Grötzingen's annual festival is more than the usual ones which foreign tourists tend to call "ber fests". Grötzingen has cultivated its reputation as an artisits' village since the painters' colony settled there in the late 19th century. There are still lots of artists living and working in the village. The village's festival is entitled the "Mile of Culture". It takes place on a weekend in June. The event is rather new, the one in 2013 was the 6th, but the tradition seems already well established.
The "mile" begins around the old town hall in the centre of the village and leads along a couple of streets and squares. The tunnel under the highway interrupts it, but it continues around the palace on the other side. There are four or five stages with music, mostly regional bands and musicians. On Sunday morning and open-air church service is held in the festival grounds.
The square by the town hall has the largest stage and various food and drink stalls, most of them operated by local clubs who raise money for their activities. Niddaplatz has an open-air exhibition of paintings, and some activities for children. Niddastraße is the crafts market where artisans present their products - a lot of kitsch but also nice things. Selection is mostly limited to textiles, pottery and fashion jewellery, though. A local group of hobby artists occupies the small chapel to present and sell their pictures. The courtyard of the palace is the more upscale part of the festival, where you find the professional artists. The towers and cellars of the palace are used for indoor exhibitions (the palace itself is an old people's home and cannot be entered).
Christmas in Germany is usually celebrated on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day.
We put a Christmas tree up, decorate it (and I like REAL candles so much better) and have a wonderful family reunion and exchange presents and eat and sit together!
It is a wonderful celebration!
All over Germany you might notice these areas with gardens and little shacks all over. And you might wonder, if these are the slums of the city - but in the contrary:
these are Schrebergärten, external gardening spots for all those people, who have a flat without a garden to it. They rent a piece of Schrebergarten and spend every free minute in it!
These alotments started in the mid 1800s and while they were vital for food security until the 1950s, they are now more a green spot for the families!
Christmas and Easter are the two most important holidays in Germany. It is a German tradition to put an Easter bouquet up and decorate it with painted eggs. The kids go Easter egg hunting and here in the south of Germany they even get small presents for Easter.... There will be family reunions and gettogethers all over the place!
Easter is celebrated from Good Friday until Easter Monday and only on Saturdays shops will be open. All the other days everything will be closed!
Birthdays are something well recognized in this part of the world. Kids can't wait until they have them and adults can't wait to ignore them.....
Usually the person of honor gets presents for the birthday and many good wishes for a wonderful new year. A birthday cake is a tradition in most families.
The asparagus season lasts from the beginning of May until mid-June. During this time, almost every eatery in Germany offers a special asparagus menu (Spargelkarte) in addition to their regular menu.
A very popular method of serving the vegetable is with potatoes, butter or Hollandaise sauce, and either smoked or Black Forest ham. We love to eat asparagus with very thin crèpe like pancakes and ham - what a delight!!!
In Germany, the asparagus is almost always of the white variety (achieved by growing the stalks under mounds of earth so the sun doesn’t cause them to produce chlorophyll).
Since Karlsruhe is very close to what they call "die deutsche Spargelstraße" = the German asparagus street, we only have to drive a few kilometers to buy asparagus directly from the farmers......
Every November, there is the Karlsruher Bücherschau in the Landesgewerbeamt near the Market Square. It lasts for about 4 weeks until the beginning of December.
The Bücherschau is a book fair, mainly featuring local publishers. Every year they have a featured country and a featured specimen of literature. You can go there and look at the hundreds of books, listen to lectures or even watch movies.
Entry fee is 2 € (or 1 € for students and senior citizens) and opening hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily!
I thorougly enjoy this event a lot and try to visit every year!
From November 28 until December 23, you will find a huge Christmas Market on the Market Square. There are dozens of stalls with either little gifts, sweets, gluehwein (hot wine with spices) or Bratwurst - and be sure that there are hundreds of people around as well!
In 2004 we started our VT Gluehwein meeting tradition, which was a lot of fun and which in 2006 even had international guests visiting from abroad: Natalie from England, Ingrid from the Netherlands and Sonja from Switzerland (apart from our two American VTers who live in Frankfurt...). In 2008 were were happy to welcome attendees from GB, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Germany, later even as far as the USA and in 2011 we had more Dutch guests and our easternmost attendee from the Czech Republic!
So, if you would like to join us in 2012 - feel free to sign up!
Karlsruhe was the first city south of Frankfurt to ever have a Singalong - and I was lucky to be in it! It took place in the Stadtkirche Durlach and we performed Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratory I - III. More than 200 singers from all over Karlsruhe came to sing this wonderful oratory, the orchestra was excellent and so were the soloists!
Do have a look at my video, if you would like to get an impression of what it was like! I do hope that this will become a tradition here - a local custom!!! And I am happy to say: it HAS become a tradition!!! The 5th Karlsruhe singalong will be on December 15th, 2012.
If you are travelling and in need of some reading material other than maps and guide books, Karlsruhe is the place to go. Karlsruhe has a very active bookcrossing.com community with different OBCZs - official book crossing zones. These are usually cafés or bars that allow bookcrossing to maintain a bookshelf there with books that can be taken by whoever wants to read them. These books are registered on the bookcrossing.com website and if you feel like telling us, which book you took, what you thought of it and where you plan to leave it again, this will add to the excitement. If not, just enjoy reading the book! There is one bookshelf in the Café Gelbe Seiten and there used to be one in the Cafébar Schiller on Kronenplatz (look at my restaurant tip).
Another nice thing are the official bookshelf on Lidell Square and Werder Square that invite you to just take and read any book you like. If you have any books you would like to leave there - much appreciated, but not necessary!
So, enjoy reading, folks!!!!
Karlsruhe has a lot to offer: museums, theater and lots of festivals.
My favourite festival is 'DAS FEST' held every year in July. There are bands playing from Friday until Sunday. It used to be free, but they have changed it to 5 € per day (which is not much considering the fun you can have therE!!) On Sunday morning they have a classical breakfast concerto and this open air atmosphere is just great. Bring your picknick and a blanket and be sure to come early - otherwise the best "seats" will be taken!
Tickets can be bought right there at the entrance or ahead of time in every Sparkasse (bank) or tourist information. If you can plan ahead of time I suggest buying the ticket as soon as you know you want to go - they might be sold out otherwise!
Carnival in this area is a lot of fun: it is a nice mixture of Alemanian carnival with witches and bells and plenty of noise and more of the Rhineland type carnival with wonderful costumes and "motto-wagons". About 300000 people see this wonderful parade every year!
It moves from Durlacher Tor along Kaiserstrasse (which is then closed for all public transportation) all the way to Europaplatz and then turns left into Karlstrasse.
The parade is held on Carnival Tuesday starting at 2 p.m. Come early, if you want to have a front place!!!!
Dambedei figures are on sale in the bakeries in and around Karlsruhe from late October to Christmas. They are made from a sweet yeast dough in the shape of little men with legs and arms, two raisins as eyes, and larger ones also have raisins as buttons on their belly.
A Dambedei is said to originally be a good spirit who takes care of the house and its inhabitants, people and animals. There are several other explanations about the name, though, but none is really convincing.
Other regions know similar 'pastry men' that are sold in the pre-Christmas season, for example the Weckmänner in the Rhinelands around St Martin's Day.
If you buy one, eat him soon. They are best when fresh.
Once a year all museums in town stay open till late at night and offer special events, guided tours, food and drink, music and party. This is a big thing in town, expect everything to be extremely crowded. If you want to attend a certain event, come early.
Badisches Landesmuseum and Naturhistorisches Museum are most of all renowned for inspiration and ideas. The funniest idea the museum of natural history had so far are the cockroach races (with betting!) which are done every year.
The KaMuNa button is the entrance ticket for everything and is also valid on public transport. The button is sold for € 8 in advance, € 10 during the evening (concessions: 2 € less).
The usual date is the first Saturday in August. All details on the website (in German).
Karlsruhe has a fantastic recycling program in place. They have receptacles for brown glass, white glass, green glass, plastic containers, even batteries. As I was walking around town admiring the environmental efforts of the local citizens I realised I had some paper I wanted to throw away. Then the trouble started! In some areas of the city just try and find a normal place to throw away your paper! I walked about 3 kilometres before I found somewhere to thro my humble piece of paper.