The Harz Mountains are all about witches, and it’s easy to see why. When the leaves change in the fall, the landscape looks positively Halloween-y. Witches are everywhere to be seen here: on the signs, in the windows, on trail markers in the woods, and in every souvenir shop.
With all the witchy folklore around these mountains, visitors may be surprised to hear that Germany is a country that doesn’t traditionally celebrate Halloween. Instead, it has Walpurgisnacht, the Witches’ Night, which takes place every year on April 30—and the Harz are ground zero for the celebrations.
One of the largest Walpurgisnacht celebrations in Germany takes place at the Hexentanzplatz, the Witches’ Dance Floor, a mountain plateau looming over the sleepy town of Thale. Locals light an enormous bonfire and run wild dressed as witches, demons, and all forms of nightmarish ghouls.
During the rest of the year, the Witches’ Dance Floor acts as a local attraction and cultural venue. Statues of witches and demons from regional folklore line a square where local vendors sell all sorts of Harz specialties from sausages to schnapps. A “witch’s house” and witch museum round out the cultural offerings, while a summer bobsled track, petting zoo, and open-air theater offer plenty more to do.
Know Before You Go
A gondola service runs to the Witches' Dance Floor from the town of Thale for €5 each way or €7 roundtrip. Its hours vary depending on the season. It is also possible to hike from town to the Witches' Dance Floor using the Hexenstieg (Witches' Ascent) trail.