5 reasons to love a German Volksfest

5 reasons to love a German Volksfest

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

As the threat posed by COVID-19 continues to decrease and the measures in place to halt its spread are gradually lifted, we can start to rejoice over calendars of events that are looking much like those we used to enjoy without a second thought.

One type of event whose return will surely be welcomed by many is that of the German Volksfest, literally, fest of the people. These gatherings, whose roots often trace back to annual markets or church holidays, have long given communities the chance to come together in celebration and engage in the timeless communal activities of eating, drinking and being entertained by musicians and showmen. Children could look forward to being spoiled with sweet treats and winning prizes in games of chance, teenagers would be keeping an eye out for a new beau, and adults would look forward to meeting up with old friends that the daily grind prevented them from seeing as often as they’d like. And even after all this time, has that much changed?

Although each Volksfest has traditions and characteristics all its own, they share some common traits that lend them a broad appeal.

High-tech and traditional attractions: Among a Volksfest’s major attractions are its rides, from nostalgic merry-go-rounds to spinning and twirling contraptions that can be frightening even to look at. And when it comes to mobile roller coasters, Germany can boast of some of the best in the world!

Traditional foods: Amongst the bratwurst and pork steaks, those with more adventurous palates can venture into the world of braised kidneys, sow belly sausage or breaded and fried cauliflower.  

Marvelous markets: At most festivals, expect a row of stalls where a range of goods are sold, from kitchen aids to handbags and spices. Frankfurt’s spring fair is famous for a type of sturdy, regionally-produced pottery that’s been sold there for centuries.

Beer and more beer: While brewing is something Germans excel at throughout the year, a few festivals can boast having their very own brews. At Stuttgart’s spring bash, be on the lookout for Stuttgarter Hofbräu’s special “Spring Festival Beer,” described as sunny yellow, fresh and full-bodied with a soft hint of hops and a light play of fruit and a malty-floral aroma. Stuttgart brewer Dinkelacker also serves a traditional edition of spring beer.

Fireworks: Many fests traditionally start or end with a grandiose display of fireworks; Stuttgart’s musical fireworks (cancelled in 2022) are considered amongst the best. Amberg’s fest also opens and closes with grand displays flashing brightly in the night skies.

In many communities, a Volksfest occurs not once, but twice a year: first in the spring and again in the fall. Here are just a few you’ll find coming to a fairground near you during the first half of 2022:

Aachen: Öcher Osterbend, April 16-May 3.

Amberg: Amberger Dult, June 3-12.

Augsburg: Oster-Plärrer, April 17-May 1.

Bayreuth: Bayreuther Volksfest, June 3-13.

Frankfurt: Dippemess im Frühjahr, April 8-May 1.

Kaiserslautern: Lautrer Mai Kerwe, May 20-30.

Mainz: Mainzer Rhein-Frühling, April 9-24.

Mannheim: Maimess, April 23-May 8.

Munich: Frühlingsfest, April 22-May 8

Regensburg: Maidult, May 13-29.

Saarbrücken: Maifest, April 29-May 16.

Speyer: Frühjahrsmesse, April 8-24.

Stuttgart: Frühlingsfest, April 16-May 8. Note that this “springfest light” edition at the Cannstatter Wasen takes place without a few of its standard festivities; cancelled this year are the musical fireworks and the hot air balloon launch. There will also be no large beer tent set up. There will, however, be a beer garden, rides including a giant Ferris wheel and an alpine hut village serving food and drink.

Weiden: Frühlingsfest, April 29-May 8.

Würzburg: Frühjahrsvolksfest, March 26-April 10.

Würzburg’s event website notes that this will be Bavaria’s first post-COVID Volksfest—three cheers for that!

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