Unmissable & Original
5 Festivals and Traditions by the Water in Baden-Württemberg
© Verkehrsverein Tübingen, Foto: Barbara Honner
BW Story - Hirsch & Greif
Special Festivals By the Water
Water is life. It is the stuff of myths and legends – and all sorts of reasons to celebrate. From punt races to a mill festival, Baden-Württemberg celebrates at its rivers and lakes every year. These five traditions are great fun for locals and visitors alike.
#1 All on the River
Oath Week in Ulm
The second to-last Monday in July is the kick-off for an extraordinary week in Ulm. It all dates back to a 14th-century oath: every year on Oath Monday (Schwörmontag), there is a grand ceremony where the mayor swears to stand up for the rich and the poor equally. This is followed by the ‘Nabada’, where the citizens and dignitaries float down the Danube in rubber dinghies, rafts and the flatboats known as ‘Ulmer Schachteln’ (Ulm boxes). There are many other treats in store during the festival week, including a serenade of lights, where the water is lit up by thousands of floating candles.
#2 By the Babbling Brook
On Whit Monday, water wheels turn all across the country for ‘Deutscher Mühlentag’ or German Mill Day. Old mills in Southwest Germany also open their doors. In the Stuttgart region, for example, there are plenty of places to visit, from the Siebenmühlental Valley on the edge of the Schönbuch Nature Reserve to the Mill Hiking Trail in the Swabian Forest and the popular Glemsmühlenweg Cycle Trail. In Upper Swbia, the Mühlenstrasse Route is well worth a visit.
#3 Downriver in a Nutshell
‘Drunk as a lord’, ‘soaking wet’ and ‘dry as dust’ are the battle cries you need to master in Schramberg on Carnival Monday, even as a spectator. In the ‘Bach-na-Fahrt’, literally the journey down the stream, teams must navigate a 500-metre stretch of water with rapids in wooden tubs. The participants have three weeks to prepare the tub randomly assigned to them for the adventurous river trip, and to decorate it.
#4 A Salute to Tradition
Kuchen- und Brunnenfest in Schwäbisch Hall
The history of the salters from Schwäbisch Hall goes back a long way: the Celts were already extracting salt from the spring at the Kocher River. In the Middle Ages, the ‘white gold’ brought wealth to Schwäbisch Hall. The salters festival dates back to this time and probably has its roots in the cleaning of the salt spring, dates back to this time. The festival marked the end of the hard toil. Today, the Kuchen- und Brunnenfest (cake and spring festival) is considered one of the most beautiful local festivals in Southwest Germany and traditionally ends with a gun salute.
#5 There Can Only Be One Winner
Punt Race in Tübingen
The punt race on Corpus Christi sees participants sail in traditional wooden boats around Neckar Island in Tübingen. Not only does it get a bit tight on the river, but the costumed competitors do not pull any punches. After all, the winning team is rewarded with beer, while the losers can look forward to half a litre of cod-liver oil. The flatboats were once used by fishermen on the Neckar River, and later by student societies.