The Nuremberg Metropolitan Region offers a festival programme that no other region in Germany can match in quantity, variety and quality. The metropolitan region’s Culture Forum has selected 26 of approx. 250 events for their supra-regional relevance. The Culture Forum/ AG Festivals has agreed on the following three criteria to describe the characteristics of a festival:
- Held over several days
- Regularly recurring event
- Unique features, international reference, importance within the cultural sector
The majority of the big festivals are initiated and funded by the municipalities or financed substantially by public funds. Thanks to the sponsorship of BayernLB, a brochure describing 32 festivals was published; you can find the festival brochure (PDF file for download) here. In the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region, the festivals span a broad range of themes, touching on all of the areas described in this report.
The following examples are representative of a long list of exceptional cultural events.
We love to celebrate events in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region. You can see this from the many yearly festivities that often have a long-standing tradition. Every season of the year has its own highlights, and every city, town, or countie has a special insider's tip: for example, Neustadt a.d. Aisch swings, Bamberg performs magic, Weiden dreams, and Kronach shines lights. Let yourself be tempted into discovering more than 150 festivities in the region, and you will always find a reason to celebrate.
In the year 2000, Nuremberg celebrated the city’s 950th anniversary. The Mummpitz Theatre decided to honour the occasion by inviting ten exceptional European theatre productions for children and thus start the anniversary year by giving the youngest citizens of Nuremberg something to celebrate. The European Children’s Theatre Festival, known as panoptikum, was a huge hit, both with lay and expert audiences. Almost all of the performances sold out before the festival opened, and the event delighted both the press and public. Due to the success of the event, the festival’s backers decided to finance a second edition in 2002. That year, the Mummpitz Theatre, in collaboration with the Junge Theater Augsburg, first presented panoptikum as a Bavarian-European children’s festival. Since then, the festival puts the European children’s theatre scene to the test every two years whilst providing Bavarian children’s theatre with a platform.
panoptikum’s goal is to showcase the full range of European and Bavarian children’s theatre as well as encourage exchange, deepen contacts and present new companies, material and styles.
More information at: www.festival-panoptikum.de
What began as the “Festival für Jiddisches Lied” – or festival of Yiddish song – in 1988 is now, along with Krakow and Toronto, one of the three most renowned klezmer festivals worldwide. For ten days every two years, the International Klezmer Festival in Fürth presents the many directions and styles that klezmer musicians are working in nowadays. In addition to traditional styles, Yiddish pop, klezjazz, klezmer rock and punk have long since won over audiences. Film screenings, music and dance workshops, lectures, audience discussions and city tours provide visitors from Germany and Europe a deeper understanding of the past and present of Jewish culture. A three-day interlude shortens the time period between the big, ten-day festivals, which take place in even-numbered calendar years.
More information at: www.klezmer-festival.de
The Turkish/German Film Festival, held in Nuremberg since 1992, is dedicated to German and Turkish cinema. The festival was initially called Türkei Filmtage, but changed its name to InterFilmFestival in 1998. Since 2003, it has operated under its current name. The now 11-day festival is amongst the most important intercultural events in Germany and has also drawn international attention. The goal of the festival is to “provide cultural groups from different backgrounds with a shared platform for dialogue through the aesthetic and informative means of cinema”.
The festival is organised by the association “InterForum Kunst & Kultur – Nürnberg international” and the City of Nuremberg’s Office for Culture and Leisure. In 1995, the festival received the Cultural Award of the City of Nuremberg, followed by the Ankara Media Prize for International Film in 2006. In 2010, mayor Dr. Ulrich Maly presented the founder of the festival, Adil Kaya, with the City of Nuremberg’s Citizen’s Medal.
The Grenzland (Borderland) Film Festival in Selb was established in 1977. This small but exquisite festival presents a fine selection of films every year. At the beginning, the festival focused on Eastern European cinema, but now it shows a variety of features, documentaries and short films.
In keeping with its long-standing mission, the Grenzland Film Festival wishes to entertain viewers while also making them think. Every year, a carefully curated selection of films, organised into genre-specific programmes, is presented on the second weekend after Easter at cinemas in Selb.
“The show that unfolds in important theatres and on improvised stages in the greater Middle Franconian region every two years has changed over the past 30 years, going from a simple and initially ridiculed ‘puppet party’ to the most important international event of its kind, which has long transcended the boundaries of its genre. It is precisely the unhindered and unlimited playability of this art form, which by now has left its mark on the increasingly wordless and image-less ‘proper’ theatre, that makes it so unpredictable and simultaneously fascinating. Puppet theatre has come a long way. It dares to step onto the big stage; it is open to all kinds of visuals, no matter how fleeting; it experiments with new media; it allows its namesakes to change or even shed their shape completely, and it transports the spectator deep into its scenery and stories.” (Theater heute issue 8, August/September 2009)
The International Puppet Theatre Festival takes place every two years in the metropolitan area around Erlangen, Nuremberg, Fürth and Schwabach. More than 50 international theatre groups perform around 100 shows to a total of 25,000 visitors at 20 different venues. During the course of ten days, the groups present productions that fall under the current definition of contemporary puppet theatre: puppet theatre, theatre of objects or visuals, theatre that cuts across the boundaries of dance, performance and circus, as well as the use of new media – video projections and interactive technologies – onstage.
More than any other form of theatre, puppet theatre has moved beyond its boundaries. It has adopted ideas from other theatrical fields, experimented with new forms of expression, and embraced interdisciplinary curiosity. The International Puppet Theatre Festival Erlangen, Nuremberg, Fürth and Schwabach is one of the most important epicentres for this kind of theatrical experimentation. Established in Erlangen in 1979, the festival has not only become the largest and most important platform for trans-boundary, interdisciplinary theatre in the German-speaking world, but also one of the leading festivals for puppet and object theatre and theatre of visuals worldwide.
Parallel activities: street theatre, exhibitions, films and workshops, presentations, production talks, discussions and, in cooperation with the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg (Institute for Theatre and Media Studies), the “Intermedial Youth Forum”, which provides students and young theatre artists with a platform to present and discuss their work.
“The International Erlangen Comic Salon is not only the local comic scene’s biggest exhibition, but its organisers also see themselves as defending visual storytelling against its detractors.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 26 May 2008).
Established in 1984, the biennial International Comic Salon Erlangen is the most important festival dedicated to graphic literature in the German-speaking world. The fact that the comic is now an accepted art form in Germany is due in no small part to the influence of this event. The International Comic Salon is held at a 15,000 square metre exhibition space, and its programme combines art and commerce, mainstream and avant-garde. In addition to reflecting the rich diversity of the genre, the event is both a measure of what is happening in the German scene and one of its driving forces. Every two years, the event draws more than 25,000 attendees.
The centrepiece of the International Comic Salon in Erlangen is the public fair at the Heinrich-Lades-Halle conference centre in the Erlangen city centre. Around 150 exhibitors – including German and international publishers, agencies, representatives of the comic book trade, and students taking comic classes at art academies – present their programme here. Several new publications receive their first public exposure at the fair, and visitors can watch more than 300 international artists draw or have them sign a copy of their book.
High-calibre exhibitions presented at different venues throughout the city constitute an important element of the International Comic Salon: solo exhibitions by international comic book stars as well as insights into the German-speaking scene, up-and-coming comic book artists, themed exhibitions about comic book history, comic books and new media, computer animation and film. Previous exhibitions have showcased the talents of Alex Barbier, Baru, Benjamin, Christophe Blain, Nie Chongrui, Derib, Hendrik Dorgathen, Will Eisner, Gipi, Reinhard Kleist, Ralf König, Isabel Kreitz, Don Lawrence, Nicolas Mahler, Lorenzo Mattotti, Max, Moebius, François Schuiten, Art Spiegelman, Joost Swarte and others.
The “Max & Moritz Gala” at the Markgrafentheater in Erlangen marks the salon’s culmination. The Max & Moritz Award, endowed by Bulls Press and presented by the City of Erlangen, is the most important recognition for graphic literature in the German-speaking world. By presenting the award, the salon recognises the work of exceptional artists, encourages meritorious publishing efforts, and contributes to a greater involvement with graphic literature. In recent years, Albert Uderzo, Jacques Tardi, Alan Moore and Pierre Christin received lifetime achievement awards in recognition of their work.
Parallel activities include lectures, talks and discussions with artists, authors, journalists and publishers, comic book readings, drawing contests, workshops, and “Family Sunday” with lots of activities for kids and teens at reduced admission prices. At the cinemas in Erlangen, the Comic Film Fest shows new comic book adaptations along with all kinds of animation, from contemporary Anime to avant-garde films.
The Thalmässing Short Film Festival started in 1995 and takes place annually during the month of May. The festival shows films of up to 15 minutes in length. It is open to all genres and styles, and presents animated and fiction films, documentaries, videos, in black-and-white or colour, with or without dialogue.
The competition features three prizes; the first two are awarded by the audience, whereas the festival team decides the winner of the third. In addition, the Eichstätt Media Centre awards a special prize. The Olga is to the Thalmässing Film Festival what the Oscars are to Hollywood. The Olga symbolises what is most important about the Thalmässing Film Festival and, of course, the reason why short films get made.
Every summer since 1949, the Romanesque cloister of the former Benedictine monastery has hosted the “Kreuzgangspiele” or “cloister performances”. The focus is on classic plays written by the likes of Kleist, Schiller, Lessing, Goldoni and Goethe. Shakespeare is also performed time and again. A children’s programme was added to the cloister performances in 1975. Over the years, fairytales like “Cinderella” or “The Brave Little Tailor” gave way to modern children’s literature like “Pippi Longstocking” or “The Robber Hotzenplotz”. Since the 2009 season, the cosy Nixel Garden along the city wall has also served as a stage. Feuchtwangen is one of the most richly traditional festival sites in the German-speaking world and a member of the association “Zehn deutsche Festspielorte” (ten German festival sites).
For over 130 years, the city of Rothenburg has travelled back in time around Whitsuntide – back to 1631, in the middle of the turmoil of the Thirty Years' War. With lots of dedication and attention to detail, 700 members of the "Historisches Festspiel ›Der Meistertrunk" club bring the past to life against the incomparable backdrop of the medieval city high above the Tauber Valley, creating a very special atmosphere that is both authentic and relaxing.
The festival portrays the siege and conquest of the Protestant city by the troops of the German Catholic League led by the Count of Tilly. Initially, during a military tribunal Tilly ordered that Rothenburg be pillaged and razed. However, inebriated by Franconian wine, he made an unusual proposal to the fully assembled town council: "If one of you has the courage and strength to drain this chalice in a single draught, I shall be merciful and forgive your guilt!" No easy task as the chalice held three and a quarter litres, but mayor Nusch accepted the wager and accomplished the seemingly impossible, rescuing the city with his "master draught". Every day during Whitsuntide, visitors can experience the dramatic hours between hope and despair as the story of the master draught is performed as a play in the "Kaisersaal" at the town hall – the actual scene of the historical event. More than 130 performers in authentic costumes and uniforms appear on stage. And you, too, can participate in the joy and relief of the fortunate rescue, which is celebrated with a big festival.
The climax of the events around Whitsuntide is the military parade on Sunday with more than 50 groups participating, including the magnificent Swedes in their uniforms with panaches and colourful sashes, the wild Croatians who show off their riding prowess by standing on horseback, and the sutler women who show with their authentic and harmonious singing that they can do much more than your first impression might suggest when you see them running through the streets yelling, arguing and fighting.
The parade, which includes 145 horses and 17 historic wagons, starts at the "Spitaltor" to the south and goes through the old city centre to the historic military camp outside the east gates of the city where battle-hardened soldiers demonstrate their skills in show fights and cooks can be seen plucking chickens or cutting vegetables. If you get hungry, near the "Galgentor" (gallows gate) the publicans offer a wide range of refreshments and there is excellent musical entertainment as well. And those who want to take home a souvenir of their excursion to the 17th century will find what they need at the heart of the old town in the crafts markets at the "Grüner Markt" and the "Jakobskirche" (St. James's Church). Besides Whitsuntide, the play about the saving of Rothenburg is also presented during the "Reichsstadttage" in September and the "Rothenburger Herbst" in October. For current information and tickets, see www.meistertrunk.de
Since 1994, the Fränkische Theatersommer e.V. – Landesbühne Oberfranken (Franconian Summer Theatre – Upper Franconia State Theatre) has travelled throughout Upper Franconia and neighbouring regions performing their plays. The travelling theatre’s home base is the cultural centre at St. Gangolf in Hollfeld. Nowadays, the Fränkische Theatersommer e.V., which added “Landesbühne Oberfranken” to its name in 2007, gives around 200 performances at more than 70 locations. The ensemble performs in palaces, castles, park areas, market squares, museums and caves.
Rock im Park – or Rock in the Park – is one of the most popular festivals in Europe. With a yearly attendance of 60,000 people, the festival is a huge draw.
Rock im Park has been held in Nuremberg since 1997. Music lovers gather on the first weekend in June for veritable musical fireworks on three stages: Center Stage, Alterna Stage and Club Stage. The three-day event is characterised by a gathering of superstars of the contemporary music scene. What makes Rock im Park special is that it takes place right in the middle of Nuremberg. The festival grounds and the adjacent campground create a kind of “city within the city”, and visitors often take a break from camp and concerts to wander into the nearby city centre for a meal or a bit of shopping.
Established in 1951 by the church musicians of the two largest Evangelical churches in the historic city centre, St. Lorenz and St. Sebald, the Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg (Nuremberg International Organ Week): Musica Sacra (ION) may well be the biggest and oldest festival for religious and organ music in Europe.
From the very beginning, ION has stood for more than just organ music: choral and symphonic concerts extend the programme into other areas of sacred music, and academic symposia as well as special events aimed at young audiences contribute to a deeper understanding of this kind of music.
ION’s International Organ Competition, held since 1968 and one of the most recognised events of its kind worldwide, constitutes an essential element of the programme. The event was redesigned and reorganised in 2007 and now takes place every two years as a performance competition held parallel to the ION concerts. Master classes given by renowned organists as well as several religious services in which church music holds a privileged position complete the ION programme.
The Bardentreffen – or Gathering of the Bards – is an open-air music festival held in Nuremberg every summer. The first edition took place in 1976 as an amateur song contest in honour of the 400th anniversary of the death of master singer Hans Sachs. The Bardentreffen in Nuremberg is one of the largest “free & outdoor” events in Germany. The performance spaces are scattered throughout the entire historic city centre. The festival takes place every year on the first weekend of the Bavarian school holidays.
The festival costs are covered by the City of Nuremberg, profits from food & beverage sales, and sponsors. Admission is free. The “bards” – meaning songwriters and bands from around the world, including a substantial number of young and as yet undiscovered talents – perform on several stages. With an average of 200,000 visitors, the Bardentreffen is one of the best known and most popular festivals of its kind.
Nowadays, the festival’s musical concept builds upon three pillars: tradition, trends and experiments. Without being arbitrary in any way, the festival welcomes old-school songwriters, traditional folk music from different backgrounds and contemporary variations thereof as well as current musical trends and experimental music and vocals. The Bardentreffen makes no attempt to historicise; it is a thoroughly modern festival.
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by renowned artists in authentic concert spaces – this has been the recipe for Bach Week’s success for over 60 years. People from all over Germany and neighbouring countries flock to the orangery with its sumptuous French garden, the baroque St. Gumbertus palace chapel, the gothic Johanniskirche (St. John’s church) and other atmospheric places in and around the Middle Franconian city and former royal seat. They come to hear Bach – but not only Bach! A programme of more than thirty concerts also honours his musical predecessors and his artistic legacy.
Since 2009, the festival has also offered workshops for children between the ages of four and fourteen. Approximately 24 themed events allow participants to actively explore Bach’s life and work, his family and his milieu through music – Bach, up close and personal.
The Bayreuth Festival is an annual music festival held every July/ August at the Festspielhaus, a theatre specifically designed for the festival by Richard Wagner and Otto Brückwald, on the Green Hill in Bayreuth. The festival is exclusively dedicated to different performances of Richard Wagner’s work.
The first festival began on 13 August 1876, but due to its financial failure, it was forced to suspend activities until 1882. At first, the festival was held at irregular intervals. In 1914, the First World War interrupted the festival mid-season. The festival did not return for another ten years. It reopened on 22 July 1924 under the direction of Siegfried Wagner. The festival experienced one of its lowest points during the Nazi era.
The Friends of Bayreuth Association was founded in 1949 in order to raise funds for the revival of the festival. The festival returned after the Second World War, in 1951. Since then, there are introductory lectures given on every day of the festival that discuss the performances taking place on the same days. From the re-inauguration in 1951 until he stepped down on 31 August 2008, Wolfgang Wagner served as the artistic director of the festival. At a meeting on 1 September 2008, the board of trustees of the Richard Wagner Foundation named Wolfgang Wagner’s daughters, Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier, as the new directors of the Bayreuth Festival.
The Coburg Samba Festival began in 1992. It is the biggest event of its kind outside of Brazil. Every year, on the second weekend in July, the historic city centre of Coburg is transformed into a mini Rio de Janeiro. About 200,000 visitors flock to town, attracted by the samba sound of more than 100 international samba groups with a total of 3,000 members. The International Samba Festival features different samba delights for different tastes, including spirited dancers in gloriously colourful costumes, imaginative shows, Brazilian street samba and a diverse programme of parallel events. The performances on Friday and Saturday evening on the Marktplatz and Schlossplatz and the vibrantly colourful parade on Sunday afternoon through Coburg city centre constitute the yearly highlights.
The Schwabach Art Festival “Ortung – Im Zeichen des Goldes” (Onsite – Under the Banner of Gold) was established in 1999. The unusual look of the biennale, which runs for 16 days, is the source of its charm: 20-25 artists are invited to intervene in everyday spaces of the Schwabach city centre, including vaults, cellars, old washhouses, attics, private rooms as well as green areas and cultural spaces (the Old Synagogue, churches, galleries) and, inspired by the theme “gold”, transform, adorn, fill them... The end result is an art route to be walked through and experienced. A jury of recognised professionals presents the Schwabach Art Award (EUR 5,000) to the best artwork.
The Taubertal Festival or Taubertal Open-air is an outdoor rock, pop and hip-hop festival held in the Taubertal valley near Rothenburg ob der Tauber since 1996. The festival takes place over three days and attracts approx. 18,500 people.
A new “after-show” concept was introduced in 2008, which uses a nearby quarry as the site for staging an after-show area. The high quality and variety of the concert selection offers festival-goers an unforgettable weekend in the valley. The immediate and tangible connection established between the bands and their audience is an important contributing factor. The Taubertal Festival is considered the “club show” amongst festivals.
The Young Artists Festival Bayreuth has been fostering intercultural dialogue for 61 years, focusing on the coexistence of cultures; the coexistence of nations; the coexistence of all educational levels; the coexistence of gender; and the coexistence of different generations. Intercultural exchange between people happens on an individual, highly personal level: from person to person. Intercultural exchange is the premise for the peaceful coexistence of people. In order to create an intercultural world, people need a profound understanding of one another. And a profound understanding of themselves.
The festival transmits intercultural expertise to everyone involved – from participants and workshop leaders to organisers and sponsors as well as guests and disseminators – and teaches them how to actively work for peace.
In doing so, the focus is on:
- educating and training young artists from around the world in the field of music
- establishing an international encounter that effectively promotes peace
- training cultural managers from around the world in the field of art and social commitment.
- involving young festival participants in the educational project.
From 1950 until the present day – over the course of more than 60 years – about 25,000 young people from 80 countries have come to Bayreuth to work together and learn from one another.
“The sun is shining and, around the castle, Erlangen has been transformed into an enormous poetic playground, a Salzburg of literature” (Norbert Niemann), or even “a Woodstock of literature” (Ingo Schulze). At three podiums, participants read from contemporary works of German literature coming out that autumn. The audience, sitting at long wooden tables, is cheerfully attentive. For an author, this must seem a lot like paradise. While reading to 1,000 curious listeners from his or her new book, the author may forget about book sales and the dour state of the industry for a little while. Erlangen isn’t Salzburg or Woodstock – it is “literature’s ephemeral Garden of Eden”. (Die Zeit, September 4, 2008).
The German “Autumn of Books” traditionally begins in Erlangen on the last weekend in August. More than 60 authors, journalists and literary critics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland get together for readings, talks and panel discussions. A long weekend full of events revolving around contemporary literature: with this formula, the Poets’ Festival in Erlangen has become one of the most popular literary events in the German-speaking world since its inception in 1980. The festival attracts more than 12,000 attendees every year.
The main events at the Poets’ Festival in Erlangen are the two long reading programmes held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the palace gardens. In keeping with the “contemporary literature” theme, authors give their first public reading of important new releases, which are subsequently discussed with renowned literary critics like Maike Albath, Verena Auffermann, Michael Braun, Wilfried F. Schoeller, Hajo Steinert, Florian Felix Weyh and others. The youth podium is reserved for well-known authors of children’s and young adult literature and includes appealing activities for kids and teenagers. Evenings are set aside for a special spotlight on individual authors and the international scene.
The programme also includes panel discussions and talks about topics related to literature and cultural policy. The Erlanger Übersetzerwerkstatt (translator’s workshop) focuses on the subject of literary translation. Every two years, the Kulturstiftung Erlangen (Erlangen cultural foundation) presents the “Erlangen Literary Award for Poetry in Translation” as part of the Poets’ Festival. The Print & Book show, dedicated to bibliophilic treasures, and other exhibitions complete the programme of the Poets’ Festival in Erlangen.
The late-summer literary festival is celebrated in several venues, including the palace gardens in the city centre, the Markgrafentheater – the oldest baroque theatre still in operation in southern Germany – and the historic Redoutensaal.
The International Guitar Festival in Hersbruck has established itself as one of the most important guitar festivals worldwide. Headed by artistic director and guitarist Johannes Tonio Kreusch, the festival brings well-known musicians from around the world to Hersbruck. Artists from different musical backgrounds such as classical, flamenco, finger-style and jazz guitar give audiences the chance to enjoy a full week of immersion in the sonic and stylistic diversity of the guitar. In recent years, star guitarists like Pepe Romero, Los Romeros, Tommy Emmanuel, David Russell, Alvaro Pierri, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet or Leo Brouwer have played at the International Guitar Festival in Hersbruck.
The Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival is a themed film festival. It is the first film festival in Germany entirely devoted to the topic of human rights. NIHRFF is a forum for exceptional feature films, documentaries and animated films that address the subject of human rights.
The festival is a window onto the world that shows a high-quality, international programme in the socially committed context of Nuremberg, the “City of Peace and Human Rights”. The festival takes place every two years in the month of October, following the presentation of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award.
The Lied & Lyrik (song & poetry) festival of the Friedrich Baur Foundation takes place every other autumn in Upper Franconia. Stars of the international classics and literary scene dedicate a week exclusively to song and poetry, the two disciplines that give the festival its name. Fostering young artistic talent and nurturing young audiences are amongst the main objectives of the festival’s organisers. The festival, organised by the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, celebrated its successful premiere in 2009.
The Hof International Film Festival takes place every year. In addition to screening international productions, the festival shines a spotlight on German cinema. The festival runs for a total of six days and features the presence of well-known film industry professionals. The festival currently features around 180 showings at two cinemas with a total of eight screens.
The festival covers almost the entire spectrum of cinema outside of the mainstream. In terms of where the films are made, the emphasis is on German cinema. German film school productions (particularly debut films) play a prominent role. Many international productions are also screened at the festival.
LesArt is literature festival jointly organised by the cities of Ansbach, Lauf and Schwabach. The yearly festival began in 1996 and takes place in early November, attracting 9,000 visitors per year. Renowned German and international authors present their most recent work during the festival. Several readings by writers of young adult fiction transport the experience of literature into the classroom and promote reading ability. An accompanying musical programme and a culinary reading complement and complete the LesArt autumn. Getting to the heart of high-quality, contemporary literature has become the trademark of the Franconian LesArt literature festival.