Germans love party, and kick up their heels at everything from pagan harvest romps to black tie opera galas. The Winter Carnival season occurs throughout Germany, with big cities such as Cologne (Köln), Munich and Mainz erupting into commotion just before Ash Wednesday.
Germany 's rich musical heritage is showcased in a plethora of festivals. Some towns concentrate on a particular composer, such as the Thuringian Bach Festival in March or the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth each July, whereas others focus on a particular style. The jazz festivals in Stuttgart and Berlin are lively and popular. Autumn is a great time for harvest-inspired mayhem, especially in the Rhineland, where the Rhine in Flames frolics feature barges laden with fireworks. Mention must be made of Oktoberfest, Munich's annual lager frenzy, but it's a bit like being stuck in a nightmarish soccer crowd and is more an example of tourism at its lowest ebb than a display of German culture. Christmas fairs are embraced wholeheartedly by German families; they occur in Munich, Nuremberg, Lübeck, Berlin, Münster and Heidelberg, amongst other places.