Augsburg, Germany - Savvy travelers know that an ideal time to tour Germany is in late summer and autumn, when the weather is mild and sunny and the busy summer tourism is concluding. Many of the 14 member cities of Historic Highlights of Germany are offering a wide array of compelling late summer and autumn activities that should sate the interests of nearly every type of traveler and enhance their experience: music festivals covering a range of genres, from jazz to classical to chamber and orchestra; regional selections of Germany's renowned beer, wine and local cuisine; and special museum events, theatrical performances and open-air art shows.
Each city features its own special set of activities, with Regensburg, Erfurt, Mainz, Trier and Wurzburg offering popular wine festivals and Wiesbaden drawing thousands of visitors to its music festival. Fun fairs are also part of the mix - Munster offers a variety of events, craft booths, rides and delicious local cuisine, and several cities, Heidelberg and Potsdam, among others, light up the evening skies with firework displays. Art takes center stage in Freiburg where 170 artists proudly display their work on the city's streets, while Osnabruck hosts open-air cabaret and film showings and a salsa party under the stars. Travelers wanting to participate in sporting events flock to Potsdam's Festival of Hunting and Distillery or Rostock's River Festival, where fishermen compete in a longest cod contest, celebrating the end of the season.
Regensburg - Regensburg has more pubs per square mile than any other German city and five breweries dating to the Middle Ages. The nearby Kloster Weltenburg, the oldest monastery brewery in the world, has been fermenting beer since 1050. So it's no surprise the city celebrates its beer-making tradition with two beer festivals a year, one in spring ("Maidult" in May) and one in autumn. The "Herbstdult" (Fall Beer Festival), Aug. 29-Sept. 14, features two beer tents and a wine tent with live bands as well as local foods and crafts. As a complement to the local beers, Regensburg's Historic Sausage Kitchen has been serving guests for more than 850 years. Info at www.regensburg.de/tourismus.
Erfurt - The city hosts the Erfurt Wine Festival (Aug. 15-18) in front of its Town Hall; and in Oct. and Nov., the "Thuringian Jazz Mile" extravaganza will bring German and international bands to the city, performing in a variety of venues. The annual Ecumenical "St. Martin's Festival," held on Nov. 10, is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, the city's patron saint, and Martin Luther, with thousands converging on Cathedral Square to take part in the event. Info at www.erfurt-tourismus.de.
Freiburg - "Art in the Upper Town" showcases the works of 170 artists as they exhibit on the streets and squares between the Schwabentor and Minster Cathedral in the city's Upper Old Town, encouraging visitors to participate in the artistic process. Held Sept. 4-6, the event creates an open-air gallery where visitors peruse an eclectic array of arts and crafts. Info at www.freiburg.de.
Heidelberg - A concert at the Church of the Holy Spirit precedes the nearly 400-year-old "Castle Illumination," an evening of fireworks, which light up the city's famed castle on Sept. 6. "Heidelberger Herbst," the city's Old Town Fall Festival, held on Sept. 27, mixes concerts, street art, food stalls, flea markets (including one for children), and a medieval market serving regional delicacies. The festival also features a variety of music and childrens' activities. Info at www.heidelberg-marketing.de.
Mainz - On the weekends of Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 the Mainz "Wine Festival," in the Mainzer Stadtpark (City Park) and the nearby Rosengarten, showcases more than 50 Mainz and nearby area winegrowers and their finest vintages. White wines and roses lead the way, as festival goers enjoy sampling during a full schedule of wine tastings and visit the nearby book and artist market. Info at www.mainz.de.
Munster - From Oct. 23 -27, "Send" (Fun Fair), the oldest annual fair in the Munsterland region, takes place amid the backdrop of the city's castle, attracting more than one million visitors. Nearly 250 fairground operators offer activities for the whole family, including carnival rides, nostalgic steam organs, regional foods and a fireworks display. On Sept. 7, the Old Town is the site of the "Festival of Museums and Galleries," an arts and culture festival with concerts, local foods and special museum and gallery tours. Info at www.tourismus.muenster.de.
Osnabruck - Sept. and Oct. bring a host of events to the city, including "Summer in the City" with its open-air cabaret, film showings and a salsa party under the stars (Sept. 7); "Culture Night," featuring a variety of activities, coupled with street culture and open air-action hosted by cultural institutions (Sept. 9); and the "Orient Festival," which builds a cultural bridge from East to West (Sept. 19-Oct. 5). On Sept. 27, choral societies and choirs from the region join American percussionist and singer David Moss for a performance, and the "Autumn Fair" fair treats guests to amusement park attractions, from Oct. 31- Nov. 9. Info at www.osnabrueck.de.
Potsdam - The Sept. 12 "Moonlight Night" illuminates the 19th-century, Italian-style Belvedere, atop the Pfingstberg hill, where guests enjoy views of the city and surrounding region. On Oct. 11-12, the city hosts the third annual Festival of Hunting and Distillery at the Bronstedt Crown House, featuring hound and falconer shows, game cookery, a presentation of outdoor weapons and the chance to taste wild boar, cooked over a spit. Info at www.potsdam-tourism.com.
Rostock - The "Cod King" is crowned in this Baltic city during its River Festival, Sept. 5-7, as anglers compete to catch the longest cod, celebrating the end of the season. The Cod Week festival, Sept. 29 -Oct. 4, offers visitors culinary treats, deep-sea fishing trips and angling from the shore. Travelers can also opt for visits to the lighthouse or embark on torch light walks along the beach. Info at www.rostock.de.
Trier - The "Wine Festival of the Middle Mosel" takes place from Sept. 4-8 in Bernkastel-Kues, near Trier, and features a vintner's parade with more than 100 participating groups from inside and outside Germany and culminates with a display of fireworks. In recognition of the Roman's initiation of wine production along the Mosel nearly 2,000 years ago, Tourist Information Tier is offering "The Romans and Wine" package -- two nights' accommodations, a wine tasting, city tour, regional foods from the vintner's kitchen and the opportunity to feast at a true Roman meal. Packages rates start at approximately 157 euros ($245*) per person, double. Info at www.trier.de/english.
Wiesbaden - The city hosts the "Rheingau Wine Festival," from Aug. 8 - 17, which serves as the venue for regional wine-growers to showcase their best vintages in 110 wine booths. Through Aug. 30, music takes center stage with the 20th Rheingau Music Festival, drawing 20,000 music lovers from around the world. On Sept. 5, 10 churches open their doors for the "Night of the Churches," providing visitors with tours. The "Taunus Street Festival," a two-day street fair held on Sept. 6 - 7, features culinary delicacies and numerous forms of art and culture. Info at www.wiesbaden.de.
Wurzburg - Travelers may sample more than 100 wines from the Franconian region's wine-growing estates, as well as delicious assortments of selected foods, in pagoda tents on Market Square in Aug. and Sept. during the city's "Weinparade" (Wine Festival). On Oct. 4, the 500-year-old Royal Wurzburg Residence serves as the venue for performances of dance, chamber music, jazz and international music during its "Residenznacht" (Residence Night). The "Wurzburger Bachtage" (Bach Music Festival), Nov. 22 to Dec. 2, serves up performances by a Bach choir, organ and piano recitals, and vocal concerts. Info at www.bachtage-wuerzburg.de.
Historic Highlights of Germany is a tourism consortium comprising Augsburg, Erfurt, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Koblenz, Mainz, Munster, Osnabruck, Potsdam, Regensburg, Rostock, Trier, Wiesbaden and Wurzburg - cities rich in historic and cultural heritage. Contact Historic Highlights of Germany at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.historicgermany.com.