Seven events not to miss in Germany this November

It might be getting colder and darker, but that shouldn't stop you getting out to explore what Germany has on offer this November.

Seven events not to miss in Germany this November
Tollwood Winter Festival, Munich. Photo: Tollwood

1. The Berlin Jazzfest, November 1st – 6th

The hr-Bigband and Jim McNeely, who will be performing at the festival. Photo: Dirk Ostermeier / Berliner Festspiele

“Now more than half a century old, the event itself has become something of a Grande Dame of the jazz festival scene,” said the Daily Telegraph about last year's Jazzfest. First held in West Berlin in 1964, the festival is still going strong, and this year sees an extended version from November 1st for six days.

The 53rd Jazzfest will take place in four venues across Berlin. It is based at the Berliner Festspiele arts centre, with other concerts at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the A-Trane jazz club and at the Maison de France.

With more than 16 jazz ensembles and five duo combinations, the festival promises to be a great few days for jazz lovers. Tickets are now on sale.

2. Bad Tölz's Leonhardifahrt, (southern Bavaria) November 6th – 8th

The Leonhardifahrt is a religious procession in honour of Saint Leonhard of Noblac, the patron saint of livestock, in the south Bavarian town of Bad Tölz.

Each year on Leonhard's saint day – this year falling on November 7th – a procession of procession of beautifully adorned horses and carts gathers in the spa area of town in the early morning hours before making a pilgrimage up the hill to Leonhard’s Chapel. The procession is followed by a traditional display of whip cracking – a site to behold due to the skill and strength required.

The procession is a great example of traditional religious customs in Bavaria, and takes place with the scenic backdrop of the old town.

3. Cologne's Karneval, November 11th – February 28th 2017


A photo posted by Julia Schulz (@julia_schulz_) on Jan 10, 2016 at 9:47am PST

Starting at 11 minutes past 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Karneval is steeped in history and curious tradition. The main festivities featuring parades and colourful costumes start up before the beginning of Lent in February of next year, but the party officially kicks off in November. 

One of Karneval's strangest customs is the Dreigestirn (the triumvirate): each year before the Karneval season, three people are chosen as the Jungfrau, Prinz and Bauer (virgin, prince and farmer), who are central within the festivities. The virgin is always portrayed by a man who is not allowed facial hair.

On November 11th, up to 70,000 revellers will come together in Heumarkt Square in Cologne's old town. The square is transformed into carnival craziness, with traditional bands regaling the crowd till the evening. The Dreigestirn are also set to make an appearance.

Although official celebrations in the square end in the early evening, don't worry: bars around the city keep the partying going into the early hours.

The carnival season officially ends with Ash Wednesday on March 1st next year.

4. Christmas Garden Berlin, November 17th – January 1st

“As the twilight falls, the magic begins” is the motto of the 2016 Christmas celebrations at the Berlin Botanical Gardens.

The show promises a fairytale landscape in which visitors wander through one and a half kilometres of “breathtaking light shows, bright dream forests and magical light figures” far from the packed crowds of Berlin's Christmas markets. 

At the end of the adventure, there is a variety of food stalls offering local culinary specialties, as well as fire pits to gather round. For the more athletic, there is also a 300-metre squared ice rink. 

5. Würzburg Bach Days 2016, November 17th – 27th

The opening concert will take place in the Toscana Room in the Residenz in Würzburg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The beautiful city of Würzburg in northern Bavaria is the perfect setting for the Bach Days, which are held there every November. The festival showcases many of Bach’s best oratorios, symphony concertos, piano concertos and a song night.

Although this festival is about celebrating the life and works of the German composer, it’s not exclusively Bach. Music by Mendelssohn, Reger, Beethoven, and others will also be performed throughout the ten-day period. 

6. Munich's Tollwood Winter Festival, November 23rd – December 31st

View of Tollwood Winter Festival 2015. Photo: Tollwood

“Cowboy boots instead of winter boots” is the motto for this year’s Tollwood winter festival held in Munich's Theresienwiese, the huge area where Oktoberfest is held.

Canadian contemporary circus group Cirque Éloize are bringing their show “Saloon” to Europe for the first time: expect upbeat piano music, swinging saloon-doors, and stunning acrobatics, theatre and dance.

The festival, which this year concentrates on “sustainable mobility”, will try to educate visitors about the advantages of carpooling, public transport and cycling – there will even be a bicycle bell concert with 1,000 bells distributed throughout the audience.

The festival includes stalls and food kiosks, and hundreds of artistic performances. Over 70 percent of the events are free, but tickets for the others can be bought online.

7. Christmas Markets, from late November onward

Christmas market in Nuremberg. Photo: Gelinger / Pixabay

Also watch out for Germany’s Christmas markets, which will start to pop up throughout the country towards the end of the month. Most start during the last week of November, but if you can’t wait, Düsseldorf Christmas market is one of the first to open on November 17th.

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German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 



Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

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