Story and photos by Bardia Khajenoori
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
Editor’s Note: A version of this story was first published in the 2nd Quarter 2023 Stuttgart Citizen Magazine. Festivals/events taking place prior to July have been removed, additional events have been added, and the online version has been adapted for better readability.
The Stuttgart region loves its festivals, but when it comes to frequency and diversity, there’s no time quite like the summer.
From music festivals to showcases of food and world culture, the options are endless. This rundown divides a wide selection of events into three general categories with some degree of overlap.
Consider using public transit to get to these events due to busy or closed roads, limited nearby parking, and ensuring safety after drinking. Always plan your way home prior to attending festivals and special events, and never drink and drive. Apps such as VVS Mobil, SSB Move, and DB Navigator offer customized door-to-door public transit routing and the ability to buy tickets on your mobile device.
Credit cards are increasingly accepted at vendor booths, but it’s still a good idea to have enough cash to cover intended purchases.
Aside from the largest events, most informational websites are only in German, so using a free translation app or browser extension will help to make most things roughly understandable. While many activities will, of course, also be in German, don’t feel intimidated — dancing, music, fireworks, and food transcend languages.
Be aware that when purchasing food and drinks from vendors, you will likely be charged a pfand (deposit) of €2-5 per item for the drink glass and/or plates in addition to the listed price of the item. This will be refunded to you after you return the plate/glass. In some cases, as small plastic chip or token may also be handed to you as part of the deposit process; if this happens, keep it and return it with the items.
This list is provided solely for informational/cultural awareness purposes; inclusion of an event does not imply endorsement, and many other events are taking place which are not listed. Look out for signs and posters in your neighborhood to discover more.
Most local towns and villages host at least one marquee street festival in the summertime, as do most districts of Stuttgart. These events typically feature live music or DJs and stages for artistic performances along with activities for children. They are open access and have no admission fee, with a wide selection of food, drinks, and other products available for sale from vendors. When they take place in a town center over a Sunday, the day is often (but not always) designated as a special “Shopping Sunday,” with nearby stores open for business.
July is a busy month for neighborhood festivals in Stuttgart. Highlights include:
- July 7-9: Westallee, Stuttgart-West’s ‘alternative’ festival along Johannesstraße.
- July 15-16: “Möhringen feiert!” (Möhringen celebrates) – The city district between Patch and Kelley Barracks hosts its neighborhood celebration on Oberdorfplatz with a stage program, children’s activities, live bands, and a range of food and drinks.
- July 20-22: Bohnenviertelfest, whose neighborhood takes its name from the practice of its poorer residents growing beans in their gardens hundreds of years ago, in the area of Brennerstraße and Rosenstraße.
- August 2-5: Henkersfest (or ‘Hangman’s Fest’), which takes place at the city’s Middle Ages execution site of Wilhelmsplatz in Stuttgart-Mitte.
In the region:
- July 7-8: Nürtingen Neckarfest transforms the city’s riverfront into a cultural hub.
- July 9: Böblingen District Citizen’s Festival: The Böblingen District will celebrate its 50th birthday with a festival on the Flugfeld between Böblingen and Sindelfingen. Various public agencies such as the fire department, Polizei, and refuse collection will be onsite with their vehicles, and activities such as bouncy castles and face painting will be open for children.
- July 14-16: Herrenberg city festival, which takes place on the market square and closes out the “Summer Colors” cultural festival.
- July 14-18: SchoWo, or Schorndorf Week, offers more than 100 activities over five days across the birth city of pioneering engineer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler.
- July 14-15: The City Festival of Tübingen features live music, dance, and demonstrations throughout the Old Town of this charming academic hub.
Arts, Culture, and Dining
- July 7-9: The Afrika Festival returns to Erwin-Schöttle-Platz for the first time in three years with food, fashion shows, concerts, an African market, and more.
- July 6-16: The 34th Hamburg Fish Market at Karlsplatz helps fill the fish-sized void in landlocked Stuttgart’s culinary scene for ten days each year – but vendors also offer plenty of other options (including sweets and desserts), and its party atmosphere attracts visitors from far and wide.
- July 11-16: Summer Festival of Cultures, with its stage set up prominently on Marktplatz, is southern Germany’s largest world music festival and celebrates Stuttgart’s diversity with an eclectic array of musical and other performances. Food stalls run by local clubs dish out numerous types of homemade food, ranging from Kurdish and Eritrean to Peruvian and Hungarian.
- Aug. 3-5: “Genusstage um die Markthalle” (Days of Enjoyment around the Market Hall) replaces the former Summer Festival which was held between the Neues Schloss and the Opera House. Numerous food and drink stands, as well as entertainment, are planned for the Dortheen Quarter from Thursday to Saturday.
- Aug. 11-14 (moved from Aug. 4-6): The Lateinamerikanisches Wochenende (Latin American Weekend) is a traveling festival which will make its annual visit to Stuttgart at the Phoenixhalle, in Bad Cannstatt’s Römerkastell, in early August. DJs will provide music for a lively atmosphere of dancing, food, culture, and handmade artisan goods for sale. The site of the former Roman fort was also used by the U.S. Army as Wallace Barracks until 1992.
- Aug. 25-27: For nearly 40 years, the “Laboratorium” cultural center in Stuttgart-Ost has held a “Lab-Festival” with curated live music, food, drinks, and a market. This year, the festival will be held at the Berger Festplatz, near the Mineralbäder U-Bahn stop in the lower Schlossgarden.
- Aug. 30 – Sept. 10: Weindorf (Wine Village) Stuttgart converts Schillerplatz, Marktplatz, and the street between them into a sea of quaint pop-up stalls and restaurants showcasing wine from local vineyards and the best of regional cuisine.
- July 7-16: Sommer Farben (Summer Colors) Cultural Festival, Marktplatz Herrenberg.
- July 19-23: Schlemmen am See (Feasting at the Lake), Böblingen: This gourmet festival held around Böblingen’s city center lakes has been delighting area foodies for more than 30 years. This year, 20 local restaurants and two musical stages will surround the Unterer See, with a bicycle festival on Saturday and a run through the city starting at 10 a.m. Sunday.
- July 21-22: Bietigheimer Wunderland offers an array of music, theater, acrobatics, and more on various stages in downtown Bietigheim. A summer concert series also runs through August 25 (on the Marktplatz in June and July and in the Enzpavillon of the Bürgergarten in August).
- Aug. 4-16: Estival, on Esslingen‘s market square from Aug. 4 to 16, has a full entertainment program but highlights its culinary offerings as ‘regional and international, traditional and reinvented.”
- Aug. 17 – Sept. 3: Weindorf Nürtingen – Another wine village offering mostly traditional Swabian cooking and a selection of regional and domestic wines in a cozy atmosphere. The location is the courtyard of the Stadthalle K3N, a few minutes’ walk from the city’s train station.
- May 11 – July 22: The Ludwigsburg Festival presents numerous artistic and musical performances in venues scattered throughout the city and its sprawling palace complex.
- July 13-23: The courtyard of the Neues Schloss hosts the main stage of the Jazz Open Stuttgart, which has gradually become as “open” as it is “jazz.” Tickets range from €25 – 275; this year’s headliners include Branford Marsalis, Deep Purple, Parov Stelar, and Joss Stone, along with German hip-hop legends (and Stuttgart natives) Die Fantastischen Vier.
- July 15: Killesberg Park holds its annual ‘Lichterfest‘ (Festival of Lights), with light shows and fireworks.
- July 22-23: On the Saturday of Ballet in the Park, the world-renowned Stuttgart Ballet simulcasts a live performance from the Opera House (this year, John Cranko classic Onegin) to a giant screen set up in the lawn opposite for a crowd seated on their own blankets or soft chairs; Sunday features pieces by talented members of its training school.
- July 29-30: Christopher Street Day is Stuttgart’s LGBTQ+ Pride celebration, with a parade through the city center on July 29 and a street festival July 29-30 between Marktplatz and Schillerplatz.
- Aug. 19: Ludwigsburg Palace’s baroque gardens are home to the Lichterzauber (Magic of Lights), with various activities such as lantern making and the launching of model ships on the South Garden lake leading into a lantern procession and fireworks display. An accompanying musical program promises the “Best of Street Music.”
- Aug. 25-27: Flammende Sterne (Flaming Stars), held in Ostfildern’s Scharnhauser Park, is an international fireworks competition where invited teams wow audiences with impressive displays synchronized to music. The event also includes laser light shows, street art, and a festival market with abundant food and drinks. As a historical note, this site has been redeveloped from the former Nellingen Barracks, which formed part of the Stuttgart military community from 1945 to 1992.
Evening Markets (Abendmärkte)
Evening markets take place in four Stuttgart neighborhoods from the end of May through mid-August, each on a particular day of the week, through Aug. 20. They are free to attend and offer live entertainment. Food, drinks, and market-style goods are available for purchase, and local businesses and leisure clubs set up stands to provide information about their services or activities.
- Bad Cannstatt (Marktplatz)
- Fridays from 5 – 10 p.m.
- Close to Robinson Barracks
- Vaihingen (Rathausplatz)
- Saturdays from 5 – 11 p.m.
- Close to Patch Barracks
- Stammheim (Kirchplatz)
- Wednesdays from 5 – 10 p.m.
- Untertürkheim (Train Station)
- Thursdays from 5 – 10 p.m.