One traditional Volksfest takes place in Bavaria at Landshut’s annual Bartlmädult, from Aug. 18-27. 

One traditional Volksfest takes place in Bavaria at Landshut’s annual Bartlmädult, from Aug. 18-27.  (

And just like that, it’s time for DODEA students across Europe to return to their classrooms. Should the summer vacation have felt way too short, an epic final weekend of fun and freedom might be just the thing before it’s time to hit the books again. Here’s a look at some family-friendly outings happening this weekend.

Volksfests: Carnival attractions, games of skill and chance and festival foods can be found at Bad Kreuznach, whose annual Jahrmarkt runs Aug. 18-22 this year. This fest on the Pfingstwiese offers an impressive collection of downright scary rides and closes with a display of fireworks at 10 p.m. Aug. 22. Online:

Those calling Bavaria home could more easily find their way to Landshut’s annual Bartlmädult, which takes place Aug. 18-27. This traditional late-summer volksfest that’s been celebrated since 1339 offers a most impressive assortment of attractions and three large tents in which to enjoy beer, traditional fare and various styles of music. Online:

Light festivals: It’s not just fireworks that light up the night skies. The fabulous Blühenden Barock gardens surrounding Ludwigsburg Palace, best known for the annual pumpkin exhibition, put on their annual “Lichterzauber” or Magic Lights program, on Aug. 19. From mid-afternoon, kids can enjoy seeing model boats floating in the lake or build their own lanterns. Against the backdrop of the spectacularly illuminated royal gardens surrounding the palace, a lantern parade scheduled for 8 p.m. is followed by a spectacle of light. Entry costs 13 euros adults and 8 euros for children ages 4-15. Online:

From 6 p.m. Aug. 20, Crailsheim illuminates the section of town known as Goldbach, at the foot of the Franconian hills, in a sea of color. The pretty view can also be enjoyed by hiking along a circular route. Entry costs 6 euros adults, 3 euros for those ages 12-18 and is free for those age 11 and under. Online:

Wine festivals: While in some places bringing the kids along to a wine festival might sound like questionable parenting, doing so is quite par for the course in Germany, where you can sometimes even find a quiet corner dedicated to activities for the young ones. This weekend’s crop of wine festivals includes Wiesbaden’s Wine Weeks, where a babysitting service for kids ages five-11 is laid on. On Saturday, Aug. 19, the service costs 5 euros per hour per child and 2.50 euro per hour for each additional sibling; on Sunday, the babysitting service is free. Children can be dropped off at the Haus an der Marktkirche at Schlossplatz 4 from 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 a.m. on Saturday. Participating children can enjoy crafting, painting and playing games with one another. The wine fest itself runs through Aug. 20. Online:

Other cities celebrating the goodness of the grape throughout the weekend include the fairy-tale like Rothenburg o.d. Tauber, where the wine festival runs through Aug. 20. Pforzheim’s wine fest, which goes by the name of Oechsle Fest, starts on Aug. 18 and runs through Sept 3. Online:

Music festivals: Families that are all ears for music might wish to check out the Vivawest Family Festival, an open-air event set to take place at Cologne’s Tanzbrunnen Aug. 19-20. In addition to a line-up made up of well-known German performers including Adriano, Volker Rosin, Finn & Jonas, Miljö and Zoe Wees, activities such as arts and crafts stations, workshops, face painting, and sporting challenges await the younger set. Adult tickets go for 41.50 euros each; ages 13-17 enter for 24 euros; those between six and 12 pay 14 euros and those ages five and under enter free. Online:

Those based in Belgium have particularly good chances of finding their favorite sounds. As of this writing, day tickets remained available for the massive Pukkelpop’s Sunday line-up. Artists slated for Aug. 20 include The Killers, Florence + The Machine, Macklemore, Dropkick Murphys, Foals and many others. Tickets cost 119 euros. Online:

Fans of world music should make way to Eupen, where the Haaste Tone world music festival unfolds over Aug. 18-20. Sounds from flamenco to gospel can be enjoyed alongside the antics and acrobatics of various street artists. Online:

Jump for joy: What kind of a kid doesn’t love a bouncy castle? There are plenty to choose from at Happy Family Day, a collection of inflatables that travel between cities over the warm months of the year. Through Aug. 20, young ones in the Stuttgart area can enjoy a day of storming a pirate island and other fun activities. The airy assembly presently perched at the Am Max-Eyth-See /Hofener Brücke is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Entry costs 8 euros per child over 100 cm high or three years old. Kids under 100 cm pay 5 euros, and adults pay just 2 euros. Online:

Ride a Rodelbahn: A fun yet not-too-scary attraction for riders of all ages is a Rodelbahn, a type of slide on rails or a halfpipe-like track whose speed is controlled by its driver. Once onboard and buckled up, the rider is towed up to the top of a mountain or hill and let loose. The name Sommerbahn implies that the slide is open only during the warm months of the year, so consider closing out the summer season with a turn or two down such a ride. Rodelbahn can be found throughout Germany, including in Altenahr, Daun, Gondorf, Grafenau, Gutach, Hilscheid, Immenstadt in Allgäu, Mitterteich, Nonnweiler, Oberstdorf, Pleinfeld, Riedenburg, Saarburg, Sankt Goarshausen, Schwangau, Todtnau and Wald-Michelbach. For other Rodelbahn, see a list online at

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