Montgolfiade Balloon Festival, February 8th-9th
Hot air balloons take flight over Tegernsee, near Bad Weissee in Bavaria. Photo: DPA.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane! Actually, it’s a hot air balloon floating above the gorgeous Bavarian Alps at this annual balloon riding festival.
The balloons will be launched near Bad Wiessee starting on February 2nd, but most of the events and family activities run throughout the course of the weekend. Highlights include a culinary market with regional food and drink, live music, and a laser show.
A German love story in Frankfurt, until February 16th
The Städel Museum in Frankfurt presents a special exhibition, ending this month. Photo: DPA.
This exhibition at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt is not a Valentine’s Day event per se, but it is an exploration of the love for Vincent Van Gogh among many modern artists in Germany.
The 120 paintings and works on paper that make up this “Making Van Gogh” exhibit include 50 key works by Van Gogh from various phases of his artistic life. There are extended hours for the exhibit before its departure. Consider visiting the gallery with your Valentine or simply enjoy some time alone with the array of beloved works.
A fairytale night in Dresden, February 7th
The Semper Opera Ball is broadcast on live television. Photo: DPA.
The annual Semper Opera Ball is the largest classical entertainment event in German-speaking Europe. The ball at Dresden’s famous Semper Opera House is attended by over 2,500 guests and 15,000 spectators outside, along with millions following along on live TV.
The event includes a five-hour grand opening gala with dancing by a group of debutantes and classical music and is attended by artists, politicians, journalists, and A-listers. Outside, a crowd battles the cold temperatures with a huge dance party.
Neigh the day away in Leonberg, February 7th-11th
A horse in Leonberg's town square takes part of a beloved tradition. Photo: DPA.
Saddle up and join an over 300-year old tradition in this lovely town outside of Stuttgart. This traditional Pferdmarkt, or horse market, began in 1684 and is the city’s biggest tradition.
The festival combines modern and historical elements. Visitors may observe traditional trading and sport and equine seminars but will also be entertained by a variety of leisure events and funfair surrounding a special market. A full calendar of events can be found here.
Carnival, various dates and locations
Karneval festivities take place in front of the Cologne Cathedral. Photo: DPA.
Known as Karneval in mid and northern Germany and Fasching in the South, these annual celebrations put splashes of vibrant colour against February’s grey skies.
There will be parades and marches with floats, costumes, and celebrating in the streets to mark the occasion. Karneval officially began on “elften elften um elf Uhr elf” (11th November at 11:11am), but will have its peak celebrations in February starting on Fat Thursday (Weiberfastnacht) on February 20th and leading up to Rosenmontag, the Monday before Ash Wednesday on February 24th.
If you can’t wait that long, Bremen also offers a special carnival featuring Samba dancing mask-clad performers, a light show and parade, and a special children’s carnival.
Dreaming on ice in Leipzig
Leipzig's Augustusplatz boasts a large ferris wheel during the annual Eistraum. Photo: DPA.
The Leipziger Eistraum is an annual event on Augustusplatz drawing families and enthusiastic ice skaters alike. There are a variety of rinks set up in the heart of the city’s main square and a calendar of events, including special events for children.
For breaks between loops around the ice, there will be a ferris wheel and a 36 metre “winter slide,” as well as an Après-IceParty house with original alpine wood paneling and drinks and snacks. The Eistraum is open daily from 10am to 10pm. Entry to the festival is free of charge.
Berlin’s international film festival
A sign for the Berlinale hangs near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Photo: DPA.
Known as the Berlinale, Berlin’s world famous film festival will feature premieres ranging from indie films to future blockbusters from around the world. British film and theatre actor Jeremy Irons will be the judge of this year’s line-up, leading an international jury in deciding which films and actors will take home the coveted Golden Bear and Silver Bear awards.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the event and is sure to be as outstanding as ever. The festival will take place from February 20th-March 1st this year. This year the Berlinale will also be “going Kiez,” highlighting theatres in Berlin’s various Kieze, or neighborhoods around the city. Tickets go on sale February 17th.