SHARE
COPY LINK

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Here’s how to make the most of Thanksgiving in Germany

If Turkey-day was your most beloved holiday back Stateside, you might be feeling a bit blue knowing that it’s not exactly a thing in Deutschland. But we’re here to help make those cranberry sauce-soaked, gravy-covered dreams come true.

Here's how to make the most of Thanksgiving in Germany
Photo: Depositphotos

1. Track down a turkey – or choose not to

As you may have noticed, there aren’t exactly rows of frozen turkeys on offer in German supermarkets as in the US come November. But there are still options if you’re set on noshing on some slowly roasted North American fowl.
 
High-end department stores, like KaDeWe in Berlin, often provide the pricey opportunity to scoop up a frozen turkey, but you can also try calling up a local butcher to order one in advance.
 
An alternative is to settle for a whole chicken or goose – much more common in grocery stores – or simply pick up part of a turkey, called Pute or Truthahn in German.
 
2. Find food substitutes
 
Cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment on Thanksgiving. Photo: Deposit Photos.
 
As with turkey, sometimes you can’t always find the right ingredients you need for American fare. Take cornbread, for example. The most important component is cornmeal, but this doesn’t really exist in German cuisine. The best substitute that this American has found is called Maisgrieß – and it always turns out delicious.
 
On the other hand, thanks to globalization there are ever more North American products on offer in German supermarkets, especially Edeka, Lidl and Kaisers, many of which often have small ‘American’ sections.
 
I’ve spotted cranberries in Kaisers for the past several years, and even once in Aldi. But a substitute can also be Preiselbeeren, known as lingonberries or cowberries in English. They have a similar taste to cranberries and can be found already jarred as a jam or preserves in many German supermarkets.
 
3. Find the right equipment
 
Tracking down a proper pie dish can be another challenge since apparently this treat is not so common in Germany.
 
For future reference, if you love making pies, it’s probably a good idea to have an American bring a pie dish along on their next visit – or pick one up yourself when you’re in the US.
 
But when you can’t get your hands on one in time, try getting creative with a tart or torte pan, or Tortenbodenform.
 
 
4. Learn to convert into metric measurements
 
If you’re looking to use grandma’s traditional cornbread stuffing recipe, but realize you have no clue how to measure out the right proportions using the metric system, don’t worry.
 
There are plenty of online converters to do the hard work for you – like the one on Allrecipes.com.

And if you’re really in doubt, try using a similar recipe by a British website instead (which like the BBC tend to have grams and ounces).

5. Go to an already planned Thanksgiving dinner
 
 

Friends. Food. American Football. Happy thanksgiving y'all! #thanksgiving #nfl #american #dinner #friends

A photo posted by Belushi's Bars (@belushis) on Nov 26, 2015 at 9:59am PST

 
If you decide to just skip the hassle of tracking down ingredients through multiple stores, there may be at least a couple pre-arranged Thanksgiving events in your area – even some with (American) football on offer. Take a look at any local American bars, hotels or restaurants to see what they have planned.
 
Here’s a list of some to consider, and some may require reservations. Some also take place over the weekend, and one belated celebration in Cologne occurs on December 7th. 
 
Berlin

Hard Rock Cafe Thanksgiving lunch celebration

November 28th, starts at 12 pm 

Kurfürstendamm 224 

Thanksgiving cooking course at Kochwerk

November 28th, from 6 pm to 10 pm

Roelckerstraße 105

Thanksgiving Buffet at Dasclubhaus

November 28th, from 6:30 pm to 10 pm

Roedernstraße 16

Hamburg

The American Club’s Thanksgiving Dinner

November 28th, from 6:30-10:30 pm

Bugenhagenstraße 8

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at Das Auswanderermuseum BallinStadt Hamburg

November 28th, from 6:30-11pm

Veddeler Bogen 2

Frankfurt/Hesse

Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Hotel Hessischer Hof

November 28th, from 6:30 pm

Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 40

American Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet at Champions

November 28th, from 6:30-11:30 pm

Hamburger Allee 2

Thanksgiving at Schloss Vollrads

November 28th, from 6 pm

Vollradser Allee

65375 Oestrich-Winkel / Winkel

Munich

Thanksgiving Dinner and American Football at The Kennedy’s

November 28th, from 5 pm

Sendlinger-Tor-Platz 11

Friday Thanksgiving Dinner at Meatingraum

November 29th, from 7pm to 10 pm 

Gollierstraße 38

Thanksgiving Buffet at Tivoli Restaurant

November 28th, from 6 to 9 pm

Tucherpark 7

Cologne

Sunday Thanksgiving Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe

December 1st. Menu available from 12 pm – 10 pm

Gürzenichstraße 8

Belated Thanksgiving Dinner at Restaurant Mederanno

December 7th, from 7 to 10 pm

Plectrudengasse/Lichhof 12

Article updated November 27th, 2019.

Member comments

  1. As I’m A Canadian Living in Germany our Thanksgiving is usually in October. But we decided to have a Thanksgiving this weekend with friends from Nuremberg. (We are in Würzburg) as a test for Christmas when our boys are here. I found fresh cranberries to make sauce and remembered how to make pie crust for a cherry pie. 10lb turkey (4kgs) from REAL and hopefully all good lol!

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

DISCOVER GERMANY

10 unmissable events in Germany this October

From dazzling light shows to quirky food festivals, October is a jam-packed month in Germany. Here are some of the events you won't want to miss.

10 unmissable events in Germany this October

Oktoberfest, Munich Teresienwiese, September 17th – October 3rd

As possibly the world’s most famous beer festival, Oktoberfest needs no introduction – and for those who didn’t make it to Bavaria in September, there are still a few days left to catch it at the start of the month.

If you make it on the last bank holiday Monday, you can catch an especially rowdy party atmosphere as professional rifle shooters mark the end of the fest. But any other day at the Wiesn is an experience to remember, with live music and singing in all the tents, delicious Bavarian beer and a gigantic funfair for the most adventurous visitors.

And for those who can’t make it down to Bavaria at short notice, the Hofbräuhaus beer halls around the country celebrate their own mini-Oktoberfests with dancing, singing, live music and of course a crisp litre or two of Hofbräu. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Germany’s Oktoberfest

German Unity Day Celebrations, Erfurt Old Town, October 1st – 3rd 

Marking the day when West and East Germany were formally reunited back in 1990 – a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall – Tag der Einheit (Unity Day) is a truly special bank holiday in Germany. 

Each year, a different German city takes it in turn to host the annual Bürgerfest (citizen’s festival) in honour of Germany’s national day. This year, the Thuringian capital of Erfurt will be putting on an action-packed programme of political and cultural events all weekend. To start with, Germany’s five constitutional bodies – the Bundestag, Bundesrat, Federal President, Federal Government and Federal Constitutional Court – will be represented with large information stands on the theme of “Experiencing Politics”. And for those less keen to take a deep dive into the workings of government, each of the 16 states will have the best of their culture and cuisine on display. 

There’ll also be live concerts, performances and a light installation representing German reunification over the weekend, making a visit to scenic Erfurt well worth it. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How October 3rd became Germany’s national holiday

Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart, September 23rd – October 9th 

If you want to experience big folk festival but want to steer clear of the tourist crowd in Munich, look no further than Oktoberfest’s Swabian sister, the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart. 

First launched in 1818, the festival has become a mainstay of the autumn calendar in Baden-Württemberg, and it’s an event that is fiercely proud of its Swabian roots. If you go, you can sample some of the best local beers and wines around, as well as other traditional Swabian delicacies. You can also go on rollercoasters and other fairground rides, hear trumpeting Oompah bands and get dizzy on the world’s largest mobile Ferris wheel. 

Weimar Onion Market, October 7th – 9th

Nobody can say that Germans don’t make the most of their seasonal produce – and Weimar’s historic Zwiebelmarkt (onion market) is no exception.

The Zwiebelmarkt tradition dates back as early as the 15th century, when traders would come to the bustling town of Weimar to sell their wares. Over the years, the onion market days became a major social event where locals would also gather to eat, drink and barter. These days, you’ll still find all things onion-related at the onion market, from arts and crafts to culinary treats. But there’s also a funfair, live music, beer tents and family friendly activities to boot.

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, August 26th – December 4th

If you’re a fan of all things autumnal, look no further than Ludwigsburg Palace, which becomes home to the world’s largest pumpkin exhibition each year from late August to early December. 

It may sound novel, but a walk around the grounds of the palace will show you that in Ludwigsburg, the pumpkin artists certainly don’t do things by halves. Not only can you see incredible sculptures made from around 450,000 pumpkins in total, but you’ll also see a jaw-dropping 600 different varieties of pumpkin there as well. And if you work up an appetite while soaking up the exhibition, you can also sample some delicious pumpkin-based dishes, from soup to Maultaschen.

Pumpkin exhibition Ludwigsburg

Balu and Mowgli from the Jungle Book at the Ludwigsburg pumpkin exhibition. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Filmfest Hamburg, 29th September – October 8

Though it tends to get overshadowed by the show-stopper Berlinale, film buffs who can’t wait until February will enjoy a trip to its Hanseatic sibling: Filmfest Hamburg.

Running throughout the first week of October, the Filmfest brings together the best of contemporary cinema from around the world at a range of venues around the city. This year, the festival is also celebrating its 30th anniversary, so there’s bound to be a truly special atmosphere at the event. 

You can find the full programme in English here.

Berlin Festival of Lights, October 7th – 16th

Each year in the middle of August, the familiar sights of the German capital are bathed in colourful light and transformed each evening into weird and wonderful artistic creations.

This year, the theme of the world famous light festival is “Visions of the Future” as artists explore the question: What will our future look like?

The fruits of their labours can be seen around the city each evening from 7-11pm, after it gets dark. Organisers says there will be a big focus on sculptures this year – as well as the usual large installations – as they seek to reduce their electricity use by 75 percent. 

Berlin cathedral at Festival of Lights 2018

Berlin cathedral lit up in colourful lights at the 2018 Festival of Lights. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Kalaene

Frankfurt Book Fair, October 19th – 23rd 

The world’s largest book fair is returning to Frankfurt this October with the theme of “translation”, exploring the idea of translating ideas into new languages, mediums and contexts.

Alongside the sprawling trade fair and conference, there will also be a packed schedule of literary events where people can hear reading and talks by popular authors. You can find out all about the exhibitors at the book fair this year and what’s on at the conference in English on the Frankfurt Book Fair website

Deutsches Weinlesefest, September 23rd – October 10th 

The picturesque wine-growing regions of western Germany hold wine festivals throughout the year, but the Wine Harvest Festival – or Weinlesefest – is by far one of the biggest.

Fittingly enough, the festival is held in Neustadt an der Weinstraße, a pretty little town located along the famous Wine Route. For the few weeks of the festival, this sleepy little town hosts an enormous wine parade and around 100,000 wine-loving visitors. Head there on the 7th to see the crowning of this year’s Palatinate Wine Queen and sample some Rhineland wines out of a dubbeglas, a big glass that holds a whopping 50cl of wine. As always, drink responsibly! 

READ ALSO: 10 ways to enjoy autumn like a true German

Halloween at Frankenstein’s Castle, October 21st – November 6th 

If the name of Frankenstein’s Castle sounds familiar to you, it should do: apparently, Mary Shelley, the author of the novel Frankenstein, could well have been inspired by the castle when she visited the nearby town of Gernsheim in 1814. 

These days, however, the castle is known for something slightly different: in 1978, American airmen set up an annual Halloween festival at the castle, and the spooky tradition has continued to this day.

Halloween at Frankenstein Castle

A blood-curdling character at Frankenstein Castle’s Halloween Festival in 2018. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Andreas Arnold

If you want to enjoy what’s been described as one of the most spectacular Halloween experiences in the world, it’s well worth booking tickets to go up to the castle in late October. In the weeks around Halloween, the 1000-year-old castle is transformed in a phantasmagoria of monsters and evil beings lurking in the shadows.

Every year, the organisers of the festivals pull yet another technical trick out of their sleeve to ensure that visitors are more spooked than ever. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but if you think you can handle the adrenaline, it’s bound to be an action-packed night. 

READ ALSO: What are Germany’s 8 spookiest places?

SHOW COMMENTS