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A seasonal guide to Hamburg

The winter Christmas Markets, the spring celebrations at the harbour, BBQs along the Elbe in the summer, and cruises down the river in the fall, are just some of the experiences that await visitors Hamburg. With so much do to in this waterfront city, there's never a bad time to visit.

The twinkling lights and Christmas markets give Hamburg a fairytale feel

The twinkling lights and Christmas markets give Hamburg a fairytale feel

Winter

Hamburg certainly knows how to kick off winter in style! At the beginning of November, the Hamburger Dom arrives at Heiligengeistfeld, and millions of visitors flock to enjoy the funfair rides, stalls and tasty treats on offer. There’s even a firework display each Friday! Later, the city is transformed by the festive season into a wonderland of twinkling lights and Christmas markets, and Hamburg’s maritime history is celebrated by fairytale-themed ships moored in the harbour. Add a dusting of snow and you’ve got one winter break that’s as cosy as it is captivating!

Take a stroll down the River Elbe during a warm spring day

Take a stroll down the River Elbe during a warm spring day

Spring

The harbour has played such a pivotal role in the history of Hamburg that the whole city celebrates its birthday each May. Land and water come together in a festival of food, fireworks and spectacular maritime displays as ships of all shapes and sizes cruise down the River Elbe. It’s a great way to see another side of Germany, and even if you miss the event itself a Hamburg spring is something to be savoured. Be sure to head to Planten and Blomen Park in the centre of the city, where you can revel in all the colours and scents of the season of rebirth.

Locals flock the banks of the Elbe for BBQs during the warm summer days

Locals flock the banks of the Elbe for BBQs during the warm summer days

Summer

For a city with such a venerable and storied history, it’s amazing how youthful and energetic Hamburg can feel. This is never more true than in the summer, when the town hall’s roof glows in vivid verdigris and locals head to the banks of the Elbe for friendly barbecues in the sun. It’s also festival season, and the choice is as wide as Hamburg’s famous harbour. The Hamburg Summer Party is the season’s most elegant bash, the Altonale has culture at its heart while the Reeperbahn Festival is at the cutting edge of contemporary music. And that’s just three from a whole summer full of events!

Thanks to its maritime tradition, Hamburg is best seen from the water

Thanks to its maritime tradition, Hamburg is best seen from the water

Fall

Thanks to its maritime tradition, Hamburg is a city that’s always had water at its heart, and the clement temperatures and bright mornings of autumn are the ideal time to enjoy the city’s watery wonders. Try a walk through the harbour and explore some of the city’s many bridges, or take to the waves with a boat tour that reveals the banks of the Elbe in all their autumnal splendour. And even if you don’t drink beer, the friendly and fun-filled atmosphere of Hamburg’s Oktoberfest is as intoxicating as the strongest Bavarian brew.