Foto: Staedel Museum
Below we have compiled an overview of some of the main attractions the region has to offer you and your family. It does not claim to be complete, but simply to whet your appetite to go out and find out for yourself what suits you best.
Frankfurt Rhine-Main is so diverse that it’s often difficult to get a grasp of the many cultural offerings. One of the few organizations providing a comprehensive overview is the KulturRegion Frankfurt Rhine-Main, a nonprofit organization of 46 different municipalities and counties from the region. The KulturRegion coordinates a wide range of programs under the slogan “Culture in the Region – Culture for the Region.” The projects range from industrial heritage (Route der Industriekultur Rhine-Main) to parks and public gardens (GartenRhineMain) to the history of democracy (Geist der Freiheit). Each spring, KulturRegion also organizes an international theater festival for young audiences (Starke Stücke). The industrial culture festival (Tage der Industriekultur) is a nine-day event held each summer that offers access to hist-orical, desolate and/or out-of-service industrial sites. The annual program “Museen und Sonderausstellungen”showcases exhibitions in about 90 museums in the region.
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The Dr. Teufel wine shop is the oldest and most experienced wine shop in Frankfurt. It is family-owned and managed by Dr. Manfred Teufel in the second generation.
Another favorite way for locals to amuse themselves is the Straßenfest (street or block party). These are pleasant events organized and sponsored by local governments and local businesses. Though these celebrations differ greatly in size and sprawl, they typically spread over several streets, sometimes a mile or so along riverbanks (such as Frankfurt’s famed Mainuferfest in August). These street parties typically feature stands hawking various kinds of food and drink, games, and public relations or informational services. The larger ones also feature amusements for the kids, and everything is accompanied by lively bursts of live and/or recorded music.
In Frankfurt Rhine-Main, the street festivals are typically held in summer when they can take advantage of the nice weather and assure the best turn-out. A special type of festival that occurs a little later in the year, as the first harvests start coming in, are the various wine festivals. These events take place primarily in small towns and villages in the wine-growing areas, especially in the Rheingau. The music, good cheer and food are similar to street festivals, though as the name suggests, most of the stands at a wine festival offer the latest wines, with many local vintners maintaining their own stands.
Held every August, the Museumsuferfest is an international gala of food, music, theater and museum exhibitions straddling both banks of the RiverMain. This three-day festival first saw the light of day in the late 1980s to highlight Frankfurt’s unique museum embankment. Over the course of the festivities, museums open their doors free of charge to thousands of visitors from all over the world – in fact in 2018, the open-air party attracted some 1.8 million visitors. One highly popular event are the Chinese dragon boat races on the river – many corporations enter teams – another the concerts on the 10 or so stages on both sides of the river. The festival is normally held in late August.
Jazz Festival in Idstein
The Hessen Jazz festival in Idstein is traditionally held the first weekend of the state’s summer school vacation. Shows are held on 12 stages throughout the city and all Jazz styles are represented – Blues, Swing, Fusion, Modern, etc. Activities for children and other events about jazz complete the program.
The classical music concerts in Weilburg Castle mark one of the highpoints of Hessen’s cultural summer. The series of around 40 concerts from June to August are performed in the opulent and extremely acoustic Renaissance hall of the Weilburg Castle, the castle church or the conservatory (Orangerie). The patron of the concert series has traditionally been Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, the great grandson of the last Duke of Nassau, in whose castle the concerts are performed.
Rheingau Musik Festival
What started out as a small series of classical music concerts in 1988 has grown into an internationally-recognized summer musical event across nine weeks, from June to September. More than 100 concerts are staged at nearly 40 different locations throughout the Rheingau – one of Germany’s most beautiful winegrowing regions – including Kloster Eberbach, Schloss Johannisberg and Schloss Vollrads. Classical music remains the main attraction, but in recent years the festival has embraced cabaret, jazz and readings. Many of the performances are also accompanied by extraordinary culinary offerings that are, of course, served with excellent regional wine.
One of the most impressive and lively variations on street festivals is the Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindel-markt (Christmas market). Actually,the Weihnachtsmarkt predates street festivals by several centuries; originally, they were markets set up in major towns to allow craftspeople to sell their wares before Christmas. This origin is preserved in today’s versions, where you’ll find numerous small stands offering a vast array of small and large crafts items. Fittinglyenough, the Christmas market is also where you’ll bag the best selections of and best buys on Christmas decorations (remember that Germans started the Christmas tree tradition). There are also stands selling pottery, woodcraft and hand-crafted jewelry. In addition, there are frequently rows of stalls selling various other wintry articles.
All this shopping and gazing invariably leaves you hungry and thirsty, so any self-respecting Christmas market includes a bounty of stalls offering Christmas season sustenance. A particularly popular drink is Glühwein, a sweet, hot mulled red wine. Many Christmas-season candies, cookies and gingerbread are also a standard part of Christmas markets. Seasonal sustenance of a more substantial variety is available in the form of potato pancakes or a thick, hearty broth that can be a light meal in itself (Common varieties include pea, lentil, Serbian bean, and goulash soup).
In this region, Frankfurt’s is the largest and most crowded. It starts at the little passageway north of the river fronting Historisches Museum, then runs up through the Römerberg, all the way to just below the Hauptwache. These Christmas fairs are such a deeply ingrained part of life that they even turn up in most small towns. They usually open in late November and run for about four weeks. But plan your visits carefully! Christmas markets usually close down a few days before Christmas, so if you run over to your local Weihnachtsmarkt on the 23rd or 24th with some last-minute shopping in mind, you are liable to get an unpleasant surprise.
Regional Park RheinMain
Frankfurt Rhine-Main is defined by its diversity and while each of the cities and towns has its own cultural heritage, there have been numerous regional projects over the past years to instill a sense of belonging. One excellent example of this cooperative spirit is the Regional Park RheinMain. Now, over 15 years since it was first launched, Regional Park RheinMain has evolved into a comprehensive network of parks, gardens, art installations, lakes, picnic areas, castles and much more. The park stretches out along 190 kilometers of well-marked routes and incorporates both new and existing attractions. Two of the many highlights include the former US Army airfield in Bonames (converted into a park) and a winding bike trail along the historic Hohe Straße.
Taunus Information Center
The Taunus hills are often considered Frankfurt’s playground. The Taunus offer a wide range of recreational activities year round – hiking mountain biking, cross-country skiing, walking and mountain climbing. The Taunus is also a treasure trove of history, including the Saalburg Roman fort, castles and quaint villages with half-timbered houses. The quiet vistas of the Taunus, with its geological formations and diverse wildlife, can make the hustle and bustle of Frankfurt seem very distant. A great place to start is the Taunus Information Center at Hohemarkstraße 192 close to the subway stop.
Founded in 1868, the Frankfurt Palmengarten in the West end district is the region’s premier botanical gardens with a wide selection of tropical plants, marvelously stylish greenhouses, and exhibitions. The large complex allows one to stroll through the world’s tropical regions at one’s leisure. The plants are arranged largely according to their natural habitats, such as rain forest, mangrove, monsoon and savannah. Guided tours and lectures are held regularly and exhibitions on botanical matters are arranged in the galleries throughout the year. For the kids, there are several playgrounds and a functioning miniature train. The garden is open daily.
Aboretum Main Taunus
Located on a former military airfield, the Aboretum is one of the most successful post-Cold War conversion projects in the region. The airfield was originally built by the German Luftwaffe, but the US Army used the facility after World War II and then eventually returned it to the German government. The 76-hectare plot nestled between the towns of Schwalbach, Sulzbach and Eschborn was then converted into an arboretum to ecologically compensate for the Frankfurt Airport expansion plans. What resulted is an expansive nature park with a collection of over 600 trees, bushes and plants from Europe, Asia and North America. The Arboretum also features horseback riding trails and ecological nature walks.
Foto: 4th Life Photography - stock.adobe.com