After learning that there was a Medieval Festival in Rothenburg the day after we visited, we couldn’t help but rearrange our plans to return for the festivities! It was another beautiful day, with clear blue skies and a perfect temperature, to boot.

The festival is technically called “Imperial City Days”, and started in 1974, when they celebrated the 700 year anniversary of achieving imperial status. Each year the residents organize themselves into historical groups to depict different occupations that existed during the course of their city’s history.


Immediately, it because clear that this was a very special day, indeed. How many days of your life do you get to see a knight in shining armor?


Presentations around the city abounded. We enjoyed watching a group of young children split wood (mostly the girls were doing the work, and the boys were taking tips)!



We were lucky enough to catch a small parade that included knights on horses, etc. Problem is…they didn’t block off the streets, so as we awaited the parade’s entrance through one of the old city archways/gates, a car zoomed to a halt just outside of its entrance, not able to get forward or backward.



The kids enjoyed watching the parade!



There was an entire area just outside of the city walls that hosted the Medieval tent encampment. It featured a giant carved wood chess set…


Men trying to squeeze into chainmail…


And a big bonus feature…a playground!


Booths were set up everywhere, displaying all sorts of different occupations (carpentry, metal work, basket weaving, etc). Oddly enough, they didn’t appear to be selling much of anything…so I wondered what the appeal is to get groups of people to do presentations like this? I guess if you have a passion, you’re willing to do it for free!  After all, they get to wear cool costumes for a day without being criticized Winking smile



Gotta love the wood clogs!  I wore wood clogs in high school (not quite this rustic)…you could hear me coming a mile away!



Someone was cooking some stew lunch!




It was certainly busier than the day before in Rothenburg, but still not overwhelming!


Performers lined different areas throughout the cities Smile




Everyone else was taking a photo when the clock struck 6, so I felt I should join in, too. But wait…it wasn’t 6! I think it was noon!  I decided they were all taking photos of the characters in the windows on either side that popped alive when the clock chimed…but apparently people seemed to think it was a big deal. Sometimes you wonder if one person starts it all…and then others nearby wonder what he is taking a photo of, so they wait, too…until it’s 200 people watching a clock!


They have a cool central plaza!



Watch out…these things were HOT!


The kids really enjoyed watching the blacksmith!


Does this guy not look a little bit like Nicolas Cage, or what?



Just as we had decided to call it a day, we passed a lady who insisted that the kids come put a fishing poll in a tank. She then told us in English that there were free kids activities all over the city, and she gave us a flier that listed over 20 activities with a spot for the kids to get a stamp from each one!


Well, that would have been great fun…but…we were done!  Next time!

A blog commenter recently recommended the Night Watchman tour in Rothenburg…so if you’re headed there anytime soon, check that out! I wish we had known! Also, they have fireworks the first night before the Festivals begin (so it technically last 2 1/2 days). The information center in town happily supplies you maps and schedules in English for your visit.


My name is Alisa, and I am off traveling the world with my adventurous husband and rambunctious 3 small children. I take joy in the beauty of the world around me, I love making memories with my family, and I enjoy sharing our travels with others!

5 Responses to “Medieval Festival in Rothenburg, Germany”

  1. I LOVE that kind of festival! My girls love to watch blacksmiths at work too. And I agree, most time in those festivals there isn’t much to sell. It’s all about sharing a passion! Love this too!

  2. I’m so glad you fell in love with Rothenberg. Yes, the Night Watchman is a great tour, about an hour, fact filled – he knows his stuff, and entertaining. The story behind the clock, or “Meistertrunk”: During the Thirty Years’ War in 1631 the Imperialist General Tilly had at last succeeded in taking the town in spite of its valiant defense. So he gave orders to plunder and destroy the town and to execute the councillors. The next day the cellarman offered Tilly a 3 1/4 liter “bumper” of heavy Franconian wine as a welcome drink. Tilly promised mercy to the town if one of the councillors managed to drink the wine in one mighty draught. Mayor Nusch qctually emptied the bumper in ten minutes and thus saved the town from being destroyed. Then he slept three days and nights and died 37 years later, at the age of 80. Now the Night Watchman says this is a lovely story, but not true. Still, a great legend.

  3. I just loved the festivals in Germany–Medieval are especially great! Looks like lovely fall weather too! Thanks for posting all the great photos!


    Thanks so much for taking the time to share about your experience in Rothenburg! Have been trying all morning/afternoon to get info about whether you need to buy some type of pass to attend this festival/enter the city, etc. I didn’t want to assume anything or book a hotel and be disappointed when we got there. Was trying to avoid an expensive overseas phone call to ask questions. do you have advice about where to get a schedule of events, placement of certain activities around the city, where the parades(s) start and end,etc and phone numbers (maybe in the U.S.) where I wont get hooked into some tour agency wanting to “guide” me their way? I don’t facebook, but have family members who do. Would appreciate any reassurance if I’m making this too complicated! (i.e. Is it like festivals in the U.S. where you just book a hotel nearby and simply show up and enjoy?)

    • Hi Robin! I would contact the local tourism office (I know there is one–we stumbled upon it!) that can help you out. With a festival like this going on, you will be better off to book your hotel in advance. You should be able to contact the tourism office online via email instead of making a phone call–and same thing with reserving a hotel (I’m sure they’ll have hotel recommendations)! It goes over the weekend–I believe a Saturday and Sunday–and there’s stuff going on all day, everywhere. I believe the tourism office may even have a map of what to find where (event-wise). But it’s not complicated…just show up and enjoy! 🙂 Have fun!

      Here is the tourism office website, I believe:

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