The Cultural Heart of Germany

All You Need for Your Culture Agenda in 2016

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family reunion with Queen Victoria in 1894 on the occasion of a wedding in Germany
(c) Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha


Take a look at some of next year’s event highlights in the Cultural Heart of Germany where the regions of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia invite visitors to enjoy world-class festivals, exhibitions and special events.

Celebrate in Saxony with special anniversaries

Dresden’s ‘Kreuzchor’ boys’ choir, one of the world’s oldest and most famous, will be celebrating its 800th anniversary in 2016 and mark the event with a number of concerts and special performances throughout the year. As the choir of the city’s ‘Kreuzkirche’ (Church of the Holy Cross), the 130 voices of the 9 to 19 year-old choir members regularly turn church services into special musical occasions. In the anniversary year, visitors can enjoy ten days of concert highlights from 15 to 24 April including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, showcasing the impressive range and quality of this famous cultural institution, plus further special performances such as an open-air concert with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra on 19 August.

Another unique Dresden attraction turns 180 in 2016: The Saxon Paddle Steamer Company (Sächsische Dampfschifffahrt) runs the oldest and biggest paddle steamer fleet in the world and the nine wheel steamers, built between 1879 and 1929, are much loved by locals and visitors alike who can board the boats for short as well as day trips on the Elbe. Special highlights next year: A paddle steamer parade on 1 May and the ‘Riverboat Shuffle’ on 19 May which is part of the International Dixieland Festival and features bands playing on the boats.

Over in Leipzig, the work of German composer, pianist and organist Max Reger will take centre stage from 11 to 20 May and the 100th anniversary of his death will be commemorated with a series of organ concerts as well as performances by the Gewandhaus orchestra. Reger, who is particularly known for his organ pieces, worked in Leipzig for many years and died there in 1916. Plus, visitor favourites Leipzig Bach Festival (10 to 19 June) as well as the annual Schumann Festival week (10 to 19 Sep) are certain to attract classic music lovers from around the world.

Discover a forgotten dynasty in Thuringia

Ever heard of the Ernestines? Probably not but you still know them: ‘The Ernestines. A Dynasty Shapes Europe’ exhibition in Thuringia will next year re-invoke the era of this rulers who shaped the history of Germany and Europe for over 400 years. One of the Ernestine lines goes by the name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which has survived in some European monarchies including the current Royal Family, albeit as House of Windsor since a name change in 1917. The exhibition (24 April to 28 Aug) will be staged in Weimar as well as the Ducal Museum at Friedenstein Castle in Gotha, which received a Merit Award from the British Guild of Travel Writers last November.

Among the region’s many musical highlights, the Thuringia Bach Festival (18 March to 10 April) features the best of Baroque music in unique historic venues which add a special flair to Bach’s compositions. Next year’s Cathedral Steps Festival in Erfurt (11 to 28 August) will present Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca and anyone up for a spectacular open-air music event against the stunning backdrop of St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Severus Church should get their tickets early. A few miles away in Weimar, there’s more al fresco delights to be had from July to September with a whole array of ‘Weimar Summer’ events turning the town into an open-air stage, including modern and classical music concerts, street parties, food and fun.

Be modern in Saxony-Anhalt

The Bauhaus is arguably one of the most influential design schools ever, with artists, designers and architects worldwide still being influenced by the movement’s innovative ideas to this day. In 1926, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius moved his school from Weimar to Dessau where the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation commemorates the event with a special exhibition from 4 May 2016 to 6 January 2017 , highlighting in particular how the reform ideas of the Bauhaus artists are reflected in the region’s industrial history. Apart from Dessau with its UNESCO Bauhaus sights, the exhibition will take place in a number of different locations which will allow visitors to discover Saxony-Anhalt on the design trail, including some off-the-beaten-track destinations such as the industrial town of Leuna, medieval Merseburg, Elberingerode in the Harz Mountains as well as UNESCO World Heritage site Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt’s capital Magdeburg and Halle with its many cultural treasures.

Saxony-Anhalt also features heavily in the life of another very modern mind, namely Martin Luther. Leading up to 2017 and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, October 2016 will already see the re-opening of Wittenberg Castle with its Castle Church where Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door. The buildings, which are both part of Lutherstadt Wittenberg’s UNESCO World Heritage ensemble, have been extensively renovated and will feature a new information centre. Also planned for autumn 2016 is the opening of ‘Luther 1517′, a spectacular 360 degree panoramic painting by artist Yadegar Asisi in a specially designed building. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves into Wittenberg the way it was 500 years ago when Luther changed the world.



Travel information:

Easy access to the Cultural Heart of Germany: Ryanair to Leipzig and all major airlines to Berlin.