The internationally renowned Oktoberfest takes place annually from the second last week in September until the first Sunday in October. The first festival took place in 1810 at the wedding of Prince Ludwig 1 and his wife Therese. Little did they know that it was to become the biggest public festival in the world. Each year it is attended by about six million visitors who manage to consume over five million litres of beer and four hundred thousand pork sausages. As well as the famous ‘beer tents’, there are also a large number of attractions including live music and dance where traditional brass bands treat you to their talent. Of course, if brass isn’t your thing, there is a variety of more appealing music. The highlight of the festival is the Grand Entry of the Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries.
Love Parade, Berlin
This unique festival takes place in early July each year since its inception in 1989 and attracts almost two million people. It originally began as a celebration of the love that came about between East and West when the wall came down – interesting. Basically it’s just one big music festival taking place in the streets of Berlin. You can hear anything from house to rave while wandering around and the atmosphere, to use a well-worn cliché, is truly electric.
International Film Festival, Berlin
Usually taking place from around February 9th to 20th, this is your chance to spy on the rich and famous. In various theatres directors, stars, those who think they’re stars and those who want to be stars flock ply their ware. The whole city is consumed by the glitz and gala of the festival and is a really fun environment to be a part of. International films, as well as the latest German films, are shown in various movie theatres around the city and tickets can be purchased at any box office. So, as well as chasing those who are popular at the moment, you also get to see who will be in the future. It’s an education.
Now that you are walking the streets that some of the world’s most famous composers once walked – Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner – it would be unforgivable not to visit at least one German theatre. Even if you despise classical music, you will be swept up in the whole atmosphere and ceremony of this particular form of entertainment. The Germans have even dedicated a whole festival to Mozart, but it does go on for over a month, you've been warned. The majority of the most popular theatres are found in the bigger cities so here are just a few of many – the Deutshe Oper Berliner in Berlin (strangely enough), Staatsoper in Hamburg, and the Residensztheater and Volkstheater in Munich. You could also check out the comic opera at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz or the smaller fringe theatres in Nymphenburg.
The German Jazz Scene
As well as music of the classical variety, Germany also has a vibrant jazz scene. You will find several excellent jazz clubs from the bright and cheerful to the dark and smoky in all the bigger cities, and there is usually one or two hidden in the smaller towns too. In fact, a lot of the time the smaller clubs are better as the atmosphere is much more akin to the true jazz scene than it is in the larger clubs. The jazz festivals which take place throughout the year are popular too so if you are in Germany around the time that they are on you could do worse than pay one of them a visit. You will find one in Frankfurt in March, the Stuttgart Jazz Fest is on in April and in Berlin it takes place in November. The events are lively and relatively cheap thanks to the multitude of free out-door concerts, and well worth a look and a listen.