Franconia is a vacation destination with much to offer. In fact, there is so much variety here, it’s like having all of Germany in one small package. There are 16 distinct regions with their unique charm and vacation offerings. Over half of Franconia’s territory is protected in a total of ten nature parks that are a dream come true for outdoor lovers. But travelers have much to enjoy beyond the parks. There are many amazing sights, museums, and cultural offerings. The proverbial icing on the cake, is the Franconian cuisine, the local beers, and, of course, the Franconian wine.
Franconia’s amazing variety is reflected in the distinct character of each of its cities, most notably Ansbach, Aschaffenburg, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Dinkelsbühl, Eichstätt, Erlangen, Fürth, Kulmbach, Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Schweinfurt, and Würzburg. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Franconian cities: The magnificent Residenz Castle in Würzburg, the quaint Old Town of Bamberg, and the baroque-era Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth. Furthermore, the Limes Germanicus, a border fortification wall that protected the Roman Empire from Germanic tribes in the antiquity, also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Franconia is home of a total of four such designated sites out of seven for all of Bavaria.
The year 2016 will be a delectable anniversary year in Franconia:
The Bavarian Beer Purity Law will be 500 years old in 2016 and “Franconia – Where Beer is at Home” is ready to celebrate. After all, Franconia has the highest density of beer breweries in the world, thanks to its many private microbreweries and brew pubs, and it is a beer lover’s paradise. You can enjoy truly unique varieties, such as the Bamberg Smoked Beer or the “Ungespundete,” or low effervescent beer. And, of course, there is the unique atmosphere of Franconian beer gardens and cellars with their grand old trees.
Erlangen, for example, offers a “Beer Cul-Tour” that includes six beer samples on top of much information about beer and city history. Another great place to educate yourself about beer history is the exhibit “500 Years of Beer Purity Law – Beer of the Lovely Tauber River Valley” that runs from April to October 2016, first in Bad Mergentheim and subsequently in Tauberbischofsheim, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Wertheim.
In 2016, Franconia’s beers are also front and center during numerous other events and festivals. The festival season gets started early in the year with the “BeerWeeks” in the Franconian Switzerland region (February 10 through April 23, 2016) where chefs create many beer dishes to go with your brew. April 23, 2016 is the official “Day of the Beer” and there are celebrations throughout Franconia. For example, Bamberg and the city’s nine breweries celebrate the occasion with the “Bamberg Beer Days” celebration from April 23 to 24, 2016. The anniversary will also be celebrated in style at traditional beer festivals, such as the Erlangen “Bergkirchweih” (May 12 through 23, 2016), the Franconian Beer Fest in Nuremberg (May 25 through 29, 2016), the Forchheim “Annafest” (July 22 through August 1, 2016), and the Kulmbach Beer Week (July 30 through August 7, 2016). For a list of Franconian breweries, typical beer varieties, eventful beer tours, and, last but not least, the best events of the beer anniversary year 2016, go the webpage “Franconia – Where Beer is at Home”.www.franken-bierland.de
Aside from beer-heavy experiences, Franconia also offers many intellectually interesting events in 2016.
The 150th anniversary of the death of the poet and orientalist Friedrich Rückert is celebrated first and foremost in Schweinfurt, the city of his birth. The centerpiece of the anniversary celebrations is a literature exhibit with the title “Poet of the World” which can be seen from April 8 through July 10, 2016 first in the Art Gallery in Schweinfurt and then in Erlangen (July 24 through November 13, 2016) and in Coburg (January 14 through April 17, 2017). Concert goers can enjoy musical versions of Rückert poems by well-known composers, such as Schubert and Mahler (April 30 through November 20, 2016) and there is even a “Poetry Slam” honoring the writer (March 5, 2016).
On Rückert’s 150th death anniversary on January 31, 2016, the city of Coburg will give out the Rückert Award to an author of the Orient. The small town of Lauringen, where Rückert spent his childhood years, will also host celebrations. The town of Ebern celebrates the poet not only with concerts, lectures, and a birthday party on May 16, 2016, local restaurants will get into the spirit with Rückert menus. Poetry fans can always enjoy a hike on the Rückert Hiking Trail between Schweinfurt and Neuses near Coburg, where the famous poet spent his final years. Last but not least, there is a Rückert Trail in the city of Erlangen that features 12 stations where you can explore the poet’s life and work.
The year 2016 also marks the 700th birthday of the Emperor Karl IV, an influential ruler who shaped the history of the Holy Roman Empire well beyond the time of his reign. In Nuremberg, Karl’s seal was placed on the golden bull, a legal document that regulated the election of German Emperors through 1806. Karl IV was a gentle monarch and under his rule trade flourished. The road from his birthplace of Prague to the Free City of Nuremberg became known as the Golden Route during his reign. Along this historical trade route, there will be numerous celebrations in the anniversary year of 2016. First and foremost, there will be the Czech-Bavarian Exhibit Karl IV. The exhibit will open first in Prague and then move to the German National Museum in Nuremberg on October 20, 2016. The exhibit brings back to life the time of Karl’s rule with highly prized objects from the middle ages as well as interactive exhibit stations. Another highlight awaits along the banks of the nearby Pegnitz River: At the Wenzel Castle that goes back to the time of Karl IV, the magnificent Coat of Arms Hall will be open for visitors to tour. The walls of the hall are decorated with more than 100 escutcheons of Bohemian nobility.more
From April 22 through October 9, 2016, the city of Bayreuth offers “Music for the Eyes” as it hosts the State Garden Show 2016. Visitors will be enthralled with magnificent flower displays and an exciting variety of diverse landscapes. The “Wilhelminenaue,” a park named after the greenspace-friendly Margrave from Bayreuth, will become a flowering bridge between the historical old town, the royal garden, and the hermitage. The city of Bayreuth also offers many other events, such as theater plays and concerts, during the State Garden Show to round out the program.more
Every year, Coburg is experiencing samba fever, a tradition that has been going strong for 25 years now. The “Rio de Franconia” will be under the spell of hot rhythms and colorful costumes again from July 8 through 10, 2016. Samba ensembles and capoeira dancers – 3,000 in total - from all over the world congregate with festival goers in the historical old town for a giant dance party, celebrating life. The samba weekend offers a colorful mix of people, events, and food. There will be Brazilian fare right next to the iconic Coburg bratwurst and Caipirinha will be enjoyed as much as Franconian beer.www.samba-festival.de
In case you don’t know: Franconians like to celebrate.
Every year there is a succession of beer fests, fairs (such as the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen May 12 – 23, 2016), traditional festivals (such as the Annafest in Forchheim July 22 – August 1, 2016), and exotic festivals (such as the Samba Festival in Coburg July 8 - 10, 2016 or the annual Africa Festival in Würzburg May 26 - 29, 2016). The Africa Festival is now the largest celebration of African music and culture in all of Europe. History buffs can take a journey back in time at historical festivals. Rothenburg ob der Tauber hosts the “Master’s Drink” celebration May 13 - 16, 2016. It is a reenactment of the 30-Year War legacy when the city was about to be annihilated by the army of General Tilly, but was miraculously spared on October 31, 1631. Franconia is also no stranger to sports events, such as the internationally renowned triathlon “Challenge Roth” on July 17, 2016.