March 09, 2015

The Kinderzeche Festival of Germany

Sweden has a reputation.  For remaining neutral during conflicts, that is.  But the land of blonde-haired women, meatballs, and Ikea didn't always take the path of neutrality.  During the Thirty Years' War of the 17th century, Sweden invaded many of its Baltic neighbors, including Germany.

The Kinderlore & entourage (2014)
Danny's German hometown of Dinkelsbühl experienced the Swedish invasion firsthand, enduring eight different sieges throughout the war.  The most well-known siege, however, occurred in 1632 when the Swedish General Sperreuth threatened the fully-walled, medieval town with complete destruction.  According to legend, as the Swedish troops rode into Dinkelsbühl, bent on wreaking havoc, a gatekeeper's daughter named Lore, purportedly the most beautiful girl in town, brought a group of singing children to kneel before the Swedish general and beg for mercy.

At the sight of Lore and the children, General Sperreuth softened.  Picking up a blonde-haired boy dressed in black velvet, the general declared him a look-alike of his own son in Sweden and granted mercy upon the whole town for the children's sake.


In honor of the city's deliverance, Dinkelsbühl hosts a 10-day long festival known as the Kinderzeche every July with reenactments and city-wide partying.  That's right - this town celebrates its 17th century surrender to a Swedish general by putting on parades, conducting a reenactment of the Swedes entering the city, and drinking copious amounts of beer.  Out of the 300,000 people who visit the festival every year, only a handful of those visitors manage to stay sober! (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration!)

Participation in the reenactment is reserved only for residents (much to the chagrin of my husband, who spent summers in Germany as a child and always wanted to participate), and those reenactors attain celebrity status, with the adults being treated to unlimited refills of wine and beer from the town's restaurants and bars for the entirety of the Kinderzeche.

The general atmosphere of this otherwise small and somewhat-quiet town is festive during the Kinderzeche.  Flags fly proudly throughout the town, showing off not only the red and white of the town's flag, but the German national flag, the Swedish flag, and the flags of sister cities in other countries.  The main square is blocked to vehicular traffic, and wooden benches and tables turn the place into an outdoor dance hall.  The 2014 Kinderzeche was especially exuberant as Germany had just won the World Cup only a few days prior.

While my husband has seen countless Kinderzeche festivals in the past thirty years, I've only enjoyed it twice - in 2010 and 2014 - but appreciated it more the second time than the first.  Stay tuned for my next post, which will break down the Kinderzeche in more detail!

Have you ever heard of the Kinderzeche?  Ever been?


Linking up with Bonnie Rose for #TravelTuesday!


  1. As you can imagine, I love this post. Maybe I'll go to this festival since I'll be living in Germany in a couple of months!

    1. You should!!! Except during Kinderzeche, Dinkelsbuehl is the less touristy/crowded sister of Rothenburg. My next post on the Kinderzeche will be more in depth! And I may have to do a photo essay on it since we have hundreds of beautiful pictures to share.

  2. Haha, I find it funny that they hold a huge festival to celebrate the time they surrendered. :) I guess they're making it into a happy thing! The town looks so cute in the last picture!

    1. It's funny, but until I started writing this post, I had never thought about how it could be viewed as a celebration of a surrender. Technically, they're celebrating their salvation, but you know, "tomatoh, tomatah." ;) My next post on the Kinderzeche will have more pictures, and I may even have to do a photo essay. This town is just so stinking adorable.

  3. That is a great story Katrina. Would love to see this festival and to drink the copious beer that you refer to. I think it's really cool that the flags of both countries are celebrated, sounds a bit like a 'love in'. With all the shit happening in the world its nice to hear a story like this.
    Thank you for the great tip, for sure it's on our list for the future.


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