IN PICTURES: Germany celebrates a snow-capped festive weekend

Several regions in Germany enjoyed a dazzling white Christmas this year, with many taking to the hills and mountains for sledding, hikes and winter sports.

Winter landscape in Harz, Germany
A blanket of snow covers the hills in the Harz region of Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

A week or so before the festive break, meteorologists were trying to manage expectations for a white Christmas. Computer modelling showed that for those in the western parts of Germany and the lowlands, slush and drizzle would be far more likely to crown the celebrations than snow. 

READ ALSO: Can Germany look forward to a white Christmas in 2021?

In many of the higher altitude regions of Germany, however, icy winds blowing in from Siberia brought with them a covering of festive frost on Christmas and Boxing Day – even in the western states.

Here are some of the best pictures snapped by photographers over the Christmas weekend. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Willnow

A skier surveys the landscape from atop the Fichtelberg in Saxony. On Boxing Day, hundreds of day-trippers flocked to the Ore Mountains for winter sports. However, due to the Corona Protection Ordinance, the ski lifts and other winter sports facilities are currently closed.

Snow in Saxony's Ore Mountains
Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Willnow

The cordoned-off ski lifts didn’t stop groups of walkers and families with sleds enjoying the toboggan slope at Fichtelberg.

Bavaria in the snow
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lennart Preiss

Escaping the log fire, holidaymaker Martin Falke and his dog Miami went for a walk in the snow near Rottach-Egern, Bavaria, in heavy fog on Boxing Day.

Snow in Saxony-Anhalt
Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Hoarfrost formed on bushes and trees in Saxony-Anhalt over the weekend as temperatures of around minus 10 degrees made fine water droplets freeze into ice, transforming the Harz Mountains into a winter wonderland.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Children’s fairground rides, historic buildings and fir trees were capped with snow in a delightfully festive scene at Wernigerode market in Saxony-Anhalt. 

Grape picking in Saxony-Anhalt
Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Christian Modla

In double-digit minus temperatures, employees of the Freyburg winegrowers’ association harvested frozen grapes in Müncheroda, Saxony-Anhalt, on December 26th. With the days still short, harvesting begins in the dark.

Four rows of Riesling grapes were harvested on Boxing Day, and the naturally frozen grapes were pressed in the early winter morning.

Schleswig-Holstein in the snow
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, near the Danish border, was treated to a dusting of festive frost over the Christmas weekend. On Boxing Day morning, a partially frozen Lake Idstedt glistened in sub-zero temperatures. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Swen Pförtner

In Torfhaus, Lower Saxony, a snowman stood ready to greet guests for Boxing Day festivities after the northwestern state enjoyed a covering of snow.

Bavaria in snow and fog
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lennart Preiss

Mountainous Bavaria also saw snow over the weekend – along with a thick covering of fog. Here, a hiker walks through the snow in heavy fog on the Wallberg near Rottach-Egern.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Warnack

In Baden-Württemberg, one hardy wild swimmer went for a dip in the Schwarzachtalsee shortly after daybreak on Boxing Day.

German Weather Service warns of icy roads

Though the winter wonderland may be a dream for winter sports enthusiasts, road users should be prepared for icy roads and pavements at the start of the week – especially in central Germany.

Parts of the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt will be affected on Monday morning, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

Obstructions in road and rail traffic were possible. “The black ice situation will continue into the morning and then weaken,” DWD expert Florian Bilgeri predicted.


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Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After days of summery weather, temperatures in Germany are set to peak at around 30C this week before a cooler spell over the weekend.

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After a long spell of sunny weather, most parts of Germany could see summer arrive early this week with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – but the hot weather may not last long, according to meteorologists.

Heat and sunshine should last through the middle of the week but suddenly give way to cooler temperatures over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) predicts.

On Tuesday, most regions see temperatures in the mid to high 20s and a continuation of the dry weather of the past week. In the northeast, including Berlin, the mercury could reach 28C, and temperatures are likely to be between 22C and 28C across western and central areas.

Those in higher altitude regions of the south and those along the north coast should be the only people needing their rain jackets as this part of the country could see scattered showers and clouds, according to DWD.

Wednesday is the day to plan a lake trip as this is likely to be the hottest day of the week. 

Most parts of the country will stay sunny and dry throughout the day and people can expect summery temperatures of between 24C and 30C.

For those on the north coast, it’s likely to be a little chillier, with temperatures of around 15C and partly overcast skies.

Thursday and Friday are likely to bring with them cooler temperatures, with the hot spell giving way to scattered showers and clouds in many regions over the weekend.

On Saturday, southern regions will see highs up of up to 23C while the northern regions will slip down to 18C during the day.

But anyone planning to be out and about on Saturday evening in the south should bring a warm jacket as the mercury could drop as low as 4C. 

Sunny weather Standbad Lübars

A woman enjoys the warm weather at Standbad Lübars in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

Northern regions ‘too dry’ 

Though most people have been thrilled to see a warm burst of sunshine in the middle of spring, climate experts have been voicing concern about the uneven rainfall across the country.

In an analysis published on the DWD website, the meteorologists claimed that the northern and eastern parts of Germany have been “clearly too dry” in the past weeks.

“A first glance at the current map already reveals that the regional differences of April have continued in May,” they wrote. “In almost all regions of the northern half and in some parts of the centre, hardly more than 10 and in many places not even 5 litres of rain per square-metre fell in the first days of May.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Though experts had predicted low rainfall, the first 10 days of May have been even drier than predicted.

The lack of rainfall has caused groundwater to dry up significantly, sparking fears of forest fires and drought over summer.

Though more rainfall could come at the end of May, the Weather Channel’s Jan Schenk believes the probability of an overly dry summer is now “very high”.

Schenk believes that predictions for rainfall could have overestimated the amount of precipitation by up to 50 litres per square metre in some areas. This is a reason for households to start saving water now, he told HNA