Mountain biking in winter? Well, why not?! If you’ve ever cycled through deep snow on a Fatbike with thick balloon tyres, you won’t be surprised to learn that they were invented in Alaska. Their large surface area and low air pressure gives Fatbikes very good traction, meaning even the most snow-covered areas can be negotiated with ease. Klaus Marbe from the Kokopelli Mountain Bike College in Schotten demonstrates how it works and even takes groups of beginners and more advanced riders through the Vogelsberg mountains on Fatbikes. Even children can have a go on special children’s bikes. Beginners must have some mountain biking experience. Advanced riders must have good mountain biking skills. You can enjoy a 1.5 to 3-hour ride through the wintry volcanic landscape with an experienced guide. A beginner’s tour costs 39 EUR per person; an advanced tour is 49 EUR. The price includes bike hire.
As the icy winter storms blow over the Vogelsberg and the world is transformed into a winter wonderland overnight, you can look to the volcanic region for a great variety of ways to get active in nature. The frost and snow turn lakes into ice rinks, cycle routes become hiking trails for long walks, and the flowery mountain meadows make perfect hills for sledging. Guided snowshoe walks from the Taufsteinhütte ski centre are a truly special experience for people of all ages. It takes a bit of practice to properly place the oversized frames of the shoes onto the deep snow, but once you’ve mastered the skill, you can experience the snow-covered landscape around the Taufstein (Hoherodskopf) and the Nidda ponds in a whole new way on these off piste walks. If you want something even more special, you can go on a “moonlight walk” with hot drinks and warm soup to keep you warm. The guided snowshoe tours start at 25 EUR per adult and child (must be over 12 years) and include snowshoe hire and a hot drink.
When the Odenwald has been covered in magnificent white snow, the ski lifts are put into operation as people head to the cross-country skiing trails. A total of five ski lifts in Beerfelden, Birkenau, Hesseneck, Mosbach and Mossautal open up small but stunning descents to winter sports fans. They are equally suited to beginners and experienced skiers. There are floodlights on the pistes, so you can go skiing after work and enjoy skiing in the dark. There are also plenty of cross-country skiing trails for pure natural pleasure: They lead you across elevated plains with stunning views and along idyllic forest trails. Ranging from just under 2 to 15 kilometres in length, there’s something for everyone. Most of the routes are traditional cross-country skiing trails, but there are some skating trails too. After all your exertion on the hills, you can head to one of the traditional pubs in the romantic old towns of Michelstadt and Erbach.
Every winter, Willingen is transformed into an international winter sports venue. A modern snow machine with over 120 snow generators guarantees 16 kilometres of perfectly prepared slopes in Willingen. Willingen is also home to the most powerful cabin cable car in Germany; the longest descent in the Sauerland (two kilometres); ten floodlit slopes; (children’s) ski schools; snowboarding courses; modern ski, snowboard and sledge hire; and plenty of free parking near the modern ski lifts. If you would rather go cross-country skiing, you’re sure to find the perfect route on some of the 100 kilometres of marked cross-country ski trails. Sledging hills, around 40 kilometres of prepared winter hiking trails, romantic horse-drawn sleigh rides and après-ski in one of dozens of ski huts and restaurants complete the wide range of activities available in the North Hessen town of Willingen.
In 2018, the international ski jumping elite will once again head to the North Hessen World Cup venue of Willingen. The FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will attract thousands of spectators to the arena on the Mühlenkopf between 2nd and 4th February 2018. The practice and qualification rounds take place on Friday before the traditional opening ceremony launches the weekend of ski jumping. On the two days that follow, you can watch the best jumpers at close distance as they jump off the largest ski jumping hill in the world in two individual competitions. Tickets are on sale now. A discount is available for tickets bought before 3rd December 2017.
Twelfth Night, or “Raunacht”, refers to the last six nights of the old year and the first six nights of the new one. According to legend, Mother Hulda led the souls of the dead under the water of her pond during the “wild hunting” of the Twelfth Night. The pond is supposed to be bottomless, and Mother Hulda’s silver castle is said to reside at the bottom. You can trace this mysterious story back to its roots together with a park ranger from the Frau-Holle-Land geo nature reserve on 28th December 2017 in North Hessen. The two-hour, torch-lit round walk begins at 4:30pm at the Restaurant Bergwildpark Meißner and ends with a communal campfire. Tickets cost 6.50 EUR per person and include a torch and a warm soft drink. Must be booked in advance.
The Lapland Björkträsk camp is located in the Sababurg wildlife park, an unspoilt location in the heart of the North Hessian Reinhardswald. The campsite features an integrated reindeer enclosure and exudes a unique Nordic atmosphere. They are tundra reindeer and live in the wild, mainly in the upper parts of Lapland. Some of these reindeer are kept as pets to pull sleighs or as pack animals. The reindeer in the Lapland camp of Björkträsk are trained according to the ancient Sami tradition, so they can interact with humans without undue stress. Guests can get close to the animals during Nordic evenings at the campfire or on reindeer tours. The reindeer can also be booked for private or individual events so that you and your guests can experience Lapland culture and life in the wild.
Visitors can enjoy some winter fun in the city too: MyZeil on Ice – the ice rink in the Frankfurt shopping centre – gives you the chance to ice skate with views of the city on the Main. Even when there is no snow on the streets, adults and children can skate around the highest ice rink in Hessen and even try their hand at curling. The illuminated skyline is a real eye-catcher, especially late at night. Mulled wine is available to keep you warm. The ice rink is open daily from 2pm until 9pm from 3rd November and costs 3.50 EUR.
In winter, when Mother Hulda shakes her bed and pours snow on the earth, it is a truly special experience to visit the Meißner-Kaufunger Wald nature reserve. Cross-country skiers can have a great time on the nine-kilometre-long Mother Hulda trail. It has a difficulty level of easy to moderate, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced cross-country skiers. The trail begins at the large Frau Holle-Loipenparkplatz car park. From there, the trail takes you across the Weberhemdmoor to the highest point of the Hohen Meißner – the Kassel summit. According to legend, the Hohen Meißner mountain range is the entrance to Mother Hulda’s underground world. The way back to the large car park takes cross-country skiers through spruce forests and young trees on the plateau above the Struthwiese meadow. If you aren’t sure whether you can manage the full route, you can shorten the trail to four or six kilometres.
The Rhön has plenty of winter sports and leisure activities
to offer on one of the most snow-sure mountain ranges in Germany. The Wasserkuppe – Hessen’s highest mountain – has seven lifts with several descents to suit all difficulty levels, from blue to black slopes. Floodlights mean you can ski until 10pm. Fans of tobogganing can also look forward to a real treat: The extra-long toboggan run is great fun for all. After a wild descent, the “bobsled lift” brings winter guests back to the top of the mountain. Two ski schools help newbies get the knack, and a ski hire service provides the required equipment. Snowboarders can get their adrenaline kick at a spectacular fun park. And if you want to try something new, you can have a go at kite skiing. As soon as the first snow has fallen on the Wasserkuppe and the gliders can no longer get off the ground, these areas are handed over to the kite skiers. When the weather is fine, you can see dozens of kite skiers charging about this expansive area, producing a colourful scene for onlookers.
The climatic health resort of Gersfeld in the Rhön is an ACTIVE NORDIC CENTRE, certified by the German Ski Association. Cross-country skiers can enjoy outstanding cross-country skiing opportunities in the snow-sure holiday resort, and the healing climate is equally excellent in winter. You can get your money’s worth with 60 kilometres of trails, suitable for both skating and classic skiing. Certain trails like the Roten Moor lie 800 metres above sea level. As a result, there is often enough snow here in November and there is usually still enough snow for cross-country skiing come February and March. Cross-country skiers will also find great conditions on the Alten Reichsstraße, on the Rhönwaldloipe near Hilders and in the area around Schwedenwall.
This winter in Wiesbaden, the motto is once again “get your skates on and go”. Ice-skating fans will be able to meet in the centre of Wiesbaden for the 15th time, just a few steps from the Sternschnuppen Market, to get their full money’s worth. The public “ESWE-Eiszeit” ice rink is open daily from 11am to 10pm from 22nd November 2017.
If you prefer a quieter winter mood, you can head to one of the many cross-country trails on the outskirts of the state capital of Hessen, don your cross-country skis and get up close and personal with nature. The “Kellerskopf” ski trail is 4.5 kilometres in length and is just as manageable as the two-kilometre “Platte” ski hiking trail, which starts at the Platte hunting lodge. The “Hohe Kanzel” ski trail includes a few climbs. This nine-kilometre ski and hiking trail takes you from 470 metres above sea level to the summit of the 600-metre “Hohe Kanzel”. The hilly countryside around Wiesbaden transforms into a paradise for tobogganists during the winter months. People put their own “Make Way” signs along paths in fields and forests around Wiesbaden.
Fog and sleet might be giving people a bad case of the winter blues elsewhere, but in Westerwald there’s a fairytale, white landscape calling you outdoors. The finest conditions for sporting fun – on skis, blades and snowboards. The Höllkopf ski resort lies some 642 metres above sea level in Hessen’s Westerwald. As soon as there’s enough snow, the slopes open and the ski lifts come into operation. You can enjoy great excitement on the 300-metre descent. Meanwhile, cosy ski huts are on hand to provide great après-ski entertainment.
Winter sports fans can enjoy the best conditions in the area around the documenta city of Kassel. The densely forested Habichtswald nature reserve is right by the city. The highest point in the region, the “Hohen Gras” (615 metres above sea level), attracts skiers and sledgers and offers as much enjoyment as might find in the Alps. The modern ski resort has floodlights, a lift and a 510-metre piste, which is ideal for skiers and snowboarders. There is even an artificial snow system to ensure the slope can be used when there is not enough real snow. A 200-metre-long toboggan run can be found adjacent, offering winter fun for the whole family. Cross-country ski fans will also find a diverse landscape with three scenic trails in the Habichtswald above the mountain park. The entire winter sports region is easily accessible by public transport, and plenty of parking is also provided in the immediate vicinity of the pistes and ski slopes.
The spa town of Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe always transforms into a winter wonderland. The Bad Homburg Eiswinter at the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad is a real treat. An ice rink will attract ice-skating fans to the smooth ice from 23rd November 2017. Visitors of all ages can enjoy skating around in the romantic atmosphere of the spa gardens. If you want to do something a little more competitive, you can even have a game of curling. Delicious food and drink is served in wooden huts to ensure people waiting around the rink don’t get too cold. Ice skates are available for hire. Please book curling in advance.
The ice rink in Bad Vilbel town centre offers icy fun for people of all ages. The ice rink is located in front of the Kurhaus and will be open from 18th November 2017 to 7th January 2018 for ice-skating, curling and a lovely convivial atmosphere. Mulled wine and sausages are served in huts to keep everyone warm. A day ticket costs 3.50 EUR for children up to the age of 12 and 4 EUR for adults. Skates are available for hire at a cost of 4.50 EUR.
Situated in the centre of Germany, Hessen’s regions and cities offer attractive holiday destinations and leisure activities for walkers, cyclists, culture vultures, nature lovers, families and those looking to relax and unwind. Idyllic timber-framed towns and big city flair, over 3,300 kilometres of long-distance cycle routes, numerous cultural events, 31 spas and health resorts, over 3,000 kilometres of certified hiking trails, a large selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an abundance of castles, palaces and museums − Hessen is a land full of contrasts.
For more information, please visit: www.hessen-tourismus.de
HA Hessen Agentur GmbH is responsible for marketing tourism and conventions on behalf of the Hessen State Government.