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9 Events not to miss throughout Germany in October 2018

From Berlin’s photography scene to pumpkin and onion produce festivals, we have taken a look at the diverse range of events taking place across Germany this October. Here are some of our top picks.

9 Events not to miss throughout Germany in October 2018
Celebrations for Tag der Deutschen Einheit in 2016, Berlin. Photo: DPA

Tag der Deutschen Einheit, Berlin, October 1st – 3rd

October 3rd has been celebrated as the day of German Unity for 28 years. This year, Berlin will host the official celebrations with a three day festival.

The celebrations will centre around the Brandenburg Gate and Straße des 17. Juni and include family events, debates, historical remembrance and music. An estimated one million visitors will pour into the festival, which will run from 2pm until midnight on all three days.

A big concert and firework display will mark the end of the festival on the evening of October 3rd. You are even able to vote online for which fireworks should be set off when, in an attempt to show the power and importance of democracy.

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, From now until November 4th

Prizes are awarded for the biggest pumpkins in Germany. Photo: DPA

Set in the beautiful grounds of Ludwigsburg Palace, this is the largest Pumpkin Festival in the world. It is not only a festival for children, but for adults too, with gourmet food and drinks (all with pumpkin as an ingredient, of course) alongside children’s entertainment and activities such as storytelling and a Halloween carving tent.

There are more than 450,000 pumpkins on display at the festival alongside an extended programme of events. Sadly the pumpkin canoe regatta has already taken place, but there is still much more to come throughout October including the all important pumpkin weigh offs and and giant pumpkin carving competitions.

Stadt Land Food Festival, Berlin, October 1st – 7th

A must-attend for all foodies, this festival is a celebration of creative cuisine, focusing on artisanal food production. The festival aims to make a statement about how we can lead our lives more fairly and sustainably through food “Good food for everyone! For consumers, for producers, for the environment.”

On Saturday and Sunday,over 150 producers from all over Europe will set up stands for a food market – including both street food and produce such as local Brandenburg fruit and vegetables, Puglian tomatoes and Slovenian wine. Throughout the week there are various other events, including workshops on topics including honey, bread and of course Wurst.

Frankfurt Book Fair, October 10th – 14th

There is an endless supply of books at the world's largest book trade fair. Photo: DPA

The perfect match for Germany’s book lovers, the Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest book trade fair. The first three days of the festival are only open to those in the business, but the weekend at the end of the festival is open to the public and is well worth a visit.

The first book fair in Frankfurt was held in 1454, and it remains to this day one of the most significant book fairs in the world. Along with the fair, there will be a book festival throughout the city, including readings and poetry slams at venues such as the English Theatre.

Weimar Onion Festival (Zwiebelmarkt), October 12th – 14th

Zwiebelzöpfe are sold during last year's festival. Photo: DPA

This year marks the  the 365th edition of the Weimar Zwiebelmarkt, the oldest folk festival in Thürigen. There are about 600 stalls selling various onion related wares, alongside a whole programme of music and events.

Highlights of the festival include trying the special onion cake, the crowning of the Zwiebelmarkt Queen, and the display and sale of Zwiebelzöpfe, braids made of onions and decorated with flowers. On the Saturday of the festival there is even a city run including a children’s race, a 10km race and a half marathon. The route runs right through – not surprisingly – the middle of the Zwiebelmarkt.

Heinrich Schütz Music Festival, October 5th – 14th

The Heinrich Schütz Haus in Weißenfels. Photo: DPA

A must for all classical music lovers is this festival which spans three states – Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thürigen – in honour of the Henrich Schütz. He is considered the most important German composer of the early Baroque period and has been described as the father of modern German music.

Between the opening concert in Weißenfels on October 5th, and the final concert in Dresden on October 14th, there are almost 40 different performances which you can attend, all celebrating German Baroque music. You can find tickets here.

European Month of Photography, Berlin, September 28th – October 31st

A press conference takes place for the 2018 festival in front of works by Paolo Roversi – part of the exhibition 'Between Art & Fashion. Photographs from the Collection of Carla Sozzan' in the Museum for Photography, Berlin. Photo: DPA

As the weather gets a bit colder, there’s no better way to spend a weekend or an evening than in the warmth of a gallery. Germany’s largest photography festival is back in Berlin for the 8th time this October with over 120 locations, 300 events and 500 artists.

The festival will open at C/O Berlin at Amerika Haus, which will also be the home of two major exhibitions throughout the month: Back to the Future. The 19th Century in the 21st Century, and Nicholas Nixon. Life Work.

The festival will also include talks from artists, live performances and screenings, and workshops for both adults and children. You can see the programme of events here.

German Grape Harvest Festival, Neustadt, October 2nd – 15th

The Neustadt parade is the largest wine parade in the world. Photo: DPA

This festival takes places at the heart of the German wine route on the first and second weekends of October every year. It is the second largest wine festival in the world.

The main attraction of the festival is the winemakers parade which first wound its way around the streets of Neustadt in 1909. Now, 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the parade which will also see the celebration of the crowning of a new Palatinate wine queen and a new German wine queen.

Through its vast size and extended programme, the Neustadt wine festival shows that Germany takes wine, not just beer, seriously.

Windsurf World Cup, Sylt, September 29th – October 8th

A windy day at last year's World Cup in Sylt. Photo: DPA

One advantage of the colder climate now in Germany: lots of wind. This is the only place in Germany where professional windsurfers compete and it is well worth the trip up north. Brandenburg Beach on the idyllic island of Sylt in Schleswig-Holstein will play host, not only to fierce competition in four windsurfing categories (wave, freestyle foil and slalom), but to other entertainment.

Throughout the competitions there will be stalls selling food and crafts, and one of the highlights of the programme are the nightly after-surf parties in the event marquee with numerous DJs lined up for the week.

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For members


Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?

Unlike in EU countries such as Portugal or Spain, Germany does not have a visa specifically for pensioners. Yet applying to live in the Bundesrepublik post-retirement is not difficult if you follow these steps.

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?
Two pensioners enjoying a quiet moment in Dresden in August 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Due to its quality of life, financial security and health care, Germany snagged the number 10 spot in the 2020 Global Retirement Index. So just how easy is it to plant roots in Deutschland after your retirement?

Applying for a residency permit

As with any non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) national looking to stay in Germany for longer than a 90-day period, retirees will need to apply for a general resident’s permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) under which it will be possible to select retirement as a category. 

READ ALSO: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

This is the same permit for those looking to work and study in Germany – but if you would like to do either after receiving a residency permit, you will need to explicitly change the category of the visa.

Applicants from certain third countries (such as the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Canada, and New Zealand) can first come to Germany on a normal tourist visa, and then apply for a residency permit when in the country. 

However, for anyone looking to spend their later years in Germany, it’s still advisable to apply at their home country’s consulate at least three months in advance to avoid any problems while in Germany.

Retirement visas still aren’t as common as employment visas, for example, so there could be a longer processing time. 

What do you need to retire in Germany?

To apply for a retirement visa, you’ll need proof of sufficient savings (through pensions, savings and investments) as well as a valid German health insurance. 

If you have previously worked in Germany for at least five years, you could qualify for Pensioner’s Health Insurance. Otherwise you’ll need to apply for one of the country’s many private health insurance plans. 

Take note, though, that not all are automatically accepted by the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners office), so this is something you’ll need to inquire about before purchasing a plan. 

READ ALSO: The perks of private health insurance for expats in Germany

The decision is still at the discretion of German authorities, and your case could be made stronger for various reasons, such as if you’re joining a family member or are married to a German. Initially retirement visas are usually given out for a year, with the possibility of renewal. 

Once you’ve lived in Germany for at least five full years, you can apply for a permanent residency permit, or a Niederlassungserlaubnis. To receive this, you will have to show at least a basic knowledge of the German language and culture.

READ ALSO: How to secure permanent residency in Germany

Taxation as a pensioner

In the Bundesrepublik, pensions are still listed as taxable income, meaning that you could be paying a hefty amount on the pension from your home country. But this is likely to less in the coming years.

Tax is owed when a pensioner’s total income exceeds the basic tax-free allowance of €9,186 per year, or €764 per month. From 2020 the annual taxable income for pensioners will increase by one percent until 2040 when a full 100 percent of pensions will be taxable.

American retirees in Germany will also still have to file US income taxes, even if they don’t owe any taxes back in the States. 

In the last few years there has been a push around Germany to raise the pension age to 69, up from 65-67, in light of rising lifespans.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could people in Germany still be working until the age of 68?