Nine German Festivals You Don't Want to Miss

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

While some German festivals have reached heights of fame, and are known throughout the world, the variety of festivals is so great that no one could have heard of them all. This list covers some festivals you’ll have heard of, and some you haven’t, but it will definitely get you excited for everything Germany has to offer. The only problem is choosing which ones you’ll go to!

1. Berlinale - Berlin - February 2020

Not all German festivals are alcohol orientated, Berlinale is the largest publicly attended film festival in the world, bringing in half a million patrons and around twenty thousand industry professionals to make it a must-see for any film buffs. Showing up to 400 films ranging from experimental arthouse films, to nature documentaries, through to children’s movies, all competing for the prestigious Golden and Silver Bear awards, Berlinale has a bit of something for everyone.

2. Springfest - Munich - April/May 2020

Maybe you’re busy when Oktoberfest is on. Maybe 6 million people is too many people to deal with. Does that mean you can’t participate in a massive stein sinking celebration? No, it does not! Springfest is the younger sister of Oktoberfest, with all the beery goodness we know and love but with shorter queues, better weather, and a more intimate setting, allowing for more time for the important business of drinking and often a more authentic Bavarian experience.

Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a small festival though, Springfest still attracts crowds of nearly one million over its course. Although accommodation prices skyrocket, if you want to avoid the hassle and optimise your enjoyment, you can book your Springfest trip to stay in all-inclusive camping with Stoke Travel. Your tent will be erected, meals prepared and with unlimited beer and sangria available at the campsite, join Stoke for the ultimate Springfest experience.

3. Wave-Gotik-Treffen - Leipzig - May 2020 Let your inner demons out at this 20-year-old annual celebration of dark music and arts. With 150 bands from a variety of genres including Gothic rock, Industrial and Neo-classical, music is the main draw for this festival but certainly not all that’s on offer. Markets selling everything from goth and steampunk wares, all the way to viking and pagan merchandise, as well as book readings, fetishistic events and absinthe brunches, making it clear why this is one of the best attended occult festivals in the world.

4. World Club Dome - Frankfurt - May/June 2020

With 200 DJs playing across 20 stages, it’s easy to see why World Club Dome markets themselves as “the biggest club in the world”. Over 130,000 EDM fans travel to Frankfurt each year to see not only world-class acts but also one of the world’s best festival light shows. World Club Dome is not just the one event however, they also offer “the world’s fastest club” on board a high-speed train, and “the world’s highest club” at 10,000 feet in an aeroplane, if you are looking for a unique, albeit expensive, clubbing experience.

5. Rock am Ring/Rock im Park - Nuremberg - June 2020 The twin rock festivals, held at the same time, in the same city, with pretty much the same line-up, combine together to be the biggest music festival in Germany, with over 80,000 people attending each of them just last year. Metallica, Bowie, Bob Dylan and Rage Against the Machine are among the long list of incredible headliners. As a rock fan, I can think of no better way to kick off the start of summer.

6. Wacken Open Air - Wacken - August 2020

Generally considered to be the biggest heavy metal festival in the world, Wacken Open Air attracts crowds of up to 90,000 fans from across the world, coming to see some of the biggest names in metal. From Alice Cooper to Cannibal Corpse, bands frequently describe it as one of their favourite places to perform and often record live albums and concert DVDs during their sets. If you’re a metalhead, then get yourself to the village of Wacken, 80 km northwest of Hamburg at the end of summer for a must-see spectacle.

7. Oktoberfest - Munich - September/October 2020

No list of German festivals would be complete without this bucket-list-worthy celebration of traditional German culture which obviously includes consuming copious amounts of beer. In fact, over 8 million litres of beer are drunk during the two-week long festival, the equivalent of the entire population of Somalia having a pint each! Not just about drinking though, Oktoberfest also offers fairground rides, traditional food and of course there is the Bavarian clothing, lederhosen and dirndls, allowing you to feel cultured while you pour litres of beer down your throat. Accommodation can be notoriously difficult to find and not to mention expensive in Munich during this time, some companies provide camping accommodation which is far more affordable. Stoke Travel offers package deals including twin-share camping style accommodation, chef-prepared breakfast and dinner daily, Stoke guides to direct you into the festivities, an international crew of young-people to drink with and their legendary campsite parties with their carnivalesque atmosphere and unlimited beer and sangria for an additional €10 per day.

8. Frankfurt Book Festival - Frankfurt - October 2020

You won’t find much rock here, but as we all know paper beats rock and at the world’s largest trade fair for books, there is a lot of paper! The tradition of this festival goes back more than 500 years, even before the printing press was invented. Nowadays, there are over 7000 exhibitors from 100 countries, with the first three days of the festival being for professionals only, and the rest of us plebs being allowed in during the final two days.

9. Karneval - Cologne - November 2020

One of the biggest street festivals in Europe, Karneval starts at 11:11 on the 11/11 and lasts for 40 days, with a brief break for Christmas. While it is held in other German cities, Cologne’s is the biggest, bringing over a million people onto the streets to watch the parades, marching bands and lavishly decorated floats. There are activities off the street too, from costume balls to satirical comedy shows, you can see why the Germans call it their “Fifth Season”!

From giants of the film and literature world to giant steins of beer, there is something for everyone on this list, and this is just the tip of the iceberg! German festivals have become world-renowned, and for good reason, plus they just keep getting better, so get out there and find one that’s right for you. And if you want to lay back and have all the logistics taken care of, check out what Stoke Travel has to offer. With packages to suit every traveller, from twin-share tents to the more luxurious side of outdoor living glamping options, and four-night, Ultimate-Adventure packages to 48 hour Ride with Us trips, Stoke has got you covered. Their all-inclusive camping means your life is made easy, with accommodation, daily meals, transport, guides and good times guaranteed.

Plus, use code NOMADEN for free unlimited beer and sangria at any Stoke Travel trip!

Check out videos from Stoke's Oktoberfest & Springfest trips.