Imperial City Festival


Held in September, this festival brings the Middle Ages back to life with historical parades, traditional music, and medieval market stalls.

Imperial City Festival

Imperial City Festival

The Imperial City Festival (or Reichsstadt-Festtage) in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is truly a mesmerizing spectacle that transports tourists back to the memorable era of yore. This grandiose celebration, traditionally held on the first weekend of September, pays homage to the bygone imperial city days, bringing history back to life in the most vivid manner. If you are planning a trip to Germany or are interested in medieval sagas, this festival should be on your list of must-see events.

Every year, relaxed yet bustling Rothenburg transforms into a luminous stage filled with illuminations, marvelously costumed historical figures, music, and captivating theater shows. The magic of the festival begins at dusk when thousands of candles start twinkling around the city, creating an enchanting ambiance that beautifully complements the old-world charm of Rothenburg.

The Imperial City Festival is famous for its drama-filled historical plays. At this exciting event, over 1,000 Rothenburg citizens, dressed in traditional medieval costumes, piece together the riveting stories of the city's past. The historical performances beautifully encapsulate the city’s former wealth, its struggle during the Thirty Years' War, and the Plague, compellingly bringing history to life.

Fascinating medieval music performances are an essential component of the Reichsstadt-Festtage, sure to enthrall you. Various bands and musicians fully donned in medieval attire perform a wide range of period music from the medieval to baroque. The concerts present tuneful melodies reproduced with period instruments, offering a brilliant blend of entertainment, education, and an immersive historical experience.

One of the most engrossing parts of the festival is the Knight's Tournament. Here, helmets shine under the sun, swords clash, and spectators cheer for their favorite knights in an exhilarating display of equestrian agility and martial skills. Watching the riveting jousting bouts will transport you back to the Middle Ages, and you can almost imagine the times when chivalry was not just a concept but a way of life.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber's cityscape offers the perfect backdrop for the historical night watchman's tour, another highlight of the festival. Step back in time as the night watchman, with his spear and horn, guides you through the cobbled streets of the medieval city, narrating gripping tales of centuries gone by under the starlit sky. His engaging storytelling keeps everyone captivated and generates a bond between the present city and its historic past.

The streets of Rothenburg during the Imperial City Festival are brimming with food stalls selling delicious traditional German food and drinks. Treat yourself to succulent Bavarian sausages, lebkuchen (German gingerbread), and a variety of local beers and wines to round off your historical journey with a culinary accent.

The city also offers a variety of workshops, activities, and fun fairs, especially for children. The marketplace turns into a medieval playground with jugglers, puppet shows, and magicians providing wholesome entertainment for young visitors. This mix of education and recreation makes the festival an ideal choice for family vacations.

The grand finale of the festival is truly spectacular. The sky lights up with a vibrant firework display, reflecting off the city's charming old architecture. Each brilliant burst of color marks the end of the festival, leaving unforgettable memories imprinted in the minds of the spectators.

Visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber during the Imperial City Festival is not just a journey to a different location, but to a different time altogether. The festival is a marvelous opportunity to travel back to the Middle Ages, savor the essence of ancient traditions, and marvel at fascinating tales of chivalry and city fortitude. It's truly an unparalleled cultural adventure that leaves visitors spellbound, making Rothenburg auf der Tauber a worthwhile destination for enthusiastic travelers.