Germany’s traditions: beer and wine fests

by Stripes Staff
Stripes Europe

What comes to mind when you find out you’re headed to Germany? Why, beer and wine, of course! September and October in Germany brim with wine and beer festivals, from small affairs to mega-events. Here’s the lowdown on how you can experience some of the more famous fests during your adventures in Germany:

Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt, Bad Dürkheim

Make way to the “Schubkarchstande,” narrow wooden booths where strangers become friends as they sit elbow-to-elbow drinking half-liter pours of wine and sparkling water known as “Schobbe” in the local Pfalz dialect. These are served in a “Dubbeglas,” a sturdy glass with dimples that make it easy to hold and hard to break. 300 varieties of locally made red, white, rosé and sparkling wines await sampling. Fans of beer and rock-and-roll find their prerequisites met in one of three spacious beer tents at the world’s largest wine fest.

Oktoberfest, Munich

If you aren’t willing to settle for anything less than THE Oktoberfest then be sure to plan ahead. Tables are reserved by time though, so don’t be surprised if you are eventually asked to give up your table to someone who has reserved it. Tent tickets sell out months before, and while you can get into the fest without tent tickets, you could find that you’re in standing-room-only or waiting in line to enter. Check on hotels or hostels as soon as you can, because rooms go fast.

Don’t fret if you can’t make it to Munich. Pretty much every city or village has some form of Oktoberfest, and most also have other beer fests throughout the year, so keep a lookout for events close to home.

Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart

Stuttgart is home to the world’s second-largest beer festival. This fest takes place every fall starting one week after Oktoberfest begins and is held at the Cannstatter Wasen, a fairground in the Bad Cannstatt district of Stuttgart. It is slightly smaller than Oktoberfest, attracting 4 million visitors to Oktoberfest’s 6 million.  

Freimarkt, Bremen

First held in 1035, Freimarkt in Bremen is Germany’s oldest fair, the biggest festival in northern Germany (covering 100,000 square meters), and features several beer tents. It takes place the last two weeks in October, just after the country’s Oktoberfests wrap-up throughout the country. Fest grounds are located at the Bürgerweide.

Fashion for fall festivals

Once you decide where to go, now it’s time to think about what you're going to wear. Join the fun and go traditional with a “dirndl” or “lederhosen” are the preferred attire.

A dirndl (dern-dull) consists of a blouse, skirt and apron. Skirt lengths vary, and so does the amount of cleavage that will be visible. Pay attention to your apron tie — if tied to the left of center, that means you’re single; right means taken, whether married, engaged or otherwise. A knot tied in the back indicates a widow.

Lederhosen (leh-der-hoh-zen), are knee-length, leather trousers or shorter leather pants with a drop flap and suspenders featuring a decorative brace in the front. The pants are usually worn with a gingham button-down shirt, side-lacing Haferl shoe and knee-high wool socks. Though traditionally worn by men, women frequently wear them now.

Now armed with fall beer and wine fest knowledge, you can be confident you are ready to start living like a local. Prost!

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