Thomas Boys choir in Leipzig


© copyright: Peter Hirth

Concerts at Wartburg Castle


MDR Christiane Höhne

One thing the Cultural Heart of Germany is not short of: inspiring events, including music, art and big old town festivals – here’s our pick of the best in Saxony and Thuringia.

Concert at Bach's wedding church in Dornheim - Roland Wehking

Thuringian Bach Festival, April/May

Annual international three-week festival of concerts in historic Bach sites all across Thuringia. The programme also features classical concerts, oratorios and concerts in the private homes of professional and hobby musicians.

Dixieland Festival Dresden, May

International old-time swing festival with acts from around the world. Special highlight: Dresden's unique fleet of paddle steamers sailing down the Elbe river in a festive and very musical parade.

Dixieland Festival Dresden - © Hendrik Meyer
Liszt House in Weimar - Roland Wehking

Liszt Biennale, June

Held every second year in various Thuringian towns and venues. Alongside works of the composer and pianist Franz Liszt, a “superstar” of the 19th century music scene, the programme features works of contemporaries and friends.

Ekhof Festival, June-August

Small but unique opera festival in Europe’s oldest preserved baroque theatre in Gotha's Friedenstein Palace, with original, hand-worked stage machinery from the late 17th century.

Ekhof Theatre - Barbara Neumann
Bachfestival Leipzig - LTM © PK Fotografie

Bach Festival Leipzig, June

Annual festival in the city where Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked from 1723 until his death, drawing music lovers from all over the world.

Annaberger Kät, June

Largest folk festival in the Ore Mountains, taking place in Annaberg-Buchholz. One of the oldest folk festivals in Germany, dating back to 1520, featuring lots of shows and fairground rides.

Annaberger Kät - © Dirk Rückschloß / BUR Werbeagentur
Dresden`s Palaces Night - © Daniel Clarke

Night of the Palaces, July

Open air event set in the grounds of Dresden's three palaces along the Elbe river: Around 400 artists perform on various stages in more than 80 concerts, covering a wide variety of music, ranging from jazz to classical and rock. Very atmospheric occasion with illuminations, facade projections and a fire work.

Old Town Festival Görlitz, August

For three summer days each summer, the historic city centre of Görlitz including a neighbourhood in Zgorzelec in Poland just across the Neisse river become one big stage for historic scenes, music, food, drink and lots of fun.

Görlitz old town festival - © Nikolai Schmidt ///
Weimar Kunstfest - Stephan Lehmann / Kunstfest Weimar GmbH

Kunstfest Weimar, August

Contemporary art and music festival featuring graphic art, performances, ballet, concerts, film projects and literature with the whole town of Weimar as a stage.

ACHAVA Festival, September

Cross-nation, cross-culture festival with a Hebrew name in Erfurt and other towns in Thuringia. The programme features concerts, special exhibitions, guided tours and discussions focusing on creating a dialogue between different cultures and religions.

Performance of A-WA-Yemen from Tel Aviv - Stefan Kranz / Achava e.V.
Radebeul wine festival - © André Wirsig

Wine festivals in Meissen and Radebeul, September

Hugely atmospheric occasions in historic surroundings with open-air food, drink and music. Visitors can enjoy great Saxon wines, cultivated in the vineyards of the Saxon Wine Route.

Weimar Onion Market, October

Thuringia’s biggest town fair dates back to 1653 and features food and drink stalls as well as live bands on various stages throughout the town centre. Famous local products: Traditional onion cake and decorative onion braids.

Onion Market in Weimar - Maik Schuck
Meißen Christmas market - © Daniel Bahrmann

Christmas Markets, from late November

From late November onwards: Enchanting Christmas markets in towns and cities as well as palaces and castles all over Saxony and Thuringia. Many stalls sell traditional, regional handicraft and Christmas decorations. Special events: Miners Parades in former mining towns such as Annaberg-Buchholz.

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Cultural Heart of Germany