The ski jumping hill  “Grosse Olympiaschanze” in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, is one of the venues of the “Vierschanzentournee,” or Four Hills ski jumping tournament. The event takes place Jan. 1.

The ski jumping hill “Grosse Olympiaschanze” in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, is one of the venues of the “Vierschanzentournee,” or Four Hills ski jumping tournament. The event takes place Jan. 1. (iStock)

New Year’s Eve is a night associated with dressing up, nibbling on canapes and sipping sparkling wine. And while it’s easy enough to find an evening of glitz and glamour in a restaurant, club or hotel, “Silvester” in Germany has another, very different face. Many forgo dressing up in sparkles in favor of their warm woolies, the better to spend some quality time outside with their best buddies and loved ones. A favorite activity as the crucial midnight hour grows near is to head to the street with a box full of fireworks and other gunpowder-laden things that go bang in the night. The fireworks are acquired in a few short days between Christmas and New Year’s, when supermarkets and department stores are allowed to sell them, and a roaring trade in these explosives ensues. Record sales in fireworks and related items were achieved in 2022, when, according to Statista, the sale of pyrotechics bought for New Year’s Eve generated 180 million euros in sales in Germany.

In addition to shooting off firecrackers, traditional turn-of-the-year activities might include taking part in a fun run, winter sporting activity or open-air event. Here’s a look at what’s on in some local communities close to where U.S. forces in Germany and their families call home.


The town’s annual Silvesterlauf, or New Year’s Run, takes place on Dec. 31. The local sports club CIS Amberg e.V. will be organizing runs for schoolchildren, youth and the general public. Childrens’ runs begin at noon and participation costs from four euros and up, plus a two-euro late registration fee for sign-ups after Dec. 15. The main run for adults, a 7.5 km triple loop through the Old Town and along the city walls, gets underway at 1 p.m. The race starts and ends at the market square. Participation costs 12 euros plus the 2 euro late fee. Late registration is possible in front of the Town Hall from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on race day itself. Online:


A hike through field and forest is sure to cleanse mind, body and soul just in time for the New Year. A “Fackelwanderung an Silvester” hiking experience is offered at 4 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Farchant, a small town that makes up part of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen municipality. After meeting in front of the Town Hall, hikers will make their way to a scenic stop where mulled wine and alcohol-free punch for the children will be sold and the town’s mayor will give a short speech. Locals and visitors alike are welcome to participate in the hike. Torches to be lit up for the walk back into town go for 1 euro each. The estimated time of return is 6:30 p.m. Participation is free. The address of the start point is Am Gern 1, 82490 Farchant. Online:

Since 1953, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has served as the venue to a beloved winter sporting event around the New Year holiday. The “Vierschanzentournee,” or Four Hills Tournament, is a World Cup ski jumping event held between Dec. 29 and Jan. 6 each year. The series is hosted by two Austrian ski resorts and two German ones, and the winning athlete is the skier who amasses the most points in all four outings. As per tradition, Garmisch-Partenkirchen will take its turn hosting on Jan. 1, when the hunt for points gets underway at 3:45 p.m. The hosting venue is the big ski jump officially known as the Große Olympiaschanze. Adult tickets cost from 42 euros plus fees. Online:


A “Silvesterlauf,” or, New Year’s Eve Street Run, takes place in the village of Kottweiler-Schwanden on Dec. 31. From the race’s start point at the Sulzbachhalle, racers will pass through the towns of Kottweiler, Steinwenden, Ramstein, Miesenbach and Kottweiler, covering a distance of 10 km. The top three men and women finishers will receive their trophies immediately following the race, and the first three finishers in each age group will also receive prizes. The race kicks off at 2:20 p.m. Sign-up on race day itself is possible from 10 a.m. until half an hour prior to the start of the race. Participation costs 10 euros for adults and 5 euros for youth. Online:


The city’s Schlossplatz is the place to be on New Year‘s Eve, as a program titled “Vereint in Stuttgart,” or United in Stuttgart, plays out. Stars taking to the stage include TheOwnWay Orchestra from Ukraine, TikTok sensation Loi, DJane Alegra Cole and Peter Schilling & Band. Shilling, a Stuttgart native, is appearing on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the release of his New Wave anthem, Major Tom. A pair of dance acts will do their best to get the audience swaying to their beats, while light installations and 3D mapping provide the visual wow effect. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party will go until around 1:30 a.m. As long as the concert isn’t sold out, tickets will be available on the night itself at a cost of 15 euros adults and 10 euros children. Ticket holders are entitled to free travel on public transportation to and from the event. Online:


On the last day of the year, professional firefighters demonstrate one of their many crucial lifesaving skills in the frigid, swift-moving waters of the Rhine. At 10 a.m., a few dozen of them will take the plunge from the anchoring point of the “Landskrone” ferry and swim to the Feldbergtor. It will take them about half an hour to complete the swim. Spectators are invited to gather at the Fischtor, along the banks of the Rhine, from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. The event opens with speeches from the mayor of Mainz and the head of the fire department and includes the sale of warming drinks and an exhibition of fire trucks. Entry is free. Online:

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now