07/17/2012 07:28 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2012

Dinklesbuhl, Germany: A Children's Festival In July

One of my favorite German getaways is Dinkelsbuhl. Each July, a magical children's festival takes place in this lesser-known town on the Romantic Road south of its more touristy neighbor Rothenberg ob der Tauber.

There are similarities between Dinkelsbuhl and Rothenburg in that both towns still have medieval walls and many of its old buildings. However, Dinkelsbuhl is comparatively low-key and it doesn't have sardine-packed crowds in the summer.

A summer highlight is the 10-day Children's Festival -- Kinderzeche translates literally to "children's tribute" -- which takes place between July 13 and 22, 2012.

The celebration is a traditional Volksfest commemorating an incident in 1632 during the Thirty Years War (1618-48) that threatened the town with destruction. According to legend, it was saved by a group of children who stood in the road and blocked the besieging army.


Photo Courtesy: Lukas Geddert

A presentation begins in an auditorium where Lore, the gate-keeper's teenage daughter, leads a group of five- to 10-year-old children to a square just inside one of the gates where the Swedish force (German mercenaries in the service of Sweden) marches in. The children band together forming a roadblock while singing and asking for mercy. Colonel von Sperreuth's heart softens and becomes lenient due to the recent loss of his own son. The age-old town's church bells ring and the mostly German crowd burst into celebratory song.

The ceremony is repeated during the week and on the final day is followed by a parade.

Where to Stay:
Three-star Hotel Haus Appleberg: Affordable and charming, this family-owned hotel is in a restored 15-century farmhouse.