Walpurgis Night 2024

11:00am 30 Apr - 11:30pm 01 May, 2024

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Wernigerode, Germany

Walpurgis Night 2024 in Harz Mountains, Germany

The old ways of German pagan traditions come to life in the Harz Mountains ,which is a local tourism mecca, but not well know to the international traveller. The mountains have a long history of witchcraft. It celebrates its Night of Witches on April 30, which they call Walpurgisnacht.

Witches dressed in outlandish gear and painted faces are featured all the different Walpurgisnacht festivals that take place in the big traditional alpine towns.

The wildest things that went on in the Harz Mountains are brought to todays festivals, bonfires, dancing witches, German beer, ghouls, live music, roaming artists and just generally a good time is to be had, while people rock out in costume.

“Watch as cheerful and happy witches dance to modern music as they welcome in Spring to the German mountains, helping faeries and spirits to cross over the mystical threshold from one world to another.”

The surrounding Brocken mountain is a haven for witches, who go to the top and light bonfires. They are said to meet Satan up there and plan awful deeds that will take place for the following year.

While those old stories are frightful, the festival itself is becoming more popular each year, with thousands flocking so they can go dancing with witches.

Your experience at Walpurgisnacht

The area in the Harz Mountains where the festivals take place are lifted right out of a fairytale or Christmas card. They are some of the most historic, medieval, renaissance style villages you will ever see. It’s really easy to believe that the witches are lurking down every lane and in every doorway.

The festivals have huge stages for live music and entertainment. There is a big space in front of the stage where the witches come out to dance, no doubt they’ve been practising for the whole year for their night of nights. The dance is the witches way of welcoming Spring to the region.

Sometimes they pop up on top of floats, trucks, and other platforms to dance in the sky. There is a big bonfire on site and there are plenty of food and beer vendors selling rich German foods like sausage and beer,

This festival concentrates on fun and providing family friendly events. There are wandering artists, kids carnival rides and live bands to listen to.

Best views of Walpurgis Night

Around the stage is one of the best places to see the witches dance. Try and get into the front row. They dance on and off all night so if you miss them earlier, you can catch them later.

One of the best things about this festival is the amount of women who are taking part as witches. Younger girls dress up as young versions and older women as old hags. They dance to celebrate Spring but also its a creative dance which is filled with femininity. Spring is all about fertility and what better way to celebrate with wild female power.

The whole family is welcomed to this festival where people play jokes on one another, much like Halloween. Young boys toilet paper cars and objects, while there is also a trick or treat ritual.

Don’t miss the choir performances on stage, they are outstanding, singing songs of Spring.

What to wear

Wear your best witches hat, and bring your broomstick. Be ready to take part in trick or treats, bring a basket with some goodies.

What to pack

Warm clothes, its a cool start to spring in the mountains. Jackets and coats.
Long sleeve tops.

Comfortable walking shoes, the area is famous for its beautiful mountain walks.

Buy tickets

Tickets range from 16.00 – 28.00, depending on festival and can be bought through the Tourist-Information at Wernigerode. Please note than many buy their tickets for the following year the day after the festival so get in touch early to secure them.

Walpurgis Night 2024 Schedule

Walpurgisnacht on April 30 is held in almost 20 townships around the Harz Mountains, with the biggest being in the town of Wernigerode.

Mid morning there is a parade up to the castle. This is also the time that the witches storms the Town Hall, a tradition steeped in theatrical history,

The festival begins for the afternoon and families enjoy food, wine, beer, live music and get ready for the bonfire to be lit at dusk.

People dressed as witches and wolves head up to Brocken to dance around a smaller fire up there and watch what’s going on down below.

You can take “the Witches Express” a little train up there. It looks like something out of a movie.

Top Tips

Night clubs in the town help you party on after the festival, with a public holiday the next day, university students and young people are ready to make a night of it.

By mid-morning there is an informal parade in Wernigerode, the parade route follows up to the castle.

There are amazing artisan markets on in the picturesque towns, some with supernatural themes making incredible handmade goods such as candles, leathergoods, and other traditional arts.

History of Walpurgisnacht

Walpurgis is actually named after a saint, Saint Walpurga. She was English, an abbess, which means a nun who was a queen, she lived in the 8th century.

When she was 11 she was left on Wimborne Abbey, Dorset England to be raised by nuns. She was prominent in Germany, known for missionary work she did, converting pagans to Catholics. She was canonised on May 1 in 870. Although this saint is not directly associated with witches, some of her miracles, like calming the sea during storms, were mystical.

The night is also know as Hexenbrennen “The burning of the witches”,

The night is also sometimes known as Hexenbrennen – the burning of witches. It refers to the time between the 16-18th century when witches were persecuted in the area.

The festival is also tied in with the page celebration of Beltane, and it is said that Spring and its connection to fertility enables the witches to help souls and faeries to cross over between worlds.

Where to stay in Wernigerode

There are a few guest houses, apartments and lodges in Wernigerode. For the best options in the area close to the action on the night on the map below. 

You can also stay in a Villa 20 minutes walk from Wernigerode. You can climb up the hills to a king room at a private villa. Enjoy the ensuite room, mountain views and walled garden. The room has delicious in-floor heating for warm tootsies.

What to eat

There are so many lovely German things to eat in Wernigerode, with a variety of cafes, pubs, brau houses and hotel restaurants.

Breakfast is excellent at Gothisches Haus. The Restaurant is actually called “Die Stuben” and is provides both buffet and ala carte style gourmet German cuisine. Fresh vegetable and meat, beer and wine.

How to get to Wernigerode

Walpurgisnacht takes place in The main square of Wernigerode, a beautiful town featuring Wernigerode Castle built in the 11th century.

International air carriers fly from Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and other locations to Hannover.

Trains from Hannover Airport to Goslar and is a 90 minute journey. You can hire a car, as its a beautiful area for road tripping through.

How to get around the Harz Region

There’s great bus services that get you around all the towns in the region like Quedlinburg, and Goslar. The Harz Narrow-Guage Railway also takes you around the whole network for a daily price.

The Harz region is a walkers dream, with well signposted forest walks and trails leading between all sorts of places. The Witches Way walk is 60 miles long.

Thing to do in Harz Mountains

Harz Mountains is one of the most picturesque areas of Germany. Beautiful historical architecture has been protected, and whole towns have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The area is noted for having many scenic walking trails around its wooded hills. The towns are famous for their Christmas artisan markets, tourist trains and German food and wine.

The Brockenbahn is a 19 km narrow gauge railway between Wernigerode and Brocken. The old steam train makes it way up the hill, talking one and half hours. Operating all year round a return ticket costs € 43.00.

Germany Travel Tips:

Plan ahead: Book your perfect trip with our Germany travel guide and destination information. Does Germany require a visa? Check the visa requirements before you get caught up during your travel.

Spend money wisely: Take public transport and dine in from time to time are common saving tips during traveling. How to spend money wisely in Germany? Make use of technology. There’s an app for everything.

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