Catch of the day: Worms’ Backfischfest brings Volksfest fun back

Catch of the day: Worms’ Backfischfest brings Volksfest fun back

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Amidst a sea of cancellations, at least one major Volksfest plans to go boldly forward—with all the requisite safety measures duly in place.

The Backfischfest Volksfest takes place in Worms, a small city roughly between Mainz and Mannheim, from Aug. 28 through Sept. 12.

Do be aware that, as goes for so many things in these unusual times, advance planning is the order of the day. Visitors must go online and register to attend before they can enter the site, and the number of attendees will be capped. The inconvenience factor is mitigated by the fact that entry remains free of charge.  

The fest itself: As one might expect from a festival with the word fish in it, there’s water involved. This fest leans heavily on Worms’ location alongside the Rhine, which for many centuries provided fishermen with their livelihoods. Much later, tanners plied their trades on the banks of the mighty river. Nowadays, a promenade built upon the bank of the Rhine passes by flower beds, a brewery and a handful of restaurants with terraces overlooking the river.

What’s billed in normal times as the largest folk and wine festival to be held along the Rhine has not only a curious name, but one that’s an interesting play on words. “Backfisch” is both a tasty fried fish dish popular at fests and a slang term for a young and innocent adolescent girl.

So, what can visitors expect at this fest being organized in compliance with all the COVID-19 regulations currently in place?

At the event venue, the Festplatz, visitors will find an assortment of attractions including a Ferris wheel, giant swings, bumper cars and plenty other rides that twirl and swing. The Wilde Maus is a small roller coaster. Around a dozen food stands will sell burgers, brats, potato pancakes, pizza, French fries and, of course, the famed fried fish. Both beer and wine will flow freely.

The program includes various one-off events. The traditional fisherman’s parade by torchlight takes place at 8 p.m. on Sept. 3. “Fischerstechen,” a type of one-on-one battle in which opponents attempt to knock one another off a boat and into the river, takes place Sept. 4. Wine-tasting sessions on board the Ferris wheel are offered Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 3; for the sum of 140 euros, a group of up to six persons in a single gondola can enjoy a 90-minute ride accompanied by wine, mineral water and nibbles. The “Riesenrad Weinprobe” must be booked online in advance.

More on the COVID-19 regulations currently in place: In order to visit the festival site, in addition to the Backfischfest “ticket,” you will need to provide proof that you a) have been vaccinated; b) have been infected and recovered or c) can show a current negative test result upon entry (rapid tests taken within 24 hours are recognized, but self-administered tests are not). Visitors must maintain the 1.5-meter distance between other groups and follow the arrows directing the flow of pedestrian traffic. Medical masks must be worn on the fest site by all visitors over the age of six.

How to register: To secure your free tickets, go to backfischfest.de/backfischfest/index.php. Up to five tickets can be booked at a time. All visitors, including children, must be registered with their contact details provided. Tickets are non-transferable and issued in two- to four-hour time slots depending on the time of day; the latest possible entry time is 45 minutes after the start of the given time slot.

Getting there: Worms is easily reached by train. From Kaiserslautern, the journey takes roughly an hour and a half with a change of trains at Mannheim or Ludwigshafen’s central stations; from Wiesbaden, it’s roughly a 1.5-hour journey, given the present lack of train service between Wiesbaden’s central train station and Mainz. From Worms’ train station, the walk to the Festplatz takes about 20 minutes.

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