From castles and palaces to ancient taverns and half-timbered houses, the state of Baden-Württemberg matches anywhere in Europe for heritage. But Germany’s sunniest region is no museum: everyone is welcome to join in the festivals and traditions that date back centuries and are still part of everyday life in cities, towns and villages.

Dance in the street; bake a Black Forest gateau; see how the world’s best-loved teddy bear is made; taste award-winning local wines. You can even drive your car round a world-famous motor racing circuit. Here are a few of our favourite things that can be enjoyed in Baden-Württemberg – the sunny side of Germany.

1. FASNACHT

Fasnacht is the equivalent of ‘carnival’ or Mardi Gras. So, expect elaborate costumes, ghoulish masks, parades, music, a party atmosphere and a last fling of jollity before Lent begins. Wrap up warmly and enjoy the party! Rottweil, for example, is famous for staging three rip-roaring carnival parades. If you miss Fasnacht itself, you can see the masks in museums, such as the Narrenschopf in Bad Dürrheim.

2. HEIDELBERG: ROMANTIC MEMORIES

Heidelberg is rated as one of the world’s most romantic cities for its ruined castle and its picturesque old town, where the Heiliggeistkirche, the Church of the Holy Spirit, is on the Marktplatz. With its serenity and soaring arches, this is the city’s best-loved church. It was built in the 14th century by Ruprecht III, King of Germany, who is buried here, along with his wife. On wedding days, couples often leave flowers on their grave, but visitors, too, are inspired to make similar romantic gestures.

SPECIAL THEME: BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG - GERMANY’S SUNNY SIDE: A Land of enduring traditions and modern fun

Karlsruhe. Photo: State Tourist Board Baden-Württemberg/Mende

3. WINE: A TRADITION SINCE ROMAN TIMES

Baden-Württemberg has two major wine-making regions; both offer lovely countryside and wines worth discovering. The Baden vineyards lie on the eastern bank of the River Rhine. Follow the 100-mile-long (160-km) Baden Wine Road from Baden-Baden to Weil am Rhein. Württemberg, to the north and south of Stuttgart, is the only German region where red wine is the speciality. Drive all or part of the 318-mile-long (511 km) Württemberg Wine Road from Weikersheim to Heilbronn, Stuttgart and Metzingen. Throughout Southwest Germany, try award-winning wines: Tauberfranken Müller-Thurgau, Lake Constance Pinot Noir, Hohenlohe Trollinger and Rems Riesling.

4. BEER: TASTE SENSATIONS

For variety and quality, Southwest Germany is a beer lover’s paradise. From thirst-quenching Pils to refreshing wheat beer and strong export beer, some 1,000 different beers are brewed in the region. Countless small, family- owned breweries still use centuries-old traditional methods. Check out ‘Brauer mit Leib und Seele’, an association of ten family- owned and run breweries; visit Ehingen, the Beer Culture City, whose 8,000 residents can choose from four breweries, brewing 43 different beers.

5. THE BLACK FOREST: BOLLENHUT HAT

With its 11 bright red pompoms, the traditional Bollenhut hat symbolises the Black Forest. But these hats are much more than a fashion of long ago. The red pompoms signify that a woman is single; black pompoms indicate that the wearer is married. In fact, the Bollenhut hat is special to just three Black Forest communities (Gutach, Hornberg-Reichenbach and Wolfach- Kirnbach), where they are worn with pride for weddings and festivals.

SPECIAL THEME: BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG - GERMANY’S SUNNY SIDE: A Land of enduring traditions and modern fun

Photo: State Tourist Board Baden-Württemberg/Lengler

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