Beautiful, Bewildering Bardentreffen (Nuremberg)

Three days at a world class music festival in the heart of medieval – and beautiful – Nuremberg.

A single trumpet pierces the air. The church bells chime. And a woman in a blooming white lace blouse sloshes a tankard down next to the bowl of covered pretzels. The foam spills over the edge, the bubbles slide into glass and the sound of psychedelic rock swells across the parasols, between the fluttering leaves and down to the table where I am sitting writing this.

I am at the Bardentreffen festival in Nuremberg, and what a beautiful, bewildering affair it is.

Bardentreffen’s direct translation means “the meeting of the Bards” but it’s as far from a medieval flute-and-horn playing jig as a sense of humour is to airport security.

Instead, more than 80 professional bands play on 10 different stages over a period of three days to mark the start of the Bavarian summer holidays. This year, though, the dates coincide with Germany’s declaration of war on first Russia and then France exactly 100 years ago.

With normal rules and regulations swept aside, it’s not the hills but the pavements that are alive with music. Elvis impersonators, slack shouldered reggae slouchers, schoolgirls with recorders, Oasis cover bands – and the single trumpet and those endless chiming church bells.

Nuremberg is a beautiful, thriving city but one where the shadows of past deeds follow you around by the heel if not the throat. The violet, glowing stage set in the ruins of a church destroyed by Allied bombs. The lopsided steep-sloped roofs whose medieval character disguises the 50s and 60s blocks below. The curve of the colosseum as seen from the hilltop castle: the legacy of Hitler’s megalomaniac dreams and the home of the Nazi Rally Grounds.

And they pose an awkward question: why should we come to Nuremberg? To investigate the history of the holocaust and previous war crimes or to laugh and drink and dance with people from around the world?

Read more here:

Isn’t It Time We Forgot The War?” – Inside The Travel Lab