven-Haus was thoroughly enjoyable,” says becks. “The displays are well organized and presented and the personnel most friendly and helpful.”
Frankfurt Book Fair: October 15-19 in Frankfurt
Frankfurt has come a long way since Johannes Gutenberg first began putting print on paper in a nearby town, and in 2008 the world’s largest book fair celebrates its 60th year. The featured country this year will be Turkey, and hundreds of thousands are expected to arrive for the program, prompting becks to warn of one hotel, “during the annual Book Fair in October not even the manager’s mother dreams of staying here—rooms are booked out years in advance.” So do make sure you have a place to stay before you go.
International Culinary Olympics: October 19-22 in Erfurt
The biggest culinary event in the world—and the 22nd annual showdown—will feature about 1,600 chefs from more than 40 countries and is open to visitors ready to see, smell, and taste the participants’ work. Pay special attention to the German chefs for a trace of the “tantalizing aroma of wurst cooking,” as Eve Carr describes Germany’s traditional cuisine. Here’s to the wurst being the best.