Peak travel months in Germany are May through October, with another boost in December when the Christmas markets are held and skiers head to the Bavarian Alps.
As in many parts of the world, the weather in Germany has become less predictable. Locals in northern Germany will tell you that they now get less snow and more rain, in southern Germany they’ll tell you that the climate is hotter and drier than it used to be. So be prepared for variations. Recent summers brought record-breaking heat waves and even in autumn many parts of Germany can be warmer than expected. A hurricane-like storm swept over parts of northern Germany in October 2013.
Overall, Germany has a predominantly mild, temperate climate. Average summer temperatures range from 20[dg]C–30[dg]C (72[dg]F–80[dg]F). The average winter temperature hovers around 0[dg]C (32[dg]F). That said, bear in mind that the climate is constantly affected by colliding continental and maritime air masses from the Baltic and North seas, resulting in plenty of unpredictable weather, especially in the north.
Festivals & Special Events
There’s more to Germany than Oktoberfest. Germany hums year-round with festivals and special events of all kinds, and these can add an additional sparkle to your trip. Below are a few of the major festivals and special events.
New Year’s Day International Ski Jumping in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is one of Europe’s major winter sporting events. www.gapa.de. January 1.
Berlin International Film Festival lasts for a week and showcases the work of international film directors in addition to the latest German films. www.berlinale.de. Second week in February.
Fasching (Carnival) festivals take place in Catholic cities throughout Germany, reaching their peak on the Tuesday (Mardi Gras) before Ash Wednesday. Celebrations in Cologne and Munich are particularly famous. A week in February.
Hamburg Sommer is the umbrella name given to a summer-long series of cultural events in Hamburg, including concerts, plays, festivals, and special exhibitions. www.hamburg.de/dom. May through July.
Historisches Festspiel (History Festival), Rothenburg ob der Tauber, celebrates the story of how a brave citizen saved the town from destruction by drinking a huge tankard of wine (an event called Der Meistertrunk). www.meistertrunk.de. Events take place over a 4-day period every Whitsuntide (Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter), in early September, and twice in October.
Oberammergau Passionspiele (Passion Play), a world-famous religious spectacle performed in the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau every decade, will next be performed in 2020. www.oberammergau-passionplay.com. May through October.
Heidelberg Castle Illumination During this week, fireworks enliven the sky in the romantic university city of Heidelberg. www.schloss-heidelberg.de. One Saturday in early June, mid-July, and early September.
Mozart Festival in Würzburg is a major cultural event in Germany. www.mozartfest.de. Early June to early July.
Gay Pride festivals, featuring parades, performances, and street fairs, take place in Berlin, which hosts the largest such fest in Germany and Cologne. Berlin’s celebration is the last weekend in June; Cologne, first weekend in June.
Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival One of the best music festivals in Europe, classical concerts take place in venues in and around the lovely old city of Lübeck . www.shmf.de. Mid-July through August or early September.
Weinfest (Wine Festival) Enjoy vintages from the surrounding Black Forest area during this celebration in Freiburg . Events take place in the Münsterplatz surrounding Freiburg’s magnificent cathedral. www.weinfest.freiburg.de. First week of July.
Bayreuther Festspiele One of Europe’s major opera events, the Bayreuther Festspiele (also known as the Richard Wagner Festival) takes place in the composer’s famous Festspielhaus (opera house) in Bayreuth. www.bayreuther-festspiele.de. July through late August.
Weinkost (Food and Wine Fair) During this yearly event in Freiburg , local residents and visitors enjoy the first vintages from grapes grown in the Black Forest district and regional food specialties. www.freiburg.de. Late July to early August.
Nürnberger Herbsvolksfest (Fall Folk Festival), a big Frankish folk festival in Nuremberg , features folk music, jazz concerts, and events for the whole family. www.volksfest-nuernberg.de. Last week in August to the first week in September.
Rotweinfest (Red Wine Festival), held in the village of Assmannshausen on the scenic Mittelrhein, celebrates the wines it is most famous for. www.assmannshausen.mittelrhein.net. Late August.
Musikfest Berlin, spread out over more than 2 weeks, plays host to orchestras, ensembles, conductors, and soloists from around the world. www.berlinerfestspiele.de. Late August to mid-September.
Alstervergnügen (Alster Pleasures) Arts and abound during in Hamburg’s august fete . Events, which take place around Binnenalster Lake, include food stalls, fireworks, and shows. www.alstervergnuegen.info. Last weekend in August.
Stuttgart Wine Festival Wine lovers converge on Schillerplatz in Stuttgart to taste a selection of more than 350 Württemberg wines and sample regional food specialties. www.stuttgart-tourist.de. Last week in August.
Oktoberfest Germany’s most famous beer festival, happens mostly in September, not October, in Munich. Most activities occur at Theresienwiese, where local breweries sponsor giant tents, each holding up to 6,000 beer drinkers. www.oktoberfest.de. Mid-Sept to first Sunday in October.
Beer Festival Dating back to 1818, the 16-day Stuttgart’s beerapalooza is the second largest in Germany after Munich’s Oktoberfest. It begins with a grand procession of horse-drawn beer wagons and people in traditional costumes and features food, rides, and tents for beer drinkers. www.stuttgart-tourist.info. Late September.
Frankfurt Book Fair The largest book fair in Europe, it’s a major event in the world of international book publishing. www.buchmesse.de. Mid-October.
Jazz-Fest. Staged at various venues in Berlin, this annual music event attracts some of the world’s finest jazz artists. www.berlinerfestspiele.de. First week in November.
Hamburger Dom (also called Winter Dom), an annual amusement fair at Heiligengeistfeld in Hamburg is the biggest public event in northern Germany. www.hamburg.de/dom. November through December.
Christmas Markets, sometimes called a Weihnachtsmarkt (Weihnachten means Christmas) or a Christkindlmarkt (literally, “Christ Child Market”), take place in town squares throughout Germany. You find them in Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich, Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Stuttgart, among other cities. www.visitgermany.com. Last weekend in November through Christmas.
Public holidays are January 1, Easter (Good Fri and Easter Mon), May 1 (Labor Day), Ascension Day (10 days before Pentecost/Whitsunday, the seventh Sun after Easter), Whitmonday (day after Pentecost/Whitsunday), October 3 (Day of German Unity), November 17 (Day of Prayer and Repentance), December 25 (Christmas), and December 26. In addition, the following holidays are observed in some German states: January 6 (Epiphany), Corpus Christi (10 days after Pentecost), August 15 (Assumption), and November 1 (All Saints’ Day).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.