Are you traveling around southern Germany this summer? Do you want to try German cuisine and locally brewed beer while experiencing the local culture? Well, this post is for you! Summer is indeed the perfect season to explore the north Bavarian region of Franconia thanks to numerous events that will give you the opportunity to feel just like a local.
Franconians surely know how to celebrate! Folk festivals are common and have traditionally been held for centuries. With many different beer and wine events from spring through autumn, you will likely get a chance to experience one of them yourself. In this post, I´ll present 12 traditional offbeat festivals in Franconia, which you should definitely consider on your trip. And best of all: most of these events are free! Also check out my event infographic at the very end of this post. This will give you a perfect festival overview, so you can start planning which event you are going to attend.
Old Town Festival – Nuremberg
There’s no better way to experience deeply rooted Franconian traditions than at Nuremberg’s annual Old Town Festival in September. This event has been celebrated since 1971 and is one of the most significant festivals in Franconia. For two weeks, you can enjoy local beer and regional food from different booths at Insel Schütt and Hans-Sachs Square in the Old Town. Visitors can also listen to the diverse musical program offered in several venues, such as the ruins of St. Catherine’s Church or on the outdoor stage at the Main Market Square. Other highlights include the Nuremberg Autumn Market with arts and crafts as well as the traditional Fishermen’s Joust on the River Pegnitz.
Where: All over the Old Town, Nuremberg
When: September 12 – 24, 2018
Franconian Beer Festival – Nuremberg
The Franconian Beer Festival takes place in the romantic castle moat below the Nuremberg Imperial Castle. Around forty local breweries, most of which are located in either Bamberg or the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park, offer more than 100 typical Franconian beers. Food stalls, as well as a diverse musical program make this festival a must-see event for both locals and foreign tourists.
TopTip: This festival offers the unique opportunity to try a lot of traditional beers from small, independent breweries in southern Germany. There’s no other event in the area where you have all those wonderful beers in one place.
>> See also: 14 Unique Beers To Try In Franconia
Where: Castle moat, Nuremberg
When: May 30 – June 3, 2018
Bardentreffen – Nuremberg
For over 40 years, the city of Nuremberg has been hosting an awesome summer event, the so-called “Bardentreffen” (eng. Meeting Of The Bards). It usually takes place on the last weekend of July. For three days, music from all over the world will fill the streets of Nuremberg’s beautiful Old Town. Various open-air stages offer a diverse musical program with both national and international acts across several genres. Besides the official program, you can also listen to numerous buskers and bands performing their own songs all over the city center. This entertaining, multi-cultural event usually draws over 200,000 visitors and is one of the most famous festivals in the south of Germany.
>> See also: Budget Travel Guide: Experience Nuremberg In 2 Days
Where: All over the Old Town, Nuremberg
When: July 27 – 29, 2018
Bamberg zaubert – Bamberg
Every year on the third weekend in July, a magical event takes place in Bamberg’s Old Town: “Bamberg zaubert” (eng: Bamberg performs magic). On the main stage at Max Square, a diverse program with wizards, acrobats, and comedians will take your breath away. You can also watch the jugglers, clowns, fire dancers, and other artists perform at 25 spots across the Old Town. Over 120 artists from all over the world will make this weekend a Franconian highlight for both locals and tourists.
Where: Max Square & all over the Old Town, Bamberg
When: July 13 – 15, 2018
Sandkerwa – Bamberg
For over 60 years, Bamberg has been hosting the Sandkerwa, one of the most authentic fairs in Bavaria. It takes place in the narrow streets of Bamberg’s historic Old Town. 200,000 visitors appreciate this festival for its authentic link between tradition and modern times. With food stalls and brewery booths selling their unique Franconian beer all over the city center, this fair is definitely a local event not to be missed.
>> See also: Budget Travel Guide: Experience Bamberg In 1 Day
Where: Sandstraße & all over the Old Town, Bamberg
When: August 23 – 27, 2018
International Samba Festival – Coburg
Every year on the second weekend in July, the International Samba Festival takes place in the Franconian town of Coburg. With more than 200,000 visitors, it is now one of the largest samba events outside Brazil. Around 3000 international samba dancers and percussion groups entertain visitors on several open-air stages and assigned street spots across the Old Town. Over the past 20 years, the Samba Festival has received many awards and is now an essential landmark of Coburg.
Admission: 3-Day-Pass for 24 €
Where: All over the Old Town, Coburg
When: July 13 – 15, 2018
Schlossplatzfest – Coburg
For 32 years, Coburg has been celebrating the Schlossplatzfest (eng. castle square festival). Visitors can expect local artists, bands, and a range of culinary delicacies in the beautiful atmosphere of the castle square in the city center of Coburg. Different genres and entertainment shows make this a festival for anyone, though smart casual clothing is common among locals.
Where: Castle Square, Coburg
When: July 19 – 23, 2018
Umsonst & Draußen – Würzburg
The Franconian city of Würzburg is home to a fantastic music open-air festival, the Umsonst & Draußen Festival (eng. free & outdoor festival). For four days, regional artists and bands perform their songs on four different stages and attract up to 100,000 people. Besides music, visitors can enjoy entertainment program of all kinds, such as presentations, barista courses or art exhibitions.
Where: Mainwiesen, Würzburg
When: June 21 – 24, 2018
Würzburger Weindorf – Würzburg
The city of Würzburg is the metropolis of Franconian wine and offers several wine events throughout the year, one of which is the Würzburger Weindorf (eng. Würzburg wine village). Both local and international wine enthusiasts can look forward to individual wine specialties from twelve different wineries. Elegantly arranged pergolas on the market square invite you to have a glass (or two) of Franconian wine in a relaxed atmosphere.
Where: Market Square, Würzburg
When: May 25 – June 3, 2018
STRAMU (International Street Performance Festival) – Würzburg
Every year in early September, the city center of Würzburg turns into a melting pot of street music. With more than 100.000 visitors, STRAMU is among the largest street performance festivals in Europe and, together with the Nuremberg Bardentreffen, one of the most significant in Germany. On 24 assigned spots throughout the town’s pedestrian zone, hundreds of artists from all over the world perform music, theatre, dance, fire shows and magic.
Where: City Centre, Würzburg
When: September 7 – 9, 2018
Bayreuther Bürgerfest – Bayreuth
For over 40 years, Bayreuth has been celebrating the Citizen Festival on the first weekend in July. Today, the event attracts up to 120.000 visitors and is a popular summer event amongst both residents and day trippers. With a diverse musical program on open-air stages, beer stalls and great food, this three-day festival is a party not to miss.
Where: Old Town, Bayreuth
When: July 6 – 8, 2018
Africa-Caribbean-Festival – Bayreuth
This annual street festival takes place in the city center of Bayreuth. Traditional African rhythms and Caribbean sounds, a bazaar with original handicrafts as well as authentic African-Creole cuisine make this festival a colorful favorite among Africa-enthusiasts. You may also find Africa Festivals in both Würzburg and Nuremberg, though the Africa-Caribbean-Festival in Bayreuth has more diversity as they also focus on the Caribbean.
Where: Maximilianstraße, Bayreuth
When: July 20 – 22, 2018
Are you traveling in winter instead of summer? No worries, there are also a few excellent events taking place. The most authentic and most famous one is probably Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, which is the largest Christmas market in Europe. However, most other German towns also offer a Christmas market, usually much smaller and way cheaper in prices, though.
You May Also Like:
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Ultimate Franconia Beer Guide: 14 Unique Beers To Try In Southern Germany