Around the world, cherry blossoms are now attracting travellers from all over. But it’s not only cherry trees that put on a spectacular show in early Spring. Equally beautiful, and making for excellent travel destinations in particular in Europe, are almond blossoms.
The first locations across Europe to enjoy the white and pink glory from early February are spread across the southern regions from Agrigento in Sicily (home to Europe’s largest annual almond blossom festival) to Mallorca, Ibiza, Andalucía and Portugal.
From early March through April, Germany’s Palatinate (Pfalz) area too will erupt with thousands of almond trees covering the landscape in hues of white, pink and purple.
The Palatinate is one of the warmest and sunniest regions in Germany throughout the whole year, which makes it a great location for growing excellent wine. Chances are you have heard about Germany’s famous Weinstrasse (wine street) just south of Frankfurt, which runs over 80 kilometres from Bockenheim to Schweigen-Rechtenbach close to the French border.
Wine of course is the main attraction here, along with an excellent and strongly evolving local culinary scene, and several well-known wine festivals taking place throughout the year.
To kick-off the local festival season, however, are not the wines but indeed almond blossoms.
Almond trees have been brought to the area by the Romans and the nearly 80 kilometres long official almond blossom trail, officially called Pfälzer Mandelpfad runs along most of the Weinstrasse, from Bad Dürkheim to Schweigen-Rechtenbach.
Fun fact: Did you know that the colour of the almond blossom is related to the type of almond grown on the tree? White means the almonds are edible, pink blossoms mean the tree grows bitter almonds which should not be consumed raw as they contain cyanide.
Visiting the area during the ‘pink weeks’, the period from 1st March to the 15th of April, you can expect lots of events and festivals celebrating almond blossoms and more generally the arrival of Spring.
There will be special guided hikes through the vineyards and the areas lined by almond trees, and oldtimer bus will tour the area several times a day (including during the evening), and restaurants, wine bars and wineries will all have their own special culinary almond-themed events.
Hambach Castle (Photo Pixaby)
Old Town Hall, Deidesheim
Pink is not only the colour of trees during the almond blossom season. In the evening, many of the areas historic buildings and monuments are illuminated in pink too. The German Wine Gate in Schweigen, Schloss Villa Ludwigshöhe in Edenkoben, the Hambach Castle in Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Wachtenburg in Wachenheim, the historic town hall in Deidesheim and St. Michael’s Chapel in Bad Dürkheim are some of them.
One of the most anticipated festivals each year is the almond blossom festival in Neustadt-Gimmeldingen. However, if you want to participate, you need to be fairly flexible as the timing of the festival depends on the state of the blossom. Therefore, the date of the festival will be announced only shortly before it actually happens. That said, you can expect it to take place typically around the second part of March. Though it is officially named ‘almond blossom festival’ and you will find lots of almond products, the festival really is Germany’s first big wine festival of the year.
A visit to the Palatinate region in Germany with its many wineries, excellent local wines and culinary-related events happening year-round is always a great idea. But if you have the possibility to time your visit to coincide with the almond blossom season, believe me, you are in for a real treat.