I have already pointed out several times in this blog that Worms is rich in culture and history. But history also needs to be lived! With this in mind, there are numerous festivals and cultural events in Worms that are linked to the city’s 2000-year history. In addition to these, let’s say niche events such as “wunderhoeren” or the “SchUM Kulturtage”, there are also numerous events in the city that can delight young and old alike. These include, of course, the largest wine and folk festival on the Rhine, the Backfischfest. Those looking for musical entertainment will be in good hands at Jazz & Joy and those who prefer to learn more about Worms’ wine culture will also find plenty on offer. Below I have put together a small overview of the most important and interesting festivals/events for interested visitors to Worms and conveniently included the corresponding links:
Hollyworms – The long short film night on 13 April in the Mozart Hall in Worms
When the Mozartsaal is transformed into a cinema, passionate film fans know that it can only be Hollyworms. For several hours, the Mozart Hall is dedicated to short films, which in turn know how to inspire with their range. In co-operation with four renowned universities, short films from a wide range of genres will be shown. The short films, some of which have won awards, range from exciting dramas and entertaining comedies to profound films. Between the screenings, a panel discussion moderated by myself will offer insights behind the scenes of film-making.
Admission to Hollyworms is free. It starts at 5 pm.
Worms Wine Mile from 18 to 21 April 2024
It goes without saying that wine is an important topic in the third-largest wine-growing municipality. From the end of February to the beginning of November, the “market winegrowers” invite you to enjoy wine on Saturdays in the immediate vicinity of the weekly market. At the end of April, you can stroll along the historic town wall on the wine mile. Along the city wall moat, 20 Worms winegrowers from Worms present high-quality wines. Of course, there will also be plenty to eat and drink. The wine enjoyment is accompanied by musicians who invite you to rock out and sing along on two stages along the wine mile. The mile begins at Parmaplatz, in the immediate vicinity of the Wormser Vinothek, and ends at “Wergers Eck” opposite the Jewish cemetery “Heiliger Sand”. Admission is of course free.
Vino et Musica from 9 to 11 May at the Helmut Kloos winery
Helmut Kloos is a true Worms original. Not only was he the first winegrower in the Nibelungen city to convert his business to organic winegrowing back in the early 1990s, but his name also stands for culture and a mischievous, often quirky sense of humour. You will encounter both during a visit to the popular Vino et Musica farm festival. In addition to the presentation of the 2021 vintage wines, the winegrower offers a varied programme of music ranging from folk and rock to world music on Ascension Day weekend. The programme opens on the public holiday with a wine tasting. On three evenings, the small winery will be transformed into an open-air concert arena. Naturally, small Palatinate and Rhine-Hessian delicacies ranging from hearty to light will be served to accompany all programme items. Those who would like to hear and taste more from Helmut Kloos have the opportunity to do so at the Worms Christmas market during the Advent season. He regularly runs his mulled wine stall there, which is also accompanied by an entertaining programme including an improvised unicorn carousel.
Further information: www.weingut-kloos.de
Worms Whitsun market from 18 to 26 May at the festival Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Worms Whitsun Market from 18 to 26 May on the fairground
The Worms Whitsun Market is an unconventional hybrid event consisting of a funfair and a trade show. On the fairground section, which is located on the southern half of the fairground, you will find the usual mixture of rides, food stalls, garden restaurants and fairground stalls. Whereas the Whitsun market used to be a trade show, today the focus is on the funfair. Although there are no longer any trade fair tents as there used to be, there is a traders’ mile where primarily regional tradespeople and local organisations present themselves. The THW’s own presentation was met with great interest in this context. Curious visitors will probably also be able to take a look at the equipment used to save lives in the worst-case scenario in 2024. Admission to the merchant mile and the fair is free. While the funfair is open until 11 pm, the trade section closes at 9 pm. Incidentally, even the Worms Whitsun market has a historical background. As the city was granted market rights by Emperor Frederick II back in 1243, the people of Worms were now able to hold a fair for a fortnight after Easter. The market was given its current appearance in 1972.
Spectaculum from 10 to 12 May in Wormser Wäldchen
The medieval market, which is held on a green meadow in Wormser Wäldchen, is one of the largest of its kind in southern Germany. Around 20,000 people regularly flock to the city park this weekend to spend time among Roman legionaries, fantasy figures and, of course, knights. For a modest entrance fee, the festival offers a mixture of a merchants’ mile, naturally with medieval products, a jugglers’ market, an open-air festival (there are two stages) and a tent camp for people in costume. In addition, field battles are staged for the public and duels with sword and morning star are fought. Anyone interested in learning more about the way of life in medieval times can find what they are looking for at the various workshops. Most of the programmes are free of charge. Medieval garb is welcome, but not compulsory for this immersion in another world. The programme will be announced in mid-April.
Further information (programme, times, prices, corona rules etc.): https://www.spectaculum-worms.de
Worms Culture Night at the end of June in the city centre (exact date to be announced)
For Worms’ cultural coordinator Dr David Maier, the Culture Night is the best festival in the city centre, as it is an event organised by Worms residents for Worms residents and visitors. At the opening of the Culture Night, Mayor Stephanie Lohr said with regard to the Nibelungs: “The true treasure of Worms is culture. In this respect, you can find many treasures on this night, or rather evening. The focus is on local artists who present their art in unusual locations throughout the city centre. Whether painting, music, theatre, cinema or other forms of expression, visitors can be sure of a varied programme after a two-year break. This Saturday evening of culture also offers visitors the opportunity to stroll around with a glass of wine in their hand and discover the most beautiful corners of the Nibelungen city centre. The event usually starts at 7 pm. In previous years, visitors have been able to choose between 30 programme items at just as many locations. There should certainly be something for everyone. As there is a charge for the event, a wristband must be purchased in advance at one of the box offices or in advance. This will give you access to all venues. The wristband also allows free admission to the Worms museums during the day. Costing just 12 euros, the wristband is an inexpensive key to the true treasures of Worms.
Nibelungen Festival “The Diplomat” from 12 July to 28 July
Information is still scarce. What is known is that a creative trio is coming together in Worms this year, having already enjoyed great success in 2018 with the play “Siegfried’s Heirs”. Then as now, the author duo Feridun Zaimoglu and Günter Senkel are responsible for the polished words. Swiss director Roger Vontobel, who last brought “hildensaga. ein königinnendrama” to the mighty stage in front of the cathedral in Worms in 2022, guarantees the visually stunning realisation. The theatre director, who has a soft spot for cinema, is known for treating his stage like a screen.
Under the title “The Diplomat”, the legendary figure Dietrich von Bern takes centre stage this year. While the two authors dealt with the consequences of the slaughter at Etzel’s court in “Siegfried’s Heirs”, they are now returning to the eve of the war. The moment when Dietrich of Bern, knowing that Kriemhild wants revenge, rides towards the Wormsers in order to avert the catastrophe. Whereas Dietrich von Bern was previously more of a minor character, this time he is at the centre of the story. The authors were inspired by the real-life events surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the so far unsuccessful attempts at mediation. As an example, Thomas Laue described the image that went around the world when Olaf Scholz sat across from Putin at an oversized table to prevent the war. Something he famously failed to do. Senkel then also described this conflict, diplomatic solutions vs. warmongering, as a primal conflict. The exciting thing about Dietrich von Bern’s character is that, as a former king, he knows the suffering that war can bring to people. Theories suggest that the legendary figure of Dietrich von Bern is based on the historical Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great, who ruled the province of Ravenna. Incidentally, the Bern in the name of the exiled king Dietrich does not stand for the Swiss city, but for the medieval name of the Italian city of Verona, modelled on Ravenna. While Theodoric retained his kingdom, the legendary figure of Dietrich was driven out of his realm and eventually found refuge with the Huns.
In the Song of the Nibelungs, this refuge soon becomes hell. This will also be reflected on stage, as parts of the play are set during the murderous conflict. Director Vontobel, who is completing his triple bill in Worms with this production after “Siegfried’s Heirs” and “Hildensaga.ein königinnendrama”, promised in this context the “darkest Kriemhild” yet seen. His view of the world was no less pessimistic in the conversation. “The world needs a lot of light, but all I see is gloom.” Before the authors presented a small sample of their text, Nico Hofmann concluded in an equally pessimistic tone: “Ask me why we don’t learn anything”. With a view of the warlike goings-on in front of Worms Cathedral, it is perhaps somewhat inappropriate to speak of anticipation. It should certainly be exciting and visually impressive when Vontobel invites the audience on a journey into the darkness. Or will it be hope that triumphs in the end?
Nothing was known about the actors at the time of writing. However, the cast is usually a mixture of well-known actors from film or TV and lesser-known but renowned theatre actors. In the past, greats such as Jürgen Prochnow, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Uwe Ochsenknecht have appeared on the stage in front of Worms Cathedral. The play will be staged by Swiss director Roger Vontobel, who is one of the directing stars of German-language theatre and is well known to Worms residents. He staged “Siegfried’s Heirs” back in 2018 and delighted the press and audience alike. Vontobel is characterised by an opulent visual language that does not shy away from the use of elaborate video technology. For example, he used a targeted video installation to make the awe-inspiring cathedral tremble before the eyes of the audience of “Siegfried’s Heirs”. This year too, Vontobel wants to impress the eye as much as the mind of the audience. Most recently, he wowed the audience with an extravagant water landscape in the production “hildensaga.ein königinnendrama” and in the visually impressive finale, the director brought a veritable spooky forest to life before the audience’s eyes, including the silhouette of an overpowering Mario Adorf (!). The set is designed by Danish set designer Palle Steen Christensen, who has worked with Vontobel for many years
The festival will be accompanied by a cultural programme. The programme is wide-ranging and includes everything from concerts to a scientific colloquium organised by the Nibelungenliedgesellschaft. This year’s most prominent guest in the accompanying programme is the actress Nina Petri. She will be giving a reading entitled “Unheimlich!”, in which she will perform a selection of horror stories. The programme includes authors such as Erich Kästner, Heinrich Heine, Christian Morgenstern, Franz Kafka and Bram Stoker, peppered with interesting scientific, philosophical and historical insights. The experienced audio book narrator promises a tingling “goose bump feeling”.
Tickets and further information can be found here: https://www.nibelungenfestspiele.de/nibelungenfestspiele/2024/Programm/Kulturprogramm-2024.php
The “Theatre Encounters” are an integral part of the Nibelungen Festival. On Sunday morning (14 July) from 11 a.m., artistic director Nico Hofmann, director Roger Vontobel, the authors and artistic director Thomas Laue will meet for an interview in the cosy atmosphere of Heylshof Park. The event will be moderated by the well-known film critic Rüdiger Suchsland. In terms of content, the discussion will focus on the background to the play, but will also reflect on the initial reactions of viewers and critics. Between the discussion rounds, there will also be musical samples from the musicians of the play “The Diplomat”.
Families can look forward to the Children’s and Family Day (21 July). On this day, the dignified festival idyll in the park has to give way to the colourful hustle and bustle of the children. Theatre performances, handicrafts, face painting, walking acts and games promise a high fun factor. The event is free of charge. However, tickets are required. These must be ordered in advance via the festival’s ticket service.
Information and tickets: www.nibelungenfestspiele.de
Jazz & Joy from 16 to 18 August
The festival has been one of the region’s top festivals for 33 years. As the name suggests, jazz plays a not insignificant role. However, the programme is dominated by the joy factor. Spread over four stages around Worms Cathedral, the audience has the opportunity to listen to around 30 bands over the weekend. The festival also invites visitors to take a leisurely stroll, accompanied by numerous caterers and winegrowers offering wine and other delicacies outside the festival stages. The largest stage is located on the market square in front of the town hall. Last year, stars such as Alice Merton, Ray Wilson and Gentleman performed there. However, the programme for 2024 has not yet been decided. All that is known is the artist for the special concert, which will also take place on the market square on the Friday of the festival (16 August) and requires an extra ticket. This year, Alvaro Soler promises a relaxed summer concert in the heart of the city. Soler is one of the most successful and popular Latin pop stars in Europe. With his catchy melodies and beats, the German-Spanish singer is a hit with millions of fans.
Tickets and information: www.jazzandjoy.de
Backfischfest from 24 August to 1 September
For many Worms residents, the Worms Backfischfest is the definitive highlight of the year. It is also the largest festival along the Rhine, combining a folk festival and a wine festival. For wine lovers, the Wonnegau wine cellar, which brings together around 50 Rhine-Hessian winegrowers with their grape juices, and the Stiftskeller, which also presents an impressive number of wines from Rhine-Hesse and the Palatinate, are popular places to visit. The Wonnegau wine cellar, which is housed in a marquee, attracts almost 2,000 visitors. In normal times, this means that the tent is very full, especially at weekends. It is safe to assume that in times of Corona, the number of visitors is likely to be somewhat smaller. In addition to delicious wines, the “Weinkeller” also attracts visitors with live music and DJ parties, where one or two couples are said to have found each other during the course of the evening.
The fairground itself is also lined with fairground rides, including the obligatory Ferris wheel, fairground stalls such as can throwing and dart throwing, as well as a wide range of catering. Of course, a Backfischfest also includes a proper fried fish, which you can get at the fish fry not far from the wine cellar. The word “Backfisch” has a double meaning in relation to the festival. On the one hand, it refers to the fishermen’s guild, which was strongly represented in Worms on the Rhine in earlier years, and on the other hand, the word refers to young, pretty women. So there is also an official Backfischbraut every year. She, in turn, can be found at the side of the “Bojemääschters vun de Fischerwääd”. The Fischerwääd, of which there are actually two, the Große and Kleine, is a street that was once mainly inhabited by fishermen. Today, the street, which is in the immediate vicinity of the fairground, symbolises the customs of that guild. A museum in the Große Fischerweide (as it is called in official German) commemorates this important occupational group for Worms. The Fischerwäderkerb is also celebrated in this street on the Wednesday of the Backfischfest. The accompanying programme of the ten-day festival also includes an elaborate parade on the first Sunday, which runs through the entire city centre and ends in the Fischerwääd. The Backfischfest concludes on the last Sunday with a visually intoxicating fireworks display over the Rhine.
Information at: www.backfischfest.de
Festival of Cultures (mid-September, date to follow)
The only festival in the city that gives multicultural Worms a face has also had to succumb to the virus and this year, after two years of abstinence, will once again take place at its traditional location on the Obermarkt. This meeting of cultures is organised by the “Intercultural Round Table”. In addition to all kinds of delicacies from the participating associations, there is plenty of information and a small but excellent cultural programme. Especially in a city like Worms, where around 30 per cent of the population has a migrant background, this festival is particularly important, because the key to peaceful coexistence lies in understanding the other culture and you can get to know it there.
Information and link to follow
Worms Wine Fair (beginning of November, exact date to follow)
As mentioned elsewhere in my blog, Worms is the third largest wine-growing municipality in Germany and Rheinhessen is the largest wine-growing region. So what could be more natural than to bring many winegrowers together in one place to give people an overview of the diverse products. But it shouldn’t stop at an overview, because no brochure or entertainment can replace tasting. But beware, anyone with the ambition to get to know all the wines should have had a good meal beforehand. With around 30 winegrowers and, accordingly, around 300 to 350 wines on offer, it is almost impossible to get a complete overview. Many visitors therefore opt for a two-day visit to the fair. While Saturday is dedicated to white wines, Sunday is devoted to red wines and rosés.
Information at: www.weinstadt-worms.de
Wormser Weihnacht at the end of November until 23 December in the city centre
Wormser Weihnacht is probably one of the few Christmas markets whose route winds directly through a pedestrian zone, making it the perfect combination of Christmas shopping and a mulled wine chat. Around 35 stalls wind their way through the city centre. As in other cities, there is the tried and tested mix of mulled wine, bratwurst, crêpes and all kinds of traders offering more or less Christmassy treats. An interesting eye-catcher are the so-called swap stalls. These can be hired by clubs, businesses or even private individuals and guarantee a certain amount of variety between knitted socks and scented candles. What you shouldn’t miss is a visit to the organic winegrower Helmut Kloos (see also Vino et Musica) on Am Römischen Kaiser, which is being re-designated as Philosophenplatz during these weeks. The winegrower doesn’t just serve his mulled wine. No, Helmut Kloos lives and breathes this market. Every year, he comes up with a story for his stall that addresses current topics in an amusing way. His hand puppets (!) the Glühweingretel and Mrs Kuddelmuddel, who also like to have a little chat with the guests, are cult favourites. Kloos provides a colourful and varied supporting programme with concerts, short readings and the singing of Christmas carols together. The highlight is, of course, the flavoursome organic mulled wine, which is made directly on site and is therefore unbeatable in terms of freshness. The mulled wine is available in white and red. For those who like it alcohol-free, the Wunschpunsch is highly recommended. While most mulled wine caterers sell heated juices as a non-alcoholic variant, the Wunschpunsch is also a creation on a par with mulled wine, the recipe for which the winemaker naturally does not reveal. The largest mulled wine meeting point is located on the Obermarkt in front of the district court. Two families of showmen offer their warming drinks there. The focus here is less on culture. The focus is more on an apres-ski atmosphere, so it should be possible for every Christmas market visitor to find a cosy spot to suit different tastes.
SchUM Cultural Days (October 2024)
The dates and content of this year’s “SchUM Kulturtage”, which can also be found under the name “Jüdische Kulturtage”, are also unknown. This series, which has been running for a few years now, has taken on a very special significance following its inclusion on the Unesco World Heritage List. After all, it is not enough to manage the historical heritage, it should also be filled with life. Last year, this included the publication of a second book on the “Stumbling Stones” laid in Worms and the impressive permanent reading “I want to bear witness…” with regionally renowned reciter Karl-Heinz Deichelmann. So it will be interesting to see what this small but excellent cultural festival has to offer this year. The Culture Days are coordinated with the two other World Heritage cities of Mainz and Speyer, as events are also being organised there.
Wunderhoeren – Days of old music and literature
In one of the oldest cities in Germany, it is of course a must to draw attention to medieval culture alongside a medieval market for the masses. Every two years since 2011, the niche festival has provided an excursion into the art of medieval composition and writing. This does not mean that there is only minstrelsy to be heard at the concerts, as the organisers do not shy away from crossovers between genres and eras, so that contemporary interpretations of the subject matter are also heard. There is no specific programme. Five events are planned throughout the year.
Further information: www.wunderhoeren.de
WOpen Air from 19 July to 4 August at the Medienpark Vision company premises (Alzeyer Straße)
The WOpen Festival is the youngest festival in Worms and yet has long been established. It was born out of necessity, because when the first lockdown was declared in 2020, this was tantamount to a professional ban for the two organisers Patrick Mais and Christian Ruppel. Patrick Mais actually runs the Kinowelt Worms cinema, while Ruppel is an event technician who provides events throughout Germany with the perfect sound and sets the stage in the right light. A team that complements each other perfectly. The WOpen Air took place in summer 2020 under corona-compliant conditions, i.e. in the open air, with a limited number of seats and appropriate distancing. Of course, that is now a thing of the past, but this special festival has remained. As the event takes place in a residential area, more precisely on the premises of Christian Ruppel’s company Medienpark Vision, technician Ruppel came up with something very special to avoid disturbing the neighbours with noise, namely the use of headphones. In addition to silent enjoyment of cinema screenings, concerts, comedy and more, this technology also offers the option of choosing between at least two languages for films. A fun example of this is a DJ battle that took place on the WOpen Air stage last year. The spectators/listeners could switch between three DJs. If you took off your headphones, it looked and sounded a little bizarre how the visitors sang or danced to their respective DJ. The programme is varied. The focus is on films, but in between there are also wine tastings, poetry slams, an after-work party and a DJ battle. You can take a seat on comfortable beach loungers or in a Hollywood swing. There you can enjoy the programme, the weather and the delicious cocktails on offer.
Information and the programme will be available in due course at www.kino-worms.de
Winter Revue from December at the Worms Conference Centre (Mozartsaal)
Like the WOpen Air, event technician Christian Ruppel has a hand in this sensory revue. The concept may be familiar from other dinner shows. A three or, in this case, four-course menu is responsible for the culinary temptation, while artists from a wide variety of fields amaze the guests between the individual courses. The artists range from magic and comedy to breakneck artistic feats. Experienced media professional Ruppel also ensures the right acoustic and visual design for the spectacle. In short, a visit to the Winter Revue is comparable to a short holiday. The motto: simply unwind for an evening and indulge in the diverse attractions.