Germany: Celebrations and Culture

Written by  Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

EUROPE Germany
Tourism news in Germany this year revolves around culture and the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a Wittenburg Church in 1517, he began a religious revolution that changed not only the history of the church, but of his country and the world. In 2017 the cities where Luther’s reformation began, grew and thrived are celebrating its wide-reaching effects on thought and culture. What began in Wittenburg spread through the eastern German states, into Thuringia and Saxony, where Luther was given protection after being condemned as a heretic.

Clients with interests in religion, history, art and music will find special exhibitions, concerts, pilgrimages, tours, religious services and sites relating to the life and legacy of Martin Luther (
A good place to begin is where the Reformation itself began, in Wittenberg, where they can see the famous door and tour an exhibition of “95 Treasures” on loan from around the world, including Luther’s personal Bible and a rare portrait of Luther by Lucas Cranach. A second part of the exhibit explores Luther’s influence on artists, composers and reformers into our own time. Also in Wittenberg is the most famous of Cranach’s works, The Reformation Altar in St. Mary’s Town Church.
Wartburg Castle in Eisenach is the world’s most visited Luther destination, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was during his exile here that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.
Traveling through Saxony clients can follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther through art, music, exhibitions and historic sites. In Dresden they can find treasures from the Reformation at the Dresden State Art Collection and the “Old Masters” gallery. In Leipzig they can visit the historic site of the Leipzig Disputation, the turning point in the Reformation. The Municipal Museum houses precious exhibits from the period.
The beautiful Renaissance town of Torgau was the political center of the Reformation, where clients can take a guided tour, “Martin Luther, Katharina von Bora and the Reformation in Torgau.” At Hartenfels Castle an exhibition focuses on the politics of the Reformation. The castle church is the first one built as a Protestant church, and it was consecrated by Luther himself.
Saxony Tourism has developed routes that can be made into bookable group tours to the sites of the Reformation. These offers can be combined and customized to your clients’ individual interests and can also be used as a basis for individual themed travel.

New Cultural Landmarks
This is the big year for openings of new cultural venues and major makeovers of old ones. The Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra will move back to the Kulturpalast and its brand new concert hall in the historic center. From May 18 to June 18, 2017, the Dresden Music Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with renowned orchestras, soloists and ensembles performing at beautiful venues in the historical center. The final section of the Renaissance wing in the Dresden Residenzschloss, the royal palace, opens in April, displaying the world’s largest collection of ceremonial weapons and costumes from the Reformation period.
Architect Frank Gehry designed Berlin’s newest concert hall, the 682-seat Barenboim-Said Academy, where leading international soloists and ensembles will perform regularly. After a seven-year renovation, the magnificent Staatsoper unter den Linden will reopen in October. Built in 1743, the historic monument has a long history of hosting musical premieres, and renowned guest conductors and singers.
January saw the opening of Art Museum Barberini in nearby Potsdam, in a 1771 palace of Frederick the Great, with permanent collections focusing on Impressionism, American modern art and artists from the former East Germany. Clients who love gardens will want to know about the International Garden Show, Berlin in Bloom, from mid-April through mid-October, featuring floral displays, international landscape, tropical hot-house displays, acres of perennials and annuals and a rose garden. A cable car will give visitors a birds-eye view.
Your clients can take advantage of new non-stop flights to Berlin ( to revel in its cultural scene. In mid-April, airberlin ( increases its nonstop-service to Berlin to two flights daily from New York (JFK) and increases service from Miami. Starting in May, airberlin will offer nonstop flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Delta will launch nonstop service between JFK and Berlin’s Tegel Airport.

At Hamburg’s Harbor
The port city of Hamburg is enjoying a new popularity with tourists, enhanced by its knock-out new Elbphilharmonie concert hall, rising like a glittering exclamation point above the river at the end of the reclaimed Hafencity ( This hot new neighborhood of restored 19th-century brick warehouses and piers is a destination of its own, with museums, historic sailing craft and waterside dining. Suggests clients admire the Elbphilharmonie’s graceful lines from a table at Carls an der Elbphilharmonie, while they sample local seafood.
Two new hotels will welcome your clients. Airy minimalist guest rooms at the Westin Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, which opened in November inside the Elbphilharmonie, overlook views of the HafenCity and the Elbe River. Along with a large spa, the Westin has Hamburg’s longest hotel pool. Opening late this summer on the shores of Hamburg’s Alster lake, The Fontenay is the first five-star superior hotel to open in the city in almost 20 years; the 131 guestrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows.

Bavaria and SouthWest Germany
New in Bavaria’s capital of Munich is Germany’s first Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art bringing street art to museum status ( Clients visiting the new Apassionata Showpalast will witness an exciting performance mixing horseback riding, dance, acrobatics, music and light ( The Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz theatre will reopen in mid-2017, following extensive renovation.
Throughout 2017, SouthWest Germany celebrates the 200th anniversary of the bicycle, invented in 1817 by Karl von Drais of Mannheim. The exhibition “Two Wheels - Two Hundred Years, Baron von Drais and the History of the Bicycle” will be on display in Mannheim’s TECHNOSEUM, one of Germany’s top technical and science museums. On June 12, the entire population will turn out to celebrate the bicycle at the city’s annual birthday fest; SouthWest Germany is known for its excellent cycling routes. Radisson Blu Hotel, Mannheim recently opened in the heart of the city.
Elsewhere in Baden-Württemberg, three hotels are opening this year in Stuttgart, home to Europe’s biggest spring festival in mid-April and early May, and one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets in December. The 175-room luxury Jaz in the City Hotel ( opens this summer and the 153-room V8 Superior Hotel ( opens this fall at Motorworld in Böblingen, with an automobile theme. The trendy Moxy Hotel Airport/Messe ( will open in September near the airport and the conference center.
Roomers Baden-Baden is the famed spa city’s first luxury lifestyle hotel, with spacious rooms and suites and beautiful views of the Black Forest ( Along with a spa, hammam, sauna, gym and rooftop bar with an infinity pool, the 5-star Roomers has a pan-Asian restaurant. Your clients can arrive directly from Frankfurt Airport with the 24-hour shuttle service to Baden-Baden (

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