When to Go

After countless celebrations of the Mandelblüten (blossoming of the almond trees) along the Wine Road in March, the wine festival season picks up in May and continues through October. The landscape alters dramatically in May as the vines' tender shoots and leaves begin to appear, and as the wine harvest progresses in September and October, foliage takes on reddish-golden hues.


Attending a wine festival is a fun and memorable part of any vacation in wine country. You can sample local food and wine inexpensively, and meet winegrowers at their stands without making an appointment. Wine, Sekt (sparkling wine), and Weinschorlen (wine spritzers) flow freely at festivals all over the region, from tiny villages to the larger towns. The bigger events often involve live music, parades, fireworks, and rides. See www.germanwines.de for an events calendar with an up-to-date overview of the many smaller, local wine festivals that take place in virtually every village.

Brezelfest. Beer and pretzels are central to this annual six-day celebration held in Speyer over the second weekend in July. Other highlights include carnival rides and games, fireworks, and a grand parade. Festpl., Speyer, Rheinland-Pfalz, 67346. www.brezelfest-speyer.de.

Deidesheim Weinkerwe. For 10 days in August, the wine town of Deidesheim fills up with stalls where visitors can sample local wines and hearty cuisine. Deidesheim's wineries also stay open late, offering live entertainment most nights during the festival. Marktpl., Deidesheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, 67146.

Deutsches Weinlesefest. In Neustadt, the German Wine Queen is crowned during this 10-day wine festival in early October. The festival includes wine tastings, the largest wine festival parade in Germany, and a huge fireworks display on the final night. Various locations including the Saalbau, Heztelpl., and Bahnhofsvorpl., Neustadt, Rheinland-Pfalz, 67433. www.neustadt.eu/.

Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt. The Pfalz is home to the world's largest wine festival, held in Bad Dürkheim in mid-September in front of the world's largest wine barrel. Some 400,000 pounds of sausage are consumed during eight days of merrymaking. Sankt-Michaels-Allee 1, Bad Dürkheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, 67098. www.duerkheimer-wurstmarkt.de.

Mainzer Johannisnacht. In addition to carnival rides, a craft market, fireworks, and plenty of food and drink, live performances from local and international bands, as well as theater and cabaret performances, take place on six stages in the city center in late June. Since the festival is at least nominally in honor of Johannes Gutenberg, printers' apprentices are dunked in water in front of the Gutenberg Museum as part of a "printers' baptism" ceremony. Various locations, Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, 55116. www.johannisnacht.de.

Wormser Backfischfest. Carnival rides, traditional folk music and dance, jousting on the Rhine, and fireworks create a jovial atmosphere at this annual festival, starting in late August, which honors the city's fishermen. Don't pass up the chance to taste more than 400 wines at the festival's Wonnegauer Wine Cellar. Festpl., Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, 67547. www.backfischfest.de. Late Aug.–early Sept..

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