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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.