I’ve been living in Germany for eight years now and, whilst I get visitors all year round, I’m always particularly popular in December. No prizes for guessing why… that’s right, the Christmas markets. For many people, this is the preferred time of year to visit Germany, and I do understand why. Even after living here for so long, going to the Christmas market for the first time at the end of November or beginning of December still feels magical. It really is a great time to visit – but so are the autumnal months that precede the Christmas market season. Here’s why.
You still get days that look like this:
It might not be the height of summer anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s always grey and overcast. Especially in September, there’s still a good chance of a lovely, blue-skyed day or two! It’s a great month to explore Germany – the kids are back at school, there aren’t as many other tourists as during the summer months and it’s just the right temperature to enjoy getting out and about on foot.
frankfurt Book Fair is on
Frankfurt Book Fair, or the ‘Frankfurter Buchmesse’ in German, is a five-day, international book fair. In fact, it’s the biggest trade fair for books in the world. The event is held annually in October, and this year (from the 10th to the 14th of October) it’s celebrating its 70th anniversary! Publishers, agents, authors, journalists and other professionals within the book industry attend, and the main focus is on buying and selling the rights to books.
From Wednesday to Friday, the fair is only open to trade visitors and the press, but at the weekend private visitors can also check it out. And for anyone who is happiest with their head in a book, I would really recommend doing so! There are lots of interesting events to attend, books to peruse and people to meet. As it’s an international fair, each year one country is chosen as the ‘Guest of Honour’. This country gets to showcase its books and culture at the fair, which gives each fair a different flavour. This year’s guest country is Georgia, with Norway and Canada lined up for 2019 and 2020. So if you’re particularly interested in any of those countries, or in books in general, be sure to come and check it out!
you can go to Oktoberfest
Anyone who likes Germany and beer should probably go to Oktoberfest at least once. It’s quite the experience. Tents packed full of people having fun, singing and enjoying beer by the litre. Amazingly talented and well-balanced waiting staff carrying more beers in one hand than you could in two. People wearing traditional Bavarian outfits everywhere you look. Yes, there’s a lot to take in! Happily for vegan beer lovers, many of the Munich beers served at Oktoberfest, such as Augustiner, Paulaner and Hofbräu, are vegan friendly (source: www.barnivore.com) and, whilst it’s in the minority, there is vegan food to be found. A truly German experience, it really is worth checking out. But before you book, check the dates – a large part of Oktoberfest takes place in September!
It’s pumpkin season!
Before living in Germany, I have to admit that, for me, pumpkins were simply part of the annual Halloween traditions – they weren’t something I ever really ate or cooked. All of that changed when I moved to Frankfurt, though. Come autumn, you see pumpkins everywhere, from market stands to supermarkets to farmers’ fields, and every restaurant menu seems to have a pumpkin dish on it. Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin curry. Pumpkin salad. Happily, for all my fellow vegans, many of these are vegan friendly. You’ll see pumpkins, squash and gourds used as decorations in houses and restaurants, too, especially the inedible varieties. There’s even an annual pumpkin festival at this time of year in Ludwigsburg, a city near Stuttgart. There’s something very pleasing about sitting down to a warming pumpkin dish as the nights draw in and the temperatures drop. So if you find yourself in Germany in autumn, be sure to make the most of Kürbiszeit (pumpkin season)!
The Federweisser is ready and waiting
Federweisser is a young wine, which is made when yeast is added to grape juice; the sugar ferments and this creates a bubbly, low-percentage alcohol. The name literally means ‘feather white’ and it is widely available in wine-growing regions during September and October. It’s very sweet and extremely easy to drink, so it’s advisable to do as the locals do, and accompany your Federweisser with a slice of onion pie – known as Zwiebelkuchen. Unfortunately, many Federweisser varieties are not vegan – nor are most of the slices of Zwiebelkuchen you see out and about. Vegan Zwiebelkuchen is something you can whip up at home, though – I’ll add a recipe soon – and there are some vegan Federweisser varieties out there, it just takes a bit of detective work to find them.
Many places have annual Federweisser festivals, which are really worth checking out if you’re in Germany in September or October. You can sample various kinds of Federweisser, red and white, try some Zwiebelkuchen and, if you’re lucky, listen to some live music whilst you do so. Be sure to get your fill of Federweisser whilst you’re in Germany, though, as you can’t take any home with you – the drink is still fermenting, so the bottles cannot be fully sealed!
So if you’re thinking about a trip to Germany, consider booking your trip for the autumn months. You’ll beat the Christmas market crowds and get a real taste of life in Germany!