From medieval Easter fairs and the mystical art of nuns to the less esoteric art of shopping, dancing or horse racing, Germany this week offers much to celebrate.
A welcome man in nuns' cloisters: John the Baptist as an ornament
Gape at jewel-encrusted crowns and centuries old statues, tapestries and paintings at a new exhibition in Essen and Bonn detailing the world of nuns in medieval times. "Crown and Veil: Female Monasticim in the Middle Ages," held in the Ruhrmuseum in Essen and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, features about 600 artefacts from convents dating from 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. The exhibitions examine the meaningful role medieval convents played in developing European culture. The curators aimed to show the often-ignored contributions of nuns as writers, book illustrators and tapestry makers. The exhibition even features the prayer book of the revered mystic Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), one of the most well-known and popular figures in medieval times, in its first public showing. The show runs until July 3.
Dust off your dancing shoes and sway to the tunes of "swing king" Andrej Hermlin and his Swing Dance Orchestra in "The Swinging Sinatra" at the Kleist Forum in Frankfurt am Oder on Saturday. The orchestra will play popular American music from the 1930s, following in the footsteps of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. The band is one of the best-known swing bands in Germany and frequently performs on radio and television and has released two albums.
Open your wallets on April 2 and shop until you drop during the Long Night of Shopping in Berlin. On this evening, stores in the western part of the city, on the Kurfürstendamm boulevard, will stay open until midnight. Unbelievable in a country in which shops do battles with trade unions to extend shopping hours. This year, about 350 shops, restaurants, bars and cinemas are participating. And when the cash is starting to run out, join the street party outside, with people in costumes, food stands and bands. The Long Night of Shopping traditionally takes place the night the clocks change from wintertime to day-light savings time and vice versa. So celebrate consumerism at the country's biggest shopping party.
Drive away winter medieval style at the Easter Cloister Festival at Chorin Monastery in Brandenburg state. The annual festival, put on by the Spilwut group for the 16th year, will feature an exhibition, a parade, concerts, a workshop, a fair, a passion play, stilt theater, musicians, court jesters, knights and travelling entertainers in a style reminiscent of the middle ages. There will be poetry, comedy, dancing and games. Visitors to the fair can take a dip in the bathhouse with oak washtubs and giant copper boilers or explore what happens in the "fairytale" tent. The festival runs from March 25-28.
Shop until you drop
Enter a world of horses at the horse show "Apassionata, Horse Gala" on Saturday in Hanover. One of the most successful equestrian events in Europe, the show features stormy Cossack horses, exalted Frisians, wild Camarague horses, proud Andalusians and others from around the world, with their riders in costume, prancing, dancing, trotting or just strutting their stuff. But whatever horse and rider do, it is a demonstration of the passion between man and animal that organizers say comes through so clearly in this extravaganza.