Germany is known for its colorful festivals. It has more annual festivals than any other European country, with almost every village having its own summer fair, as well as a rich mixture of Christian and pagan festivals that have merged over the ages to fill the whole calendar.
The most famous German festival is undoubtedly the Oktoberfest in Munich, but Carnival and the Christmas fairs are other annual highlights, and take place all over the country. There's also a wealth of music festivals, ranging from opera seasons to open-air jazz and rock concerts.
January is a quiet month, though there are various events associated with the Carnival season, particularly the proclamation of the "Carnival King". Climax of the season comes in February or March, seven weeks before the date nominated for Easter. The Rhenish Karneval tends to have rather more gusto than its Bavarian counterpart, known as Fasching.
May marks the start of many of the summer festivals. Costume plays such as the Rattenfängerspiele in Hameln begin regular weekend performances, while there are classical concerts in historic buildings, notably the Schlosstheater in Schwetzingen. Every ten years, the famous Passionspiele in Oberammergau begins its run.
June sees important classical music festivals, with the Bach-Woche during the second weekend of the month in Lüneburg, the Händel-Festspiele in Göttingen and Halle, the Schumann-Woche in Zwickau and the Europäische Wochen in Passau, while there's a big festival of all kinds of music held under canvas in Freiburg .
December is the month of the Christmas market (variably known as Christkindelsmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt), which features stalls selling handmade goods of all kinds, from toys and leatherware to sweets and biscuits.