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10 unmissable events in Germany this November

From modern music and dance festivals to a traditional horse-led procession recognised by UNESCO as a cultural gem, here are the top events all around Germany you'll want to catch this November.

10 unmissable events in Germany this November
Winterdom in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Georg Wendt

Hamburger Winterdom, November 4th -December 4th

Over 230 different attractions make up this magical festival, the largest in northern Germany which has taken place over 700 years strong. Just as exciting as the flashy carnival activities is the wide variety of food ranging from Bratwurst and Currywurst to traditional dishes, including the Schmalzkuchen, or “lard cake,” which is similar to a donut but smaller and square-shaped.

Berlin Jazz Festival, November 3rd – 6th

Starting at the beginning of November, the capital comes alive with the sound of saxophones, xylophones, trombones and many other instruments as part of its long-running music festival which attracts artists from all over the world. The festival, one of the oldest of its kind in Europe, features classic compositions and daring new styles, and takes place at several music venues around the city. Tickets sell out fast but are still available for a number of events.

Tanzfestival RM, Rhein-Mein region, October 27th-November 13th

Featuring contemporary dance performances from both the Frankfurt-Main region and abroad, the Tanzfestival RM brings together some of the most exciting new works. Whether stylish ice skating, fast-paced acrobatics or modern takes on classic ballet compositions from the Hessisches Staatsballet, this festival is a feast for the eyes – and also deals with topics for deeper contemplation, ranging from gender identity to our relationship to tradition. 

Leonhardifahrt, November 7th in Bad Tölz

Riders decked out in traditional dress on November 6th, 2021 for the Leonhardifahrt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Every year on November 6th (or 7th when the day falls on a Sunday) thousands of people gather in the streets and alleys of Bavarian Bad Tölz amid a soundscape of clattering hooves and cheerful voices. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage tradition, the Leonhardifahrt (Leonhardi ride) describes one of the most beautiful and oldest horse pilgrimages in Germany. The ride starts with a blessing at 9am and finishes by 4pm along the banks of the Isar River.

Diwali events throughout November

While Diwali, the famous festival of lights, took place the last week of October, the bulk of events to celebrate it among Germany’s growing Indian community are in November. They range from Bollywood-inspired dance performances, traditional music shows and all-you-can-eat feasts with properly spicy food. Here’s our list of the Diwali events around Deutschland not to be missed.

READ ALSO: Indians in Germany: Who are they and where do they live?

Plaza Culinaria, November 12th to 14th, Freiburg

Calling all foodies in southern Germany: whether you are working in the culinary industry or simply like to sample a wide variety of cuisines, this giant food fair and festival is not to be missed. It features all sorts of kitchen products, appliances and of course culinary creations of all sorts, savoury and sweet, laid out to try out for the €12.50 cost of admission.

Carnival kick off in Cologne, November 11th

On the 11th day of the 11th month, and promptly at 11:11 am, Carnival season kicks off. Referred to by locals as the “fifth season of the year”, the sprawling parade and parties don’t take place until February. But this special day is also marked by costume-clad revellers in Cologne’s old town. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about celebrating Carnival in Germany

Christmas Markets

Throughout the last two holiday seasons, most of Germany’s world-famous Weihnachtsmärkte were closed or only minimally operating. But this year they’re back in full swing, complete with Glühwein, an array of sweets and shops and festive music. While the majority open on November 21st or later, a few are eager to get a head start the weekend following Halloween.

Visitors at a Christmas market in Gießen, Hesse in November 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nadine Weigel

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, ongoing throughout November

The gardens of Ludwigsburg Castle are home to a unique, hidden treasure: the world’s largest pumpkin exhibition. It may sound like a niche market, but even those who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about pumpkins can enjoy the towering sculptures made from 450,000 pumpkins of 6000 varieties. Artists bring to life thousands of pumpkins, with puss in boots, Medusa and a unicorn among many others transforming the park into a fairytale pumpkin kingdom.

Münchner Bücherschau, November 14th – December 4th

The Frankfurt Book Fair might be Germany’s most well-known literary festival and trade fair but if you missed it, the 63rd annual Münchner Bücherschau at Munich’s Literaturhaus also boasts a sprawling selection of new literary and non-fiction works as well as talks and signings by authors themselves. Particularly notable is the number of new works and events for kids and families. 

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How Cologne is preparing for the start of Carnival on Friday

Dressing up, singing, and drinking: On Friday, countless Jecken (revelers) in Cologne will once again celebrate the start of the Carnival session.

How Cologne is preparing for the start of Carnival on Friday

Dubbed Germany’s “fifth season” by locals, the event starts every year on November 11th at 11:11 am, and typically stretches into February or March, when colourful parades spill into the streets.

Carnival stronghold Cologne in particular is preparing for the onslaught of tens of thousands of people who will flock to its Altstadt (old town), and especially to the student quarter, starting early Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: 10 unmissable events in Germany this November

“Far too many people want to celebrate in far too small a space,” city director Andrea Blome told DPA. “We can’t stop anyone from coming to Cologne now.” 

More security this year

In the popular Kwartier Latäng student quarter, there have been regular bouts of drinking by young partygoers in the past, who crowded into a confined space, leaving litter everywhere and publicly peeing on the corners of buildings. 

Google Maps shows the location of the so-called Kwartier Latäng part of Cologne.

But with a new security plan, the city and police hope to keep the situation under control.

Several checkpoints and road closures have been set up to secure the safety of the revelers and relieve the burden on worried residents, according to Blome. Visitors will only be able to enter the closed-off area around Zülpicher Straße via a single access point. 

On Friday, Cologne is also set to send a total of 150 employees from the Ordnungsamt (public order office) onto the streets, who will be supported by 520 private security guards. 

A glass ban will again apply in the celebration zones, and several hundred toilets will be set up at the hotspots, “which nevertheless will probably not be used by all visitors,” Blome predicted.

READ ALSO: 10 words you need to know at Cologne’s Carnival

Up to 1,100 police officers are expected to be on duty on the day – about 200 fewer than last year, said head of operations Rüdiger Fink. But he expected to keep the situation “under control with a new security plan.”

What to expect

On Cologne’s Heumarkt, there will be a stage program all day with bands such as the Bläck Fööss, the Paveiern and Brings. 

Google Maps shows Cologne’s Heumarkt along the Rhine River.

According to the Willi Ostermann Society, about 10,000 tickets were sold in advance for the event, which will be aired by German WDR for several hours.

Meanwhile, in Düsseldorf, the day will start at 11:11 a.m. with the “Hoppeditz Awakening” in front of City Hall. 

According to a spokesman, the police will be adequately prepared for the start of the season, with a particular focus on the Altstadt, where there will certainly be celebrations.

“But 11.11. is a very different event here in Düsseldorf than in Cologne,” he said, referring to a more orderly start and fewer guests.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about celebrating Carnival in Germany