Germany’s popular cultural and lifestyle drink, beer, can be certainly considered something worth travelling for. Although there are other countries known and recognised for their beer, Germany tops the list when it comes to grand celebrations and revelry surrounding this alcoholic beverage.
Germany is well known across the world for its beer, among a number of other things. It is a country that is also known for its grand and hearty festivals that feature beer as the hero. Though stereotypes of the average German being serious and overtly conscious of rules exist in the minds of many, this gets broken once you enter the typical volksfest, which is an event combining beer festivals and carnivals. The famous beer and beer festivals from the Bavarian region in south of Germany as well as some of the other celebrations in the northern part of the country make for fun-filled events, some of which originated from folk festivals. Some of these festivals date back centuries while some are relatively new or decades old, and growing in popularity.
Thousands of people get together in traditional attire, armed with litres of beer and snacks, such as pretzels and sausages, to enjoy the festivals, which can last a few days or sometimes extend up to weeks. These volksfests, which originated from local traditions, now see attendance from people across the world, many of whom see it as a pilgrimage of sorts and an activity to tick off from their bucket lists. Whether the large Oktoberfest or to the mushrooming alternative smaller festivals, Germany’s beer festivals make for fun destinations.
The famed Oktoberfest
Without a doubt, Oktoberfest in Munich, which bags the title of the biggest festival with beer taking centre stage, leads the way when it comes to such festivals. A grand scale folk festival that takes place for a period of 16 days usually, Oktoberfest starts from mid September, extending till the first few days of October. It has been traced back to originating in the year 1810, having taken place for around three centuries now. Reports estimate that more than seven million people take part in this prolonged festivity, where visitors can also avail fun rides and other fair-like entertainment.
Endless varieties of beer tents, large amounts of traditional food, some fun carnival style attractions and rivers of crowds flowing in and out are features of this beer festival. It is important to note that Oktoberfest specifically refers to the volksfest in the Bavarian city of Munich, as many a times, people have misused this term for other similar beer festivals. Oktoberfest has inspired a number of beer lovers across the globe however, with even small pubs in cities like Bengaluru in southern India hosting Oktoberfest themed events and gatherings during the period when the actual festival takes place.
At the automotive city
Stuttgart, the capital city of Baden-Württemberg state in southwestern Germany is the home to the headquarters of elite car-makers Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Close to the Black Forest of Germany, Stuttgart also plays host to a variety of alcohol centric festivities. Though the region is known for wine production, beer also holds importance in the annual Wasen festival, which goes by the official name of Cannsttater Volksfest. The city also offers a smaller spring beer festival, which is held around mid-April to mid-May.
Wasen has been growing in popularity over the years with crowds swelling up each year and it has become the second largest festival of this kind in Germany. An estimated five million people visit this two-week-long volksfest, which has a Ferris wheel as a top attraction. The fun thing about the festival is that one can spot people wearing traditional outfits in much larger numbers as compared to the Oktoberfest. The lederhosens, which are leather pants with suspenders for men and dirndl, which is the traditional dress with a blouse and a corset of sorts for the women, along with cute hats are major attractions too.
Through the year
If one doesn’t get a chance to visit the holy grail(s) of beer festivals during September-October, Germany makes up for them by playing host to more intimate affairs through the year. In the spring to summer seasons, when the weather is suitable for a refreshing glass or two of beer, Germany sees a number of festivals where beer consumption has been a local tradition for centuries now. These annual fairs, some in smaller cities, offer a more immersive and cultural experience and can also help with cutting costs as the months of September and October see prices shoot up in terms of accommodation and travel in the cities that host the volksfests.
Through the year If one doesn’t get a chance to visit the holy grail(s) of beer festivals during September-October, Germany makes up for them by playing host to more intimate affairs through the year. In the spring to summer seasons, when the weather is suitable for a refreshing glass or two of beer, Germany sees a number of festivals where beer consumption has been a local tradition for centuries now. These annual fairs, some in smaller cities, offer a more immersive and cultural experience and can also help with cutting costs as the months of September and October see prices shoot up in terms of accommodation and travel in the cities that host the volksfests.
As times evolve and the demand for beer festivals go up, Germany has also seen newer festivals coming up that are far from their folk festive origins. Rooted in the new age concepts of bringing together brands of beer and citizens of the world, some of the younger beer festivals of Germany are also worth checking out. Perhaps the most exciting of this lot is the International Berlin Beer Festival, which is in an excellent city that makes for a serious beer tour and party. The 21st edition of this festival was held this year in August. The city’s iconic 2.2 kilometre stretch along Karl Marx Allee is the spot for this festival, which sees a new theme each year, with a country or special region as part of the theme. Beer from over 80 countries have made its way to this festival that also offers live music over a course of three days.