Bier Festivals are an integral part of German culture. When dancing on the tables with hundreds of Germans in Lederhosen and Dirndl, you’ll be fully immersed not only in the German language (and its various accents), but also a historical tradition that lies at the roots of nearly every German Volksfest. Attending a Bier festival can be a hands-on approach to learning that will leave you with unforgettable memories and many German friends.
The famous – and often overcrowded – Oktoberfest might not be the best option. But luckily, there are many alternatives, some nearly as big, where beer lovers can mingle with the locals.
- Cannstatter Volksfest
- Bergkirchweih Erlangen
- Annafest Forchheim
- Freimarkt Bremen
- Kulmbacher Bierwoche
- Starkbierfest München
- Berliner Biermeile
1. Cannstatter Volksfest
Started by King Wilhelm I in 1818 to back his agricultural reforms after a famine in Baden-Württemberg, this Bier Festival is proof of the political dimension that beer and entertainment can still have in Germany. Also known as Canstatter Wasen or Wasen Stuttgart, the festival is nearly as big as the Oktoberfest and opens its doors at the end of September to welcome not only beer lovers but also families with children to three weeks of culinary delights, fun fares, a flea market and traditional parades.
2. Bergkirchweih Erlangen
Dating back to 1755, one of the oldest Bier Festivals welcomes mostly German visitors on top of the traditional beer cellars and the adjoining hill. In the picturesque beer gardens under the old trees, beer connoisseurs will enjoy in the light of hundreds of lanterns the famous Bergkirche beer brewed especially for the 12-day festival taking place around Pentecost. Be sure to brush up your speaking skills in time for this traditional Bier fest.
3. Annafest Forchheim
This German Bier festival has ties to a traditional pilgrimage to the chapel of Mother Mary’s Mother Anne every year on July 26th in Unterweilersbach. On their way back, pilgrims would feast and drink under the old oak trees next to the beer cellars. From those came the beer to sustain them, their families brought the food, accompanied by a slice of typical German bread. Today, visitors celebrate life and beer for 11 days with music, food, fun rides and lots of beer, of course.
4. Freimarkt Bremen
Dating back to 1035, this is the oldest Bier festival in Germany and is held during the last two weeks of October in Northern Germany. It features a huge carnival on the Bürgerweide, which is one of the biggest Volksfests in the whole country. This massive street party virtually never ends, as the nearby Halle Arena welcomes guests until the early morning hours.
5. Kulmbacher Bierwoche
For those who don’t like large crowds but don’t want to miss out on the experience of a typical German beer festival, the Kulmbach Bierwoche in the heart of Franconia is the ideal event. During the last two weeks of July, approximately 120.000 visitors enjoy the specialties of four breweries and the local cuisine.
6. Starkbierfest München
This Bier Festival in Munich is all about the extra strong beer invented in the 17th century by the Paulaner monks for the hardships of the Lenten fast. The fare is something like the small brother of the Oktoberfest, being hosted for two weeks in March and attracting mostly German visitors.
7. Berliner Biermeile
One Bier festival looking to redefine German festivals in a modern way is the Berliner Biermeile. For three days in early August, the longest beer garden in the world spoils its visitors with a mile-long party along Karl-Marx-Allee with more than 2000 types of beer from 90 countries.
Dive right into Bier festival culture
Wasen Stuttgart (also known as Cannstatter Volksfest), Bergkirchweih Erlangen, Annafest Forchheim and many more will welcome you nearly all year round. If you already missed the best events for this year, or can’t hop on a plane to Germany, get in the right mood with the movie “Beerfest”. Accompany two Americans back to their roots and the Oktoberfest in Munich and meet Jürgen Prochnow, one of the most famous German actors.
Sandra lives in Istanbul, together with her kids, cat and dog. As a historian she thrives exploring this ancient city with her two- and four-legged loved ones. Together, they also love to go on adventures through all of Turkey and its neighboring countries. The perfect opportunity to put all the language learning into practice. If she’s not on the road, Sandra is busy putting her experiences into writing as a freelance copywriter for the travel industry and everything related to language, culture and family. Her particular interest lies in providing information on animal welfare with her website contentrundumstier.de