Germany loves music of all kinds and has a great many festivals. There are some interesting folk festivals in Germany. Sometimes it is folk music alone at other times there are groups who play crossovers between different genres. Folk can easily mix and blend with jazz or heavy metal for instance. At the top 8 best German folk festivals you can sample the music of some of these innovators too.
Ingelheim am Rhein has been the home of a folk festival for 50 years. It is a short drive from Frankfurt airport. It is known as the Eurofolk Festival and runs for four days in June. Don’t confuse it with the Eurofolk Scout troop event which is something else entirely and changes country every year. Ingelheim is an attractive town on the banks of the Rhine. The area has connections to Charlemagne. A gold coin with his image was found there. The Eurofolk Festival is held on the Burgkirche fairground. It has a hippy following.
Rudolstadt is one of the oldest and best folk festivals in Germany. Rudolstadt is in the Thuringian province. The town is built on the River Saale in a wide valley alongside woodland. Heidecksburg Castle is on a hill above the old town. The festival started in 1955 with a German Folk Dance festival. Gradually more dance and folklore events were added, and groups started to visit from Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the festival changed its character and developed into a world music festival. Often there are more musicians than audience in the town. It is a fabulous festival full of innovation and daring experiments. It brings together artists from around 40 countries. Every year the festival focuses on a different country. There are always workshops and master classes as well as concerts so visitors can deepen their knowledge of the music of the country that is being celebrated that particular year.
The Irish Folk Festival has the slogan “Come as a visitor leave as a friend”. Unlike most other festivals it does not have a specific location and tours from city to city, taking in most of the major ones in Germany. So, you might get lucky and see one of their gigs. The tour has been going on for 49 years!
The spa town of Bad Wünnenberg in North Rhine Westphalia has an interesting festival known as Folk am Turm. Its initial aim was to improve the quality of life of those staying at the spa, but it has now become a festival of international interest. The concerts are housed in beautiful buildings. The town also has former asylum seekers who have found a new home there. The buildings used in the festival include the 18th century Spanckenhof, a 17th century storehouse, the baroque church of St Anthony, a chapel, a restored watchtower which holds concerts known as Folk at the Tower, an art school, the spa gardens and a shooting hall. The festival these days seems to spread across the summer rather than be concentrated into a few days. Consult their programme and maybe combine a nice concert with a hotel stay with spa treatments.
Festival Wassermusik takes place from July to August on the roof terrace of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Every year there is a theme and this year it is the Mississippi River. The music is often a mix of genres, jazz, blues, folk, etcetera. You could combine the festival with a longer stay in Berlin which always has so much to see and do.
Wacken Open Air has been running since 1990. The festival is at the end of July to early August in the small village of Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein in the North. It is a huge heavy metal festival but covers all styles and subgenres so there will always be some medieval and mystic rock/folk included in the line-up. Celtic music has a big following in Germany and Celtic Rock is likely to feature.
The Superbloom Festival takes place in Munich’s Olympiapark which was built for the Olympics. It is in early September and is a mixed genre event with lots of concerts over one weekend. Apart from folk it features pop, hip-hop, indie and jazz.
Bremen in the north-east of Germany is often considered the home of the folk festival. It is a city with a fairy-tale look. Indeed, the Musicians of Bremen (who were all animals) is one of the most famous stories by the Brothers Grimm. Bremen has the Freimarkt Fair which lasts for seventeen days from mid-October to early November. The citizens of Bremen claim it is the oldest festival in Germany. It has four million visitors. The highlights of it include live music, drinking and dancing in the historical town square.