May is a wonderful month to travel to Germany. The weather is (usually) warm and sunny, the summer crowds haven't arrived yet, prices have yet to climb, and you can take part in many German festivals, events, and holidays. Here is the best of Germany in May.
Many of the events and festivals listed below have been canceled or postponed in 2020—please check the official websites or local news for updated information about each.
May 1st is "Tag der Arbeit", or Labor Day. It is a public holiday throughout Germany, but is celebrated quite differently in different areas of the country.
Many families use this day-off for a picnic in the park, while whole villages in Bavaria come together to raise a traditional maibaum (maypole) with colorful ribbons and carved figures to celebrate the spring season.
In Berlin and Hamburg, these celebrations have a more anarchist background fighting for labor rights, sometimes violently. Government organizations are doing their best to turn these disruptive events into neighborhood-wide festivals.
For true devotees, buying it in the stores is not enough. Spargel-lovers must go to the source. Each area says they they grow the best, but the only way to know for sure is to tour them all.
Just 30 minutes away from the capital, most of Berlin descends on Werder (Havel) in the first week of May. Typically held on two weekends around the first of May, Baumblütenfest (“Tree Blossom Festival”) is the ideal kick-off to summer and the largest fruit wine festival in the country.
Thousands of visitors watch from the Rhine promenade in Bonn in May. To get the best view, book your spot aboard one of the illuminated Rhine ships that parade down the river.
There are an estimated 4+ million Muslims in Germany and Ramadan is their largest festival of the year.
In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, this is a time of fasting, purification of the soul, and prayer. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intimacy and negative behaviors like swearing, lying or engaging in anger from Imsak (just before sunrise) until Maghrib (sunset). This is also a time of charity.
The Hamburg harbor, one of the biggest working harbors in the world. The city celebrates its anniversary with a massive three-day festival. Hamburg's Port Anniversary festivities, typically held over the first weekend in May, include a parade of historic ships, dragon boat races, and a tugboat ballet.
Eurovision is a Europe-wide singing competition held every May. Started in the 1950s, more than 40 countries compete with 125 million viewers tuning in each year. Germany has only won twice, but they are always a top competitor.
Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt) is held on a Thursday every May. It is a national holiday around the country and the Friday following is usually also a day off making it an ideal excuse for a long weekend.
For many of the country's men, however, the day is better known as Vatertag (Father's Day) or Männertag / Herrentag (Men's Day). It is a day for men to be boys, ride bikes, get out in nature and drink beer. Lots of it.
Elegant Würzburg on the Romantic Road celebrates its wine on the last weekend in May. Wine has been grown here for 1,200 years and it has been perfected into an art. This is the first of many wine festivals to be held throughout the year.
The weindorf (wine village) is located in the middle of Würzburg's market square. Weinprinzessin (wine princesses) from all over Franconia preside over the festival and about 40 different area vineyards offer 100 different wines. Wine is available by the glass or by the bottle and pair perfectly with the culinary specialties of Franconia.