Held every August, the Museumsuferfest is an international gala spectacular of gastronomy, music, theater and museums stretching along both Main river banks. This festival was created in the late '80s to grant Frankfurt's unique museum embankment the prominence it richly deserves. Over the course of the three-day festival, museums open their doors free of charge to thousands of visitors from all over the world. Chinese dragon boat racing is an annual feature, and some 10 stages on both sides of the river provide music for every taste. The festival is normally held in late August.
Burgfestspiele in Bad Hersfeld
Every summer, Bad Hersfeld hosts its spectacular open-air theatrical festival. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the ruins of the 1,000-year-old Collegiate Church (Stiftsruine), performances range from classical plays to operas and modern-day musicals. The church was destroyed by the French in 1761 and all that remain are 103-meter-long walls and a splendid Romanesque arch, which provide a fantastic scene and marvelous acoustics. To make a weekend of it, enjoy one of the numerous spas in the area or visit the nearby Rhön National Park.
Tel: 06621-201 313
The classical music concerts in the Weilburg Castle mark one of the highpoints of Hessen's cultural summer. The series of around 40 concerts from June to August are performed in the opulent and extremely acoustic Renaissance hall of the Weilburg Castle, the castle church or the conservatory (Orangerie). The patron of the concert series has traditionally been Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, the great grandson of the last Duke of Nassau, in whose castle the concerts are performed.
Tel: 06471-944 218
Rheingau Musik Festival
What started out as a small series of classical music concerts in 1988 has grown into an internationally-recognized summer musical event spread over nine weeks, from June to September. More than 100 concerts are staged at nearly 40 different locations throughout the Rheingau - one of Germany's most beautiful winegrowing regions - including Kloster Eberbach, Schloss Johannisberg and Schloss Vollrads. Classical music remains the main attraction, but in recent years the festival has embraced cabaret, jazz and readings. Many of the performances are also accompanied by extraordinary culinary offerings that are, of course, served with excellent regional wine.
Tel: 06723 - 602170
The rambunctious revelry associated with Karnival - Germany's silly season - reaches its high-point in Mainz, Cologne and Düsseldorf, but it is also celebrated with wild parades and masked balls in many cities and villages throughout Frankfurt-Rhein-Main. The beginning of the Mardi Gras season (Fastnacht) traditionally starts on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, but the real merrymaking gets underway on the Thursday before Lent and culminates with the huge Rosenmontag parades on the Monday preceding Ash Wednesday. Fastnacht is a time when the rules and order of daily life are subverted, inspiring satirical plays, impertinent political speeches and generally excessive behavior. Watch the newspapers for listings.
Christmas Market in Michelstadt
It seems as if every city in Germany has its own Christmas market, but one of the most charming is in Michelstadt. It is here that the familiar smells, the cold air of the Odenwald and the welcome taste of Glühwein (mulled wine) are all accentuated by the cozy atmosphere of the town's half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets. The Odenwald is home to a colony of talented local artists and artisans who come to the market to display their wares. Endless rows of wooden stalls line the streets as visitors browse in an atmosphere of friendly hustle and bustle.
Jewish Culture Week Frankfurt
Frankfurt's Jewish community once numbered 30,000 and included some of the city's most prominent citizens - indeed Frankfurt's mayor from 1924 to 1933 Ludwig Landmann was Jewish. Today, Frankfurt's Jewish community is about 7,000, the fourth largest in Germany after Berlin, Munich and Düsseldorf. And, Frankfurt's current mayor, Peter Feldmann, is also Jewish. Although the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt will be closed for two years beginning in 2014 for renovations, the city will host the annual Jewish Culture Week. This cultural celebration features exhibitions, films, concert, readings and much more over a two-week period in different locations throughout the city. The Jewish Culture Week Frankfurt usually takes place in September. For more information, check out the Jüdische Gemeinde Frankfurt website at www.jg-ffm.de
Another great jazz festival, this time closer to central Hessen in the Taunus, the Hessen Jazz festival in Idstein is traditionally held the first weekend of the state's summer school vacation. Shows are held on 12 stages throughout the city and all jazz styles are represented - blues, swing, fusion, modern, etc. Activities for children and other events about jazz complete the program.
European Elvis Festival in Bad Nauheim
Elvis Presley lived in Bad Nauheim for two years while serving in the US military in Germany in nearby Friedberg. Every year, Bad Nauheim -- which is otherwise known for its Art Nouveau architecture and spas -- celebrates its Rock 'n' Roll heritage. The European Elvis Festival is usually held in August and features everything that is Elvis: concerts, exhibitions, a parade of vintage cars, showings of Elvis' films and fan markets. For dates and more information, go to www.bad-nauheim.de
Every year since 1961, the Hessen festivities take place in a different city in the region. Spread over 10 days in June, a variety of happenings, such as open-air concerts of popular bands, musicals and children's shows, mark the event.
There are dozens of colorful wine festivals throughout the region and centuries-old folk festivals (today, with high-tech rides and fireworks). To name but a few: the "Dippemess" (twice a year, in April and September) and "Mainfest" (early August) in Frankfurt, spring and autumn fairs and the "Heinerfest" (early July) in Darmstadt, "Johannisnacht" (end of June) in Mainz and the "Hochheimer Markt" in Hochheim (early November) on the Main.
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