4 fall beer fests you don't want to miss
Fall in Germany is the best time of the year to sample the harvest’s best in wine and beer at farm, folk and city festivals that pop up all over the place. And it’s understandable why. There is something magical about experiencing the large festivals as the locals do — dressed in traditional Lederhosen or Dirndls, singing arm-in-arm and sloshing giant mugs of beer (or even pints of wine), yelling Prost! or Zum Wohl! at one another while eating loads of roasted meats and giant pretzels. What’s not to love?
Most beer fests are held at fairgrounds in the larger cities, or in the city centers in smaller villages. Some tents are temporary and some are actually permanent. Regardless of structure, inside you’ll find rows of tables, live music, food, and, of course — beer! Enjoy the revelry and get to know your neighbors, as you’ll likely be seated with strangers. Some fests don’t require tent reservations or charge tent entry fees, and some do; it depends on the size and location of the fest. Most beer fests are also funfairs with games, attractions and carnival rides.
Fest food is wonderful, unique and something for every taste. Pretzels bigger than your head, all varieties of Wurst, Grillhähnchen (rotisserie chicken), grilled fish, Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), Käse Spätzle (cheese noodles), goulash, Schupfnudeln (fried potato noodles), Zwetschgenkuchen (plum cake), freshly made crêpes with sweet and savory fillings, and Apfelstrudel are just a smattering of the seemingly endless variety of foods available. Order enough to share, so you can try a little bit of everything. Note: Paid tent entry at most fests includes beer (amount varies) and a chicken dinner, which consists of half of a Grillhähnchen and a roll.
While you will find beer tents and banners for “Dorf/Herbst/Volksfests” popping up in nearly every village from summer through October, make time to visit at least one of these big beer events while you have the chance.
Oktoberfest Munich, Sept. 21-Oct. 6
How could we not mention Oktoberfest; more than 6 million people are expected to the largest beer fest and funfair in the world. You’ll need seat reservations for the 14+ tents, or you can try to go during the week when crowds are lighter and hope to get inside without a ticket. You may still have time to purchase a spot on an all-inclusive trip to Oktoberfest with a tour company or club, such as through RTT Travel, Army Outdoor Recreation, the Company Grade Officers Council and the Tannenbaum Ski Club. Inquire at the time of booking if the packages include tent tickets.
Tip: Many people stay at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort then take their shuttle or the train to the event. Fest grounds are located at the Theresienwiese.
Cannstatter Volksfest, Sept. 27-Oct. 13
Stuttgart is home to the Cannstatter Volksfest, the world’s second-largest beer festival and funfair — more than 4 million visitors are expected at the fest grounds at Cannstatter Wasen. With seven beer tents, a wine tent, the Alpine cabin village and numerous other beer gardens and snack shacks totaling some
30,000+ seats, visitors are sure to find a cozy place for excellent food and drink.
Oktoberfest Hannover, Sept. 28-Oct. 14
More than 1 million guests attend what organizers call the second largest “Oktoberfest” in the world. Its two tents can fit 1,000 attendees, and the event has 160+ carnival rides.
Bremen Freimarkt, Oct. 18-Nov. 3
First held in 1035, the Bremen Freimarkt is Germany’s oldest fair and biggest festival in northern Germany. More than 4 million visitors are expected to attend this fair that covers 100,000 square meters and features several beer tents. Fest grounds are located at the Bürgerweide and city center.
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