11 sure signs autumn has arrived in Germany


Bursts of color

The days grow shorter, leaves change from green to vibrant yellows and reds, and temperatures drop - it's autumn again. From north to south, fall is a good time to visit Germany for traditional festivals and foods, hip events and even roosting wild birds.


Take to the skies

Autumn is a great time to fly kites. The German word for kite is "Drachen," which also means dragon. China is believed to be the country of origin of the kite, originally made of bamboo and silk. Here, kites dance in the wind along the Rhine River in Cologne.


Festival of Lights

Enchanting, surprising, creative - Light artists from all over the world illuminate Berlin's major attractions, like the above Brandenburg Gate, for 10 days in October. 2017 marks the illumination festival's 13th anniversary.


Chestnuts galore

For two days in October, adults and wide-eyed children line up at the new Haribo factory gates in Grafschaft south of Bonn, dragging heavy sacks or pulling carts full of chestnuts and acorns. The candymaker exchanges the nuts for gummy bears - 10 kilograms of chestnuts earmarked for deer parks are good for a kilo bag of sweets. The tradition goes back to 1936.


Time for a break

Every winter, 20,000 to 30,000 wild Arctic geese hibernate in the Bislicher Island wildlife sanctuary near Xanten, a town on the Rhine River. By October, most of the birds will have arrived at western Europe's largest resting place for wild geese. By the end of February, the flocks will have vanished - until next year.


Grape harvest time

It's wine festival and wine harvest time in German vineyards. The grape harvest for early wines has already begun. Ice wine grapes are picked in winter: they must be frozen, and need temperatures of at least -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit).


Empty beaches

Sylt, Germany's northernmost island, is a worthwhile destination even in fall, when a strong surf pounds windswept beaches. People out for a walk can expect to brave the elements but can enjoy some solitude, and perhaps an empty traditional wicker beach chair or two.


Traditional festivals

Munich's annual Oktoberfest isn't the only event of its kind in Germany, but it's arguably the most well-known, with millions of visitors from around the world. Millions of beer in hefty 1-liter mugs are consumed - and every year, the lost property office reports boxes filled with lost smart phones, keys, wallets and pairs of glasses.


Pumpkin patch

The city of Ludwigsburg hosts a monumental pumpkin exhibition with spectacular works of art made of hundreds of thousands of pumpkins. 500 varieties of this tasty fall vegetable from all over the world are on display.


Season of change

"The time of year when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang," as William Shakespeare aptly described the months prior to winter in his Sonnet 73.


Tasty treat

A Weckmann or Stutenkerl is a man-shaped pastry of sweet yeast dough that is especially popular for St. Martin's Day on November 11. You know it's fall when the dough-boys suddenly appear in every bakery in town. A traditional Weckmann is shaped by hand, has raisins for eyes and buttons - and a clay pipe coveted by children.

From wild geese to enticing sweet yeast dough pastries, grape harvests and wind-swept beaches, the signs of fall abound in Germany's urban and country landscapes.

Even without looking at the calendar, Germans are beginning to notice that fall is in the air: it's time to pack up the shorts and t-shirts, and pill out socks and sweaters as the days and nights are cooler. Pumpkin dishes appear on menus, children collect chestnuts for school projects, funfair operators set up ferris wheels and other attractions at fall fairs across the country and winemakers harvest their grapes.

And that's not all: Check out the picture gallery for other events that mark autumn in Germany.


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