Making the most of Frankfurt's 2018 Christmas market

Starting on November 26th 2018 the heart of the Frankfurt Christmas market is on the Römerberg in the old town. Here you will find the town hall, the 30 meter Christmas tree and plenty of stalls to browse. Glühwein is available at just about every other stall, but read on for a few tips on the best places to try this warming, hot mulled wine. The map below details the different areas where the Christmas market is hosted.  This link will take you to the interactive map

Map of Christmas market areas around central Frankfurt

Map of Christmas market areas around central Frankfurt

Frankfurt Christmas market on the Römerberg

The main hub of the Frankfurt Christmas market is indicated by the orange area at the southern tip of the map above. It's the traditional site of the market, on the Römerberg, dating all the way back to the 14th century. Prior to browsing the stalls and commencing with the drinking, peak behind the huge Christmas tree to find the entrance to the town hall and step inside to for the annual Christmas arts fair (7th - 21st December). Local artists sell their wares directly to the public and there is a lovely mix of jewellery, pottery, sculpture as well as framed pictures and photographs.

Frankfurt Römerberg - town hall and Christmas tree

Frankfurt Römerberg - town hall and Christmas tree

A highlight of the Christmas market on the Römerberg is the carousel. It's not just for children so you should definitely have a quick ride before moving on. From the carousel, if you head toward the Schirn Art Gallery you'll pass a few stalls on your right. One stall sells hand-made wooden decorations which can easy be packed into luggage if your travelling this Christmas, and make great mementoes.  Beyond the wooden decoration stall and to the left is a row of small sheds. This is where you'll find some of the best home-made Glühwein in Frankfurt. The locals hang out here, sipping a cup of hot wine after work and it gets busy! At the other end of the row of sheds is the Bethmännchen stall selling baked marzipan treats, only to be found in Frankfurt.

Glühwein stand at the back of the Römerberg - popular with the locals!

Glühwein stand at the back of the Römerberg - popular with the locals!

Frankfurt Christmas market on Paulsplatz

Another area of the Christmas market to explore is on Paulsplatz. (the area marked in purple on the map). Next to the St. Paul's church is Wagner's honey house. It's a traditional timber-framed (fachwerk) house converted especially for the Christmas market. Upstairs is a variety of honey based drinks and liqueurs to buy whilst downstairs has an amazing variety of honey. St.Paul's church also hosts a Christmas arts fair in it's cellar, which is worth a browse (27th Nov - 22nd Dec). Back outside the church, follow the church walls round into the Christmas market stalls. Here you will find one of my favourite hot chestnut sellers and directly opposite is the Lion's Club Glühwein stall selling a good quality Glühwein. There is also a traditional Tiroler wood carver stall, Bachmann selling hand crafted nativity scenes and figures. 

Frankfurt Christmas market on Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz

From Paulsplatz head over to Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz (marked on the map in pink), it has outdoor seating and a great selection of things to eat from vegan specialities to traditional Reibekuchen (potato cakes with apple sauce). At this "Platz" you will also find the best Feuerzangenbowle, a potent Glühwein containing caramelised sugar and rum.  Every time someone leaves a tip, the bell is rung and more rum is poured over the caramelising sugar. Like I say, it's potent!

Potato cakes with apple sauce and a cup of Feuerzangenbowle

Potato cakes with apple sauce and a cup of Feuerzangenbowle

Frankfurt Christmas market on Hauptwache

From Friedrich Stoltze Platz, head to Hauptwache (outlined in Blue on the map) for more Christmas cheer. Close to the children's Christmas train is a lovely stall selling traditional wood toys. Head towards the Zeil and you will find another "Wagner's Honey House". The novelty in this location is how the house contains a large statue of David and Goliath within it - go inside and take a look!

Frankfurt Christmas market on at the Thurn und Taxis Palace

The markets close by 9pm but if you are still hankering for one last Glühwein before you head home, go to the Weihnachtsmarkt at the Thurn und Taxis Palais (top of the map outlined in green. Opening dates: 26th Nov - 22nd Dec 2018) Thursday to Saturday the market stays open until 11pm (10pm on other evenings) and offers yet more food and drink for the late night party lovers.

After a night out at the Frankfurt Weihnachtsmarkt it's sure to be a Merry Christmas!

(This link highlights special events, by date, at the 2018 Frankfurt Christmas Market)

Frankfurt New Altstadt

In September 2018 Frankfurt celebrated the official opening of the "new" Altstadt. This incredible development reflects architectural styles spanning six centuries. Of the 35 buildings which make up this new quarter, 15 of the houses have been authentically recreated whilst the other 20 properties have a modern contemporary style. The whole project was funded by the city costing 200 million euros and was over 12 years in the making.

Pre-war the old town was an area of 28,000m² and was the most expansive medieval old towns in Germany. However, on March 22nd 1944, the bombs rained down. The timber-framed, medieval houses, were not able to withstand the fires, resulting in 80% of the old town being destroyed.

Frankfurt wanted to rebuild itself as a modern city and by 1974 the Technische Rathhaus (technical town hall) took pride of place between the cathedral and the Römerberg. However, there was little love for the building’s brutalist architecture so when it was voiced that the building was to be demolished, the locals wasted no time in petitioning for a sympathetic redevelopment of the old town to represent what stood here before the war. 

Today the old town is 7,000m² and is only a quarter of it's previous size. The new development brings back to life former times from the Romans, to the Kaiserpfalz of the earliest Holy Roman Emperors and the centuries of architecture that followed.

Underneath the Stadthaus, and open for the public to view, lay the old Roman ruins, walls of the former Kaiserpfalz and some of the earliest medieval cellars.

Two of the old trading yards, Hinter dem Lämmchen and Hof zum Rebstock have been beautifully re-crafted, and after 70 years of being blocked, the Coronation Way, Krönungs Weg, is once again a thoroughfare for the public to retrace the steps of the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperors from the cathedral to the Römerberg.

The Hühnermarkt is the hub of the quarter, with the gothic Neue Rotes Haus ready to house "schirns" of yester-year and the Esslinger Haus, with it's reference to Tante Melber, an aunt of Germany's most famous author Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The baroque Grüne Linden, on the south side of the market place, houses the Balthasar Wein Bar offering quality German wines to thirsty passers-by. Meanwhile, on the east side, a row of classicist housing has been recreated. In the centre of the Hühnermarkt stands the fountain dedicated to Friedrich Stoltze, a local satirist and activist of the 1848 democratic movement.

The most outstanding house, the Goldene Waage (the Golden Scales) stands opposite the cathedral. It cost €8 million to authentically recreate both inside and out. This replica 17th century renaissance house is to be managed by the Historical Museum and will open to the public. Next door, at the Weißer Bock will be the Stoltze Museum.  

Take some time to explore the new town. Better still, come on a Walk-Frankfurt tour and get the full details and stories of what life was really like here, throughout the centuries.

Enjoying German wines at the 2018 Rheingau Wine Festival (until 7th September)

The 2018 Rheingau Weinfest, hosted on the Freßgass' in Frankfurt,  is a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with classic German wines. Put any preconception of sweet wine out of your mind. Good German wine is a whole new World waiting to be appreciated, however the German wine classification can feel complicated to novices so, to get the most out of the wine festival, below are some hints and tips to launch you into your voyage of wine discovery.

Dry or Sweet

Trocken is the word to look for if you want a dry, crisp wine. If you find the wine too crisp and minerally you might want to try a halbtrocken or feinherb wine which contains a small amount of residual sweetness, but are not sweet wines! Lusciously sweet wines, the ones you associated with dessert wines, carry the labels Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese.

Trocken and feinherb labels. Photograph © Anne Noble

Trocken and feinherb labels. Photograph © Anne Noble

Grape Varieties

The Rheingau is renown for it's riesling, the king of grape varieties. Many people underestimate riesling however Masters of Wine highly rate it for it's complexity and amazing ageing qualities. Gently sniff the bouquet of your riesling and you'll be amazed at the variety of scents ranging from floral, fruit, honey, herbs and the very distinct 'petrol' nose of an aged riesling. The Rheingau offers some other grape varieties which might be more familiar once you recognise their English names: Grauburgunder = Pinot Gris and Weissburgunder = Pinot Blanc. If you have the chance also try a Scheurebe a truely unique German grape created in 1916 by Dr. Scheu. He combined two grape varieties, riesling and bukettraube (of silvaner heritage) resulting in a wine which is dry with gentle fruit overtones.

Spätburgunder, aka Pinot Noir, dominates red wine production in the Rheingau. The style produced varies from a light finesse, which reflects the cool climes of the Rheingau area, to a richer, darker wine from grapes nurtured in the vineyards using select harvests. The difference is easy to spot in the glass, a light transparent red wine of the old style and a rich deep red of the new style.   


Some producers belong to the elite VDP association. VDP (Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) started in 1910 and serves to promote quality viticulture focussed on regional grape designation, quality production and vineyard management working in harmony with nature. Wine producers have to meet with strict requirements before they can carry the VDP eagle on their bottles. There are a few VDP producers at the Rheingau Weinfest. One repeat visitor is F. B Schönleber and Weingut Hamm is another renown producer which has also achieved the organic certification.

VDP Eagle. Photograph © Anne Noble

VDP Eagle. Photograph © Anne Noble

Wine Stands

This is a list of this years participants, and all offer great quality wines. All along the Freßgass will be the wine stands interspersed with food stalls making it a great place to head for an evening out with friends.

Apple wine - a speciality of Frankfurt

The 2018 Apfelweinfest, Frankfurt

The 2018 Apfelweinfest is being hosted on Roßmarkt, in Frankfurt, until August 19th. If you are coming to Frankfurt then you should definitely try a glass or two of this beverage famed as the local drink of Hessen and commonly called Äppler. The name however is misleading being more like a cider than a wine with an average alcohol content of 4%. Also be aware it has a sour flavour which is why you often see the locals ordering a bottle of sparkling water, along side their bembel (jug) of apple wine, which they use to top up the drink and soften the sourness.

How to order your apple wine

When ordering by the glass,  apple wine 'pur' means it is pure apple wine. If you want your glass topped with a little water, then order an apple wine 'sauer' and if you need a little sweetness, then order an apple wine 'suss', in this case the glass is topped with a little lemonade.

Bembels (jugs) of apple wine always come 'pur' and you order by the number of glasses. E.g if you are with a group of 6 friends you might order a '6er' bembel which holds six glasses of apple wine. Don't forget to order a bottle of sparkling water for those in your group who want to soften down the flavour. Better still go to Kelterei Heil, a known and respected brand in Frankfurt, and they'll include a bottle of water with your bembel.

Kelterei Heil offering a 6er Bembel and bottle of water for 12€

Kelterei Heil offering a 6er Bembel and bottle of water for 12€

One joy of the Apfelweinfest is trying apple wine from a variety of producers. Each brand has it's own flavour. Some producers offer unfilterred apple wine which is cloudy and labelled 'naturtrüb' whilst the more regular applewine is clear. Two producers offering naturtrüb at this years festival are Hofmann's and Trageser. My favourite regular apple wines offering a fresh taste are by Nöll, Walther and Stier This year Nöll, Walther and Stier have their stalls side by side, so not too far to wander to sample from all three!  Rosé apple wine is another variety worth a try and has a less sour taste. Nöll offer an Apfel-Secco which is milder and naturally sweet. 

Apple wine is always served in a 'gerippte' glass. The pretty diamond shape etching serves a practical purpose - it's to stop the glass from slipping through your greasy fingers, which is a very likely peril after a bratwurst or two. This year the Apfelweinfest is hosting a variety of foods, including vegetarian and vegan, fish and chips, traditional green sauce and the ever present Schwenkgrill (swinging grill over an open fire) for the meat eaters. 

If you've missed the festival but still want to try apple wine, try visiting one of the famous apple wine taverns in Sachsenhausen - a few of my favourites are on my web page, click on the link and scroll down to Applewine taverns in Sachsenhausen to see a list.

A traditional 'Gerippte' glass containing a sample of Hofmann's naturtrüb Äppler - Zum Wohl!

A traditional 'Gerippte' glass containing a sample of Hofmann's naturtrüb Äppler - Zum Wohl!

Festivals in and around Frankfurt during summer 2018

As you can imagine festivals are very much about food and drink, but some are dedicated to the local Rheingau wine. Whatever the festival there will always be plenty of food, plenty of drink and live music to dance away the warm summer evenings to.

In this list festivals are listed by date and every festival is either in Frankfurt or is easily accessed by public transport. I've added a few notes about trains, but please check the RMV website for full details.

For a print friendly version use this pdf file (entries last updated 05.07.2018)

Festivals in June - July

  • 27 June - 6 July - Frankfurt Opera Square Fest, at the Alte Oper. Lots of food and drink stands, plus entertainment starting at lunchtime and into the evening.
  • 28 June - 2 July - Darmstadt Heinerfest, opens at 18:00 on June 29th. An amazing array of events and attractions during this 5 day festival hosted all around Friedensplatz, with a firework display on Monday evening. (Numerous regional and S-bahns depart Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof on a regular basis)
  • 30 June-3 July - Eltville Sekt & Biedermeier Festival, This is a lovely festival along the Rhein promenade at Eltville, celebrating the sparkling wine of the region. The link also contains details of all other wine festivals in the Rheingau region. (RB10 regional train departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every hour)
  • 30 June - 9 July - Frankfurt Höchst Altstadt Fest. Taking place at the Schloss and Justinusplatz. Daily from 1pm - midnight. Lots for the family to enjoy (S1 & S2 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof regularly throughout the week)
  • 6 July - 8 July - Hugenotten Market, Friedrichsdorf - and the festival is in the centre of town at Landgrafenplatz. Fri 6pm - 2am, Sat 10am - 2am, Sun 10am - midnight (S5 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend)  
  • 6 - 9 July - Wiesbaden Schierstein Harbour Fest, Wiesbaden-Ost. A festival along the Habour promenade with plenty of music, food and drinks. On Saturday morning there is a flea-market, and throughout the weekend a dragon boat regatta. (Wiesbaden-Ost is the closest station. S1, S8, S9 depart Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min)
  • 7 - 8 Jul - Amazing Thailand Fest, Bad Homburg. A weekend of Thai celebrations, arts and food, hosted in the the Kurpark. (S5 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend)
  • 13 - 16 July - Hochheimer Wine Fest, hosted in the old town of Hochheim. A chance to try Queen Victoria's favourite wine! (S1 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min throughout the week)
  • 20 - 22 July - Frankfurt Christopher Street Day, Frankfurt. The main parade is on Saturday starting at Römerberg. Festivities all weekend long around Grosse Friedberger Strasse.
  • 13 - 16 July - Geisenheimer Lindenfest. A wine festival hosted in the Geisenheim cathedral square and special opening of shops on Sunday 16th too. (Regional RB10 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof for Geisenheim Bahnhof every hour throughout the week)
  • 20 July - 5 Aug - Frankfurt Sommerwerft Theatre Fest - along the northern banks, near Weselerwerft, of the Main river a festival of theatre and events for all the family. Of course they'll be drinks and food too!
  • 27 - 29 July - Mainz Light Fest All along the Rheinufer you will find food and drink stalls as you enjoy the festival of lights. Special ships are chartered to view the lights from the river and there is a spectacular firework and laser show on the Saturday evening. (S8 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 30 min throughout the week)
  • 27 - 30 July - Frauensteiner Weinfest, Wiesbaden. Hosted on St. Georg and Katharina Platz, Georg Str. 2 in the centre of Wiesbaden.  (Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof is the closest station. S1, S8, S9 depart Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min)
  • 27 Jul - 5 Aug - Dietzenbach Wine Fest Taking place on Europaplatz in the heart of Dietzenbach this festival draws vintners from around the region. Lots of live music. Opens at 5pm every day. (S2 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend)

Festivals in August

  • Until  5 Aug Dietzenbach Wine Fest Taking place on Europaplatz in the heart of Dietzenbach this festival draws vintners from around the region. Lots of live music. Opens at 5pm every day. (S2 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend) 
  • 3 - 5 Aug - Frankfurt Street Food Fest hosted at Hauptwache in the centre of the city, pretty hard to miss! Great selection of foods and drinks. (Numerous S-Bahns and U-Bahns travel through Hauptwache every minute of the day)
  • 3 - 5 Aug  - Oberursel Weinfest hosted on the Marktplatz.  (S5 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend)
  • 3 - 5 Aug - Wallufer Weindorf A wine festival in the oldest wine producing village of the Rheingau. Hosted along the river bank at La-Londe-Platz, Walluf. (Regional RB10 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every hour throughout the week)
  • 3 - 6 Aug - Frankfurt Main River Fest Hosted along the northern bank of the Main River, by the Eisener Steg in the heart of the old town. Funfair rides and lots of fun for the family. Firework display on Monday (7th) night.
  • 4 - 5 Aug - Kronberg Art and Wine Fest. A weekend of festivities starting at 3pm on Saturday until 8pm and Sunday from 11am - 7pm. Stores are open on Sunday too! (S4 to Kronberg departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 30 min throughout the week)
  • 5 Aug - Tomaten Fest at Gärtnerei Schecker, in Oberrad. Buy tomatoes by the basket full and snack on tomato based fare all around this wonderful hof. (It gets very busy best to cycle or take the tram to Wiener Str. and walk up) 
  • 11  Aug - Frankfurt Deutschherrnfest. Along the Deutchherrnufer in Sachsenhausen it s a day of fun for the family and entertainment into the evening. (Trams nr. 14 & 18 to Frankensteiner Platz)
  • 10 - 19 Aug - Frankfurt Applewine Fest. A celebration of apple wine takes place on Roßmarkt with multiple producers selling many varieties of apple wine. This blog post offers a guide to the apple wine varieties.
  • 10 - 19 Aug - The Rheingauer Weinfest in Wiesbaden One of the largest wine festivals in the World which takes place at Wiesbaden’s Schlossplatz and Dern’sches Gelände. (Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof is the closest station. S1, S8, S9 depart Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min)
  • 16 Aug - Frankfurt Bahnhofsviertalnacht starting at 7pm. Roads are closed and the Bahnhofsviertal streets are handed over to the people of Frankfurt - drinks, food and music into the early hours.
  • 18 - 19 Aug - Frankfurt Bockenheim Weinfest, Weingarten, Bockenheim. Go along to Bockenheim and support their 2nd ever wine festival (we want to encourage them to host it every year!)
  • 17 - 20 Aug - Frankfurt 528th Fountain Festival in Sachsenhausen. A festival in old Sachsenhausen, celebrating the purity of the old water fountains. Yes, it has live music, food, drinks and a party atmosphere all weekend.
  • 24 - 26 Aug - Frankfurt Museumsuferfest starting at 3pm on Friday and finishing with fireworks on Sunday night. Stalls of arts, crafts and old books along the Museumsufer. Whilst on the riverside on both the north and south side of the Main river are music, food and drink booths. 
  • 29 Aug - 7 Sept - Frankfurt Rheingauer Weinfest A wine festival hosting a huge variety of Rheingau wine producers along the Fressgass' (Große Bockenheimer Straße). 

Festivals in September

  • On-going from Aug til 7th Sept - Frankfurt Rheingauer Weinfest A wine festival hosting a huge variety of Rheingau wine producers along the Fressgass' (Große Bockenheimer Straße). 
  • 1 - 2 Sept - Day of the open wine cellars in Rheingau. On these days, during September, vintners open the doors to their cellars and host special tastings and events. The link above lists the individual vintners and vineyards that are taking part. The event is repeated the following weekend on the 8th & 9th of September.
  • 1 Sept - Frankfurt Brücken.Wall Fest. A festival celebrating the shops, market, restaurant and bars on Brückenstraße and Wallstraße in Sachsenhausen.
  • 8 - 9 Sept - Day of the open wine cellars in Rheingau. On these days, during September, vintners open the doors to their cellars and host special tastings and events. The link above lists the individual vintners and vineyards that are taking part. 
  • 7 - 16 Sept - Autumn Dippemess, Frankfurt Ratsweg. Fair rides and fun for all the family, starting 2pm. (Take the U7 to Eissporthalle.)
  • 21 - 23 Sept Wine Market, Seligenstadt. Starting on Friday evening, throughout the weekend the old town is beautifully lit up in celebration of the wine fest. (Trains depart from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and Südbahnhof. you might need to change trains at Hanau, although there are direct trains too)
  • 14 - 16 Sept Gartenfest Schloss Wolfsgarten, Langen. A must for gardening enthusiasts. Entrance 14€.
  • TBC - 14 - 16 Sept - Rumpenheimer Kunsttage. Rumpenheim has a community of artists who throw open their doors to visitors. It's a great weekend centred around the Rumpenheim Schloss (Travel requires a car or a bike, or a 3km walk across pretty countryside from Arthur-von-Weinberg-Steg (Tram nr. 11)
  • 15 - 16 Sept - Weinfest am Morschberg, Geisenheim Local vintners offer samples of their Geisenheim wines.  (Regional RB10 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof for Geisenheim Bahnhof every hour throughout the week and the footpath to Morschberg is well signposted (approx 20-30 minute walk)
  • 20 - 22 Sept Frankfurt Harvest Festival, on Roßmarkt. From 10am - 8pm. Lots for the family to enjoy, and of course some food and drink!

Festivals in October

  • 12 - 15 Oct - Autumn Market & Fest (Herbstfest), Idstein Starting on the Friday through to Monday, hosted on Schlossplatz in the heart of this pretty old town. A family occasion plus musical entertainment.  (The RB22 runs hourly from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Idstein, every 2 hours on Sunday)
  • 13 - 14 Oct - Elisabethmarkt & Fest, Marburg. A pretty university town about 80km north of Frankfurt. Not only the market, but also Sunday opening for stores in the centre too. (Regional RB and IC trains run half hourly from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Marburg throughout the weekend. Buy a Hessen card, 35€, and up to five people can travel together)
  • 14 Oct - Harvest Festival, Bad Homburg. The Harvest festival is hosted along Louisastraße and stores will be open from 1pm until 6pm (S5 departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every 15 min on weekdays, every 30 mins at the weekend)
  • 19 - 21 Oct - Federweisser Days, Rüdesheim An opportunity to try the fresh new wine up from the local vintners. They'll be onion cake on sale too, to compliment the wine. Hosted over two weekends! (RB10 regional train departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every hour)
  • 26 - 28 Oct - Federweisser Days, Rüdesheim. The second weekend of the Federweisser Days. See 20-22 Oct. (RB10 regional train departs Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof every hour)


Cycle along the Nidda river

The Nidda river originates to the east in Vogelsberg and runs downstream to joins the River Main at Frankfurt-Höchst. The river arcs around the north of Frankfurt and has an excellent cycle path offering a gentle, almost no gradient, cycle ride with lots of varied and interesting sights along the way.

The cycle path is accessible from many points around Frankfurt, and you can cycle along the river bank for as far, or as little, as you like. One option is to cycle in one direction and travel back on the S-bahn train. S-bahn stops along the way: Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt-Berkersheim, Frankfurt-Eschersheim, Frankfurt-Rödelheim, Frankfurt-Nied and Frankfurt-Höchst.

From Höchst to Bad Vibel (about 23km)

Whether you start or finish your cycle ride in Höchst, the old town is worth a look around. The old castle is impossible to miss and at the heart of the pretty medieval town square. However, the cycle path is on the Schwanheim side of the river, so you will need to catch the small ferry boat (approx. 1€ fare) to cross over to the Höchst side.

Heading upstream along the Nidda and on the right bank, away from Höchst, the next place you'll come across is Schwanheim. Those of you with an interest geology might want to detour to the Schwanheim dunes, an area of sandy deposits in stark contrast to the usual flora and fauna found in the these parts. Schwanheim is very small but has a local historical museum and a children's zoo open on the weekends.

Continue along the cycle path and past the Grill'sche Weg Nied, where there is a small lake and a picnic spot for grilling. Just beyond Nied you pass under the motorway bridges (which are very low, so duck down as you cycle under!) After the bridges are numerous Schrebergartens to your left, and signs and pathways pointing to various Gaststätte. All the Gaststätte offer hearty food and refreshment, Haus Biegwald, and Gaststätte für Jedermann to name but two. You'll also see a few of the gardens have bee hives and one even offers honey for sale.

Next, the path leads you through Solmspark, a park with beautiful, soaring, trees and then onto the well maintained Brentanopark. On the left bank of the river, opposite Brentanopark is the pretty Petrihaus, a former place of 'retreat' for the Brentano family and saved from demolition in 1999.

At the end of Brentanopark, the cycle path takes you onto a bridge and across to the leftbank of the river. If you stop on the bridge, you might catch sight of the coypu who populate the Nidda. The local Gaststätte at the bridge has a biergarten and terrace overlooking the river (and has Weizenbier for 3,20€). However, if Indian food is what you are craving then cycle on for another kilometre to find Restaurant Nidda, with a terrace overlooking the river and serving plates of delicious Indian cuisine.

The next section of the river offers open fields and meadows, a real feel of escaping the city but it's not long before you discover yet another urban point of interest along the Nidda - Römerstadt! On the left bank, as you continue to cycle upstream, you'll spot some more Schrebergartens and a large fortress like wall. Beyond this wall is Römerstadt, a former Roman settlement and better known today as an area of 1930's housing designed by the architect Ernst May. The Ernst May Haus is open to the public, but check opening times.

After Römerstadt, use one of the bridges to cross over to the right bank and continue on your journey. In 5km you reach the old Bonames airfield, an area of conservation. The airfield itself is on the left bank. The old runway and air traffic control tower are still there along side the excellent Tower Cafe. If you are cycling through on a Sunday morning, the Fire Engine Museum is also open from 09:30 to 12:30.

The final stretch of this cycle ride takes you back along the right river bank through bucolic scenery and onto Bad Vibel. A small town famed for it's natural water source. It has a cute little old town, a pretty park and is rightly proud of it's Burgfestspiele, an old castle converted to an outdoor concert venue. It also has a quite a few ice-cream cafes, Eiscafe Milano is one of my favourites, and after that long cycle ride you deserve a treat, right!     


A day out at the Frankfurt zoo(s)

Frankfurt has two zoos which are open every day of the year. Even in winter they offer a great day out with plenty of indoor exhibits as well as the outdoor pens where the animals roam.

The City Zoo

Located just 1 km east of the city centre the city zoo has it own U-bahn stop, "Zoo" on the number 6 and 7 lines and tram number 14 also stops right outside.

The zoo houses 450 species of animals and birds, including Kumar and Vanni, the lion and lioness. There's a monkey house, an exotic bird house and even peacocks strut freely around the grounds. A bonus for those with young children is the opportunity to hire a pull-along cart (3€), which is ideal for carrying backpacks and even tired children and there is a special petting area with goats and sheep. The zoo has various pit-stops offering snacks and drinks along the way and an indoor cafe.

The "animal of the month" feature showcases an animal each month and has special events such as supervised feeding times and information sessions by the keeper. Regular daily feeding times for the other animals is detailed on-line, 

The zoo website offers some basic details in English, such as entrance fees and visiting times. Late night opening until 8pm is available on the last Friday of every month (except December). During the late night opening you can wander round at your leisure or join a tour (in German) which is themed each month. All this with a special 2€ price reduction on the regular entrance fee.  

Opel Zoo

Opel Zoo is located in Kronberg, a 15 minute drive outside of Frankfurt. Easily accessed by car, it can also be reached by taking the S4 train from Frankfurt to Kronberg Bahnhof and then either the bus lines 261, X26 and X27 to the bus stop "Opel-Zoo".

The zoo is set out in a large park, which is perfect for a gentle stroll through all the themed areas. A highlight at the Opel Zoo is feeding the animals. The zoo sells small packs of food and actively encourages the feeding of various animals. At the elephant house you might be lucky to see the elephant holding his trunk straight up in the air, as a sign he wants another carrot!

There is a lot to see here, the elephant house, the giraffe house, a petting zoo with sheep, goats, ponies and donkeys, and lots of other species. For young children there is even the opportunity for a pony or camel ride. Throughout the park are kiosks offering refreshment. The Sambesi cafe has great views across the park, or you can even bring your own food and make use of the picnic facilities provided.  

Frankfurt Carnival (Karneval) Parade - February 10th & 11th 2018

Karneval History

"Frankfurt Helau!" at the Karveval Parade

In Germany carnival is associated with the predominantly Roman Catholic states. Frankfurt maintains it carnival tradition because of it's historical ties to the Holy Roman Empire as both the election and coronation city of the Emperors. Today in Frankfurt the celebration mainly takes place in the form of parades and is a fun event for adults and children alike. For a full on carnival experience head to the Rhineland cities of Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz, the extensive festivities developed in these cities as a way of being subversive towards the occupying forces, e.g. the Prussians and the French, during the early 1800's. It was an opportunity to parody the occupiers and the military and, still today, parades march by with people dressed up in military costumes.   

Carnival officially commences on 11th November at 11:11, but the key celebrations start on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent and end by Shrove Tuesday. The main event is the street parade. Highly decorated floats pass by throwing sweets for the children and marching bands, some dressed up in military uniforms others in garish costume, provide musical entertainment. The crowd joins in by dressing up too.

Frankfurt Karneval 2018

In Frankfurt the main parade during 2018 takes place on Sunday 11th February. Starting at 12:11pm, the parade commences at Untermainkai/Untermainbrücke and takes the following route to the Römerberg:

Untermainkai/Untermainbrücke - Neue Mainzer Straße - Friedensstraße - Kaiserstraße - Roßmarkt - Goetheplatz - Rathenauplatz - Biebergasse - Hauptwache -Katharienenpforte - Bleidenstraße - Liebfrauenberg - Töngesgasse - Fahrgasse - Battonnstraße - Kurt-Schumacher-Straße - Fahrgasse - Braubachstraße - Römerberg - Mainkai

Childrens Karneval Parade

The Children's Karneval Parade will be on Saturday February 10th, starting at 12.11pm. The parade starts at Konstablerwache and walks through to Römerberg. 

Why do parades start at 12:11pm?

Why start a parade at 12:11pm and not 12 o'clock? One theory is the the number eleven, pronounced "elf" in German is an acronym of the French revolution cry of egalité, liberté, fraternité and the number 11 was a reference to the struggle of the German states, in the early 1800's, demanding democracy and liberty from the ruling classes.

Happy Karneval everyone! PS: Listen out for the traditional Frankfurt carnival cry of "Frankfurt Helau!"

Future Karneval dates

2018: February 11th - 13th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 14th
2019: March 3rd - 5th. Ash Wednesday falls on March 6th
2020: February 25th - 27th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 26th
2021: February 14th - 16th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 17th

That's right, just trundle your canon across the town square, why don't you!

International Holocaust Remembrance Day - January 27th

Eleven million victims

"By 1945, Germany had murdered over eleven million people in Europe: political prisoners, Roma, homosexuals, the disabled but in numerical terms, overwhelmingly - around six million - Jews." (MacGregor, 2014, p509)

I hope Neil MacGregor doesn't mind me opening a blog page with a quote from his excellent book, Germany: Memories of a Nation. 

During my work as a tour guide the majority of people I meet, from all over the World, earnestly believe that 6 million people where murdered during the holocaust. It shocks them to discover the number was closer to 11 million and that there were other groups who were actively victimised with the ultimate aim of annihilation. Frankfurt commemorates all. Memorials have been erected by the local council, by artists, companies, societies and by families of the victims, which exist around the streets of the city and exhibits are regularly put on public display as timely reminders. 

Stolperstein - Stumbling stones

By simply looking down on the ground you will sooner or later stumble upon a stumbling stone. Stumbling stones are an art initiative by Gunter Demnig, "...that commemorates the victims of National Socialism, keeping alive the memory of all Jews, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, dissidents and Jehovah's Witnesses and victims of euthanasia who were deported and exterminated." The commemorative brass stones are placed in the ground outside the last chosen residence of the victim with the opening words, "Here lived...", followed by a short narrative of the victim's fate. Frankfurt has it's share of the 61,000 stumbling stones which can be found across Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway and Ukraine.

Katharina Schmid's stumbling Stone (Stolperstein) murdered for being a Jehovah's Witness.

Katharina Schmid's stumbling Stone (Stolperstein) murdered for being a Jehovah's Witness.

Adlerwerke "Katzbach" - the concentration camp in Frankfurt

During World War Two a concentration camp existed the centre of Frankfurt, KZ-Katzbach at the Adlerwerke. Up to 1,600 victims were worked to death and by March 1945, as the defeat of the Nazis became a reality, the workers who had survived the atrocious working conditions were sent on a death march to Buchenwald and thereafter onto Dachau. Amongst them were Polish people arrested after the Warsaw uprising and German objectors to the National Socialist government. On the Adlerwerke building today hangs a memorial plaque to those victims so they are not forgotten. More information about the camp, albeit in German, can be found on the official KZ-Alderwerke website.

Roma memorial

On Braubachstrasse, hanging on the wall by number 20, is a memorial dedicated to the Roma people of Frankfurt who fell victim to the racial policies of the Nazis. It's a simple memorial but, nevertheless, it is there detailing the murder and sterilisation of the Roma. Last summer I also had the privilege to meet a man tending a grave in the Frankfurt cemetery. As I paused to look he called me over and explained the grave, he was so lovingly caring for, was that of his grandmother, a Roma, incarcerated at a concentration camp and who had survived the holocaust.

The Grey Buses

Another poignant memorial is that to the physically and mentally disabled victims of the holocaust. The image of a grey bus symbolises the collection and deportation of disabled people, deemed unworthy by the National Socialists, to one of six killing centres in Germany. One of these killing centres was located 80km north of Frankfurt, in Hadamar. The organised euthanasia program, named Action T4, systematically murdered 70,000 people. However, it is believed institutions practised localised euthanasia and, in total, between 1939 and 1945 approximately 300,00 mentally and physically disabled people were murdered. The Grey Buses exhibit is temporarily located in Frankfurt on Rathenauplatz/Goetheplatz until the end of May 2018.

The Frankfurter Engel

In 1994, the Frankfurter Engel was the first memorial in Germany to commemorate the persecution of homosexuals during the National socialist era. Men were targetted in greater numbers than women. Many were worked to death, others were forcibly experimented upon in order to find a "cure" for their condition. The Frankfurter Engel - the Frankfurter Angel, stands on the corner of Schäfergasse and Alte Gasse.

Jewish memorial at Neue Börneplatz

Since 1996 Neue Börneplatz, Frankfurt has been a dedicated memorial to the Jewish citizens who were murdered during the holocaust. The area was formerly the site of the Jewish market and the Börneplatz synagogue which was razed to the ground during Kristallnacht (11th November 1938).  The wall around the old Jewish cemetery, also at this site, displays 11,915 steel plaques which individually name each and every Jewish citizen of Frankfurt who was exterminated.

Further out of the city centre are other Jewish memorials. The most recent is the at the European Central Bank (ECB). Part of the building structure makes use of a former warehouse which used as a collection point from where the local Jewish people were forced to board trains and deported to their deaths. The signal box and railway lines outside the building, on public land, have been left as a reminder of the deportations. Within the ECB building a stark concrete ramp leads to the basement of the building, the former the collection point, with inscriptions from the victims and observers.

Details of the other Jewish memorials can be found using this link to Jewish Sites in Frankfurt.