There are more things to do in Frankfurt than what most sites send tourists to! So let’s take a look at things to do when you’re living in the city all year round. Forget the museums and the tourist hotspots; you’ll see them all in your first month. Even though Corona might’ve changed the event industry forever, we’ll be looking at the interesting events that make Frankfurt unique; the things you can to look forward to every year. You know, once things go back to normal. Grab your agenda and let’s dive in!
Frankfurt is a lively city, with a long history of cultural festivals that, in some cases, literally go back hundreds of years. In fact, there are so many that I won’t have room to cover them all. So let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Frankfurt that Frankfurters themselves are looking forward to every year!
The annual Frankfurt book fair, called Frankfurter Buchmesse, is one the largest trade fairs for the publishing industry in the world. The fair sees over 7000 exhibitors and well over 300.000 visitors! The first 3 days are reserved to people related to the publishing industry and the last 2 days are open to the hundreds of thousands of book enthusiasts flooding into the Frankfurt Trade Fair.
As I mentioned before, this trade fair has existed for a long time, in fact, it’s older than the printed book itself! Even over 500 years ago, people were selling handwritten books there! So whatever genre you love, the Frankfurter Buchmesse open weekend is a heavenly place for any bookworm.
What started as a medieval market all the way back in the 14th century is now known as a cultural festival called the Dippemess! The traditional pottery market it originally revolved around still takes place, but for most Frankfurters, the fun is in all the growing fairground attractions and booths that joined the festivities since the ‘50s.
These days you’ll see the most high-tech rides that fairgrounds have to offer. With over 2.5 million visitors annually, Frankfurt’s largest fair and Germany’s most popular Easter activity. Whether you attend around easter or show up for the autumn edition, you’ll find everything from roller coasters and carousels for the hardcore fans to more family-friendly attractions like bumper cars and merry-go-rounds. So line up, or watch your new German friends scream with joy while you enjoy roasted almonds and Frankfurter apple wine before you spend some coin at one of the many shooting galleries.
If there’s one day that Frankfurters take time off for, it’s Wäldchestag or Woodsday in early June. In fact, shops used to close early, and many employers let their employees off work at noon and special public transport is put in place.
As the name implies, the festivities take place close to and in the Frankfurt city forest, on the south side of the city. Like the Dippemess, the festivities surrounding Wäldchestag have grown to include more and more fairground activities. However, where the extreme rides are what attract many people to the Dippemess, the Wäldchestag is more about music and food.
Over the years, the array of delicacies you can try at Wäldchestag has evolved from local bratwurst and pretzels to a more international offering, making it more of a multicultural celebration.
In case you didn’t know, Frankfurt is well known for its cider-like apple wine (Apple wine has more alcohol, though!). They like it so much, in fact, that it has its own festival. The entire region brings out their locally produced recipe and attracts locals and enthusiasts from all over to try out their version of the drink at one of the many stalls and booths that spring up for the festival. There’s no festival without entertainment, so the Apple Wine Festival also features stage performances and local folk music around the city and at the many Apfelwein taverns as well.
Traditionally, the drink is served from a ceramic pitcher and poured into a glass decorated with diamond-shaped etching. It goes well with local cheese and other snacks, as long as you remember that Apfelwein’s 12-15% alcohol punch is little harder than other cider-like drinks (usually 5%) you might be used to! Either way, it’s an excellent recipe for chill nights our on the town with your friends or colleagues.
Germany is very well known for its Christmas markets and Frankfurt is happy to oblige! In fact, Frankfurt’s Christmas market is one of the oldest Christmas Markets in the country, dating back all the way to 1393! That means the Christmas market is older than the use of Christmas trees to celebrate Christmas! The festivities start at the end of November and carry on well into late December.
This Weihnachtsmärkte has seen some traditions spring up over the years, such as giant Santa clauses made of gingerbread. Also, in the past, the Christmas market would be the only place where parents would buy toys for their kids, leading do the classic image of children playing with artisanal, hand made wooden toys.
All in all, it’s a festive time full of lights, attraction, and overall merriment. Even if you’re not religious, you’ll have a wonderful time wandering around the market stalls with a nice steaming hot cup of hot chocolate or glüwein, watching kids ride the merry-go-round before looking for a cosy tavern to keep the party going!
No event list is complete without a little music! While most events have some sort of music elements in them, there’s no beating these annual music festivals in Frankfurt. We’ll start fo with one of the largest EDM concerts in the world and then we’ll look at some of Frankfurt’s jazzy sounds for the soul.
At the end of May or early in June, the frankfurter Commerz-Bank Arena trades in its emerald green football field for a massive, modern sound stage. EDM fans from all over the world flock to the arena.
What follows is 3 days of some of the best EDM artists in the world, including David Guetta and Armin van Buuren turning the stadium into one big party. What started with 25.000 attendees in 2013 has grown to a whopping 180.000 visitors attending the 2019 edition. So if you and your friends are looking to lose their mind to a serious beat drop, Frankfurt’s World Club Dome parties are the place to be!
Every year, on the 3rd of October, the Jazz am Dritten festival is held to celebrate the reunification of East and West Germany! People gather at the free stages organised at the Römerberg, to enjoy the diversity of Jazz artists from all over the world. It's no coincidence that Jazz is the centrepiece for this festival of healing, because in post-war Germany, Frankfurt was the hot spot for jazz artists from both sides of the wall.
So, if you want to get your groove on or kick back with a cold glass of your favourite poison, make your way to the Römersberg on October 3rd!