Videos: Imperial City Festival in Rothenburg

Imperial City Festival Rothenburg

Rothenburg ob der Tauber - one of Germany’s best preserved towns situated in the heart of the Franconian region of Bavaria. Famous for many reasons – including being the ‘Christmas town’ of Germany (with a Christmas shop/museum being open 12 months a year), a highlight of the Romantic road and the inspiration behind the town in Walt Disney’s Pinnochio.

Rothenburg cenre

With its cobbled streets, medieval architecture, moats, towers and large forests hugging the city, it’s easy to fall in love (and frankly, not want to leave). How could you not be enchanted by a town that has Christmas spirit all year round?

I recently visited Rothenburg for the annual Imperial City Festival (Reichstadt-Festtage) as part of the Must Love Festivals team. Locals and tourists alike gather for 3 days and over 1000 participants take part in re-enacting scenes from the past. The festival itself is a feast for all the senses – the smell of roasting chestnuts, the sizzle of flames, horses galloping through the centre of town carrying knights, folk song, dancing and magnificent fireworks glittering above this ancient town.

Knights on horseback

From Renaissance dancing to wood carving and medieval craftwork, you really do get the feeling of time travel when exploring Rothenburg - and what better way to capture this than through video.

The first day commenced with a torchlight procession of historical groups and a spectacular fireworks display over the town hall.


You can sample the culinary delights (from soups to stews to local beers and cakes), try your hand at locals crafts such as sewing, coin pressing and rope making and watch singing and dancing performances. One of the most famous dances is the ‘Shepherd’s Dance’ which takes place on the market square on the final day of the festival. There’s a full schedule from morning until night, and even a medieval campsite lit by flames.

Medieval Campfire

I decided to use my time wisely and interview some of the most interesting characters at the festival as well as learning some traditional skills. My Grandfather was a tailor and I’ve always been enthusiastic about people who re-establish traditional professions and carry out work by hand. It’s rare to see these skills being kept alive with such dedication and being taught to younger generations too. This is something that should be celebrated. 

Traditional skills

The local enthusiasm for this festival is contagious – you can’t help but smile when you hear stories of families who have been performing the same dance annually for the last 20 years. Grandparents teaching their grandchildren, families and friends who have moved away reuniting, foreign visitors flocking, it’s a festival that brings people from around the world together, and just for that one weekend, time stands still.

Rothenburg Parade in Centre


Rothenburg ob der Tauber is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Germany and I shall definitely be revisiting in years to come. Many thanks to Visit Germany, Expedia and Rothenburg ob der Tauber Tourism for hosting me and allowing me to capture this incredible celebration of German history.

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