The German train ticket includes events just beyond the country’s borders

The 45-day Classics and Culture festival in Salzburg, Vienna, includes opera, music and theater performances, as well as several free events throughout the city. (G. Breitegger/Tourismus Salzburg)

Enthusiastic travelers who have been lucky enough to call Germany home have enjoyed almost free train travel for over a month already, and German Rail’s (very) famous 9 euro ticket offer up to ‘end of August means train adventures can continue for a while yet. For those who would rather save big than travel at breakneck speed, using regional trains to get where they want to go has ultimately been a godsend.

While there’s no end to delightful destinations in Germany, a number of towns tucked away just outside its borders have suddenly become accessible at a deep discount too. Here’s a look at a few events to experience in nearby lands before you can hit the rails for cheap ends on August 31st.

Military tattoo in Basel, Switzerland: The sounds of bagpipes and wind instruments will echo through the dark skies as the world’s second largest military music festival unfolds. The Kaserne Basel, a former military barracks converted into a cultural center, provides the perfect backdrop for a show in which not only music, but also stunning uniforms and flawless choreography create spellbinding memorable performances. This year’s performance marks the fifteenth edition of the event, a milestone that its organizers plan to celebrate with a focus on “Switzerland” and bagpipes. The 1,000-strong formation also includes His Majesty the King of Norway’s Band and Drill Team, His Majesty’s Welsh Guards Band of Great Britain and the United States Air Force Honor Guard. United States. Popular Scottish band Red Hot Chili Pipers will also take the stage. This year’s edition of Basel Tattoo runs from July 15-23. Ticket prices start at 49 Swiss francs (about $51.20). For a taste of the show, head to the Basel Tattoo Parade, which parades through the city center from 2 p.m. on July 16. The parade is free, but purchasing a badge helps support its organization. Online: baseltattoo.ch

Access: Basel Bad Bahnhof can be reached with the regional trains of the Deutsche bahn without paying any additional costs.

Blues festival in Luxembourg: One of the city’s main summer events makes its post-coronavirus return on July 16, as the Blues ‘n’ Jazz Rallye rocks the capital. The streets of Clausen, Grund and Pfaffenthal come alive as more than 200 artists perform on open-air stages, clubs and restaurants. Expect a crazy mix of jazz, soul, funk and blues. Free entry. Online: tinyurl.com/4bhkrb6y

Getting there: From Trier, Germany, it takes 50 minutes by train to Luxembourg City Central Station. Public transport throughout Luxembourg is free.

Classics and culture in Salzburg, Austria: One of the world’s largest opera, music and theater festivals features world-renowned artists and an ever-expanding program of events aimed at young people. With 174 performances taking place in 17 venues over 45 days, there really is something for everyone here. Opera highlights include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Verdi’s Aida and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, while classical music concerts are performed by artists such as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra , Lang Lang and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Young participants can fall in love with the classics through performances aimed at them, a music education program or an opera camp for 9 to 17 year olds. A lasting feature of the festival are the performances of Jedermann, the founding piece of the festival. Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s play on the death of a wealthy man, based on the medieval mystery tradition, has been included in most editions of the Salzburg Festival since its inception in 1920. Catch one of its performances on Cathedral Square is indeed a drama the item on lovers’ wish list. The festival runs from July 18 to August. 31. A number of performances offer free admission. Online: tinyurl.com/2ykf4sw3

Getting there: The €9 ticket is valid for regional trains that stop in Salzburg, including the RE5 from Munich and the S3 from Freilassing.

Colmar Wine Fair, France: The difficulty in summarizing what the Foire aux Vins d’Alsace is is not a sign of poor planning but rather the pride of its organizers. This event at the beating heart of Alsace wine is also a carnival, music festival, agricultural fair, folk festival… The eclectic mix works in one way or another and has been attracting crowds since 1948 The 2022 edition of the “Foire aux Vins d’Alsace” takes place from July 22 to 31. The entrance cost depends on the time of arrival, more and more expensive the later it arrives. Admission between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. is free except on Sundays. Performers at the concurrently-running music festival include Deep Purple-Alan Parsons Live Project, Zucchero, and Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, among others (separate tickets required). Online: faire-colmar.com

Getting there: A convenient way to get to Colmar is via Strasbourg. Take the German train to Kehl, then take the tram to Strasbourg central station. The train journey from Strasbourg to Colmar takes about half an hour and costs around 5 euros.

Gourmet dinner in Maastricht, Netherlands: Considered the largest open-air food festival in the Benelux, Preuvenemint lends an upscale party atmosphere to pretty Vrijthof Square. For four days, dishes prepared by some of the best restaurants in the city and in the province of Limburg are accompanied by great wines and live music. Some 25 stands will present the creations of their great chefs. Entrance to the festival is free; payment for food and beverages is made using the so-called PreuveneCard, which can be purchased online in advance or on site. Prouvenemint runs from August 25-28. Online: proofnemint.nl

Getting there: From Aachen, Germany, Maastricht is 53 minutes by train; trains run hourly, one-way fares start at 12.80 euros. Aachen Central Station has a Dutch ticket machine.

About Roy B. Westling

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