One of my favourite things about living in Germany is the sheer number of festivals. Most people have heard of Oktoberfest in Munich, but that is the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to historic multiday themed funtimes in Deutschland.
Drinking festivals in Germany
Germany is famous for its beer festivals. The most famous outside the country is Oktoberfest in Munich, with its huge tents and huge beer glasses (called Maß, not stein, by the way). That’s hardly the only drinking festival around however.
If you’re looking for a less manic beer festival, try Stuttgart’s Canstatter Volksfest, or if you can’t wait until autumn, their smaller and more intimate Frühlingsfest in April or May depending on the year.
If you’re more of a wine person, never fear, just head into wine country along the French border, and you will find some festivals! The biggest, indeed the biggest wine festival in the world, is in the tiny town of Bad Dürkheim each September. It’s confusingly called the Bad Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt, but while there are many sausages, there are also pretty tents decorated with wine grapes and giant glasses of cold Weinschorle (white wine mixed half and half with sparkling water) served in traditional Dubbe glasses to prevent you losing your grip on the situation. Brass bands and carnival rides too, of course.
Very specific drinking festivals in Germany
If you’re really into a particular type of drink, it’s probably got its own festival somewhere. I stumbled upon the Federweißerfest in Cochem one year, and enjoyed many versions of this young and fizzy fermented wine drink made from grape must.
The spring Baumblütenfest in Werder, just outside Berlin, celebrates all types of fruit wine. From Apfel (apple) to Stachelbeere (gooseberry), you can enjoy your fruity wine under the trees with a picnic, or wear silly wigs and go on the Riesenrad (ferris wheel).
German Vegetable festivals
Oh yes, you didn’t think there wouldn’t be Spargel festivals, did you? The glorious white asparagus has many festivals in May, from Walbeck in the north to Schwetzingen in the south, celebrating this very seasonal vegetable with crisp white wine and a lot of hollandaise sauce.
In the autumn up north, you can take part in many different Grünkohl (kale) festivals, complete with live music and special farm walks. The Kürbisfest (pumpkin festival) in Ludwigsburg involves a giant hollowed-out pumpkin regatta on the local palace lake, as well as towering sculptures made out of squashes.
German Town festivals
Just about every town in Germany will have its own festival to celebrate anything from the local Altstadt (old town) to the local guilds to whatever industry put their town on the map. For instance, Schwäbisch Hall was famous for its natural brine spring, and they celebrate the historic saltworkers every year at their Kuchen- und Brennenfest (cake and spring festival) at the beginning of June. There are harbour festivals, fishing festivals, harvest festivals – for any time of year there is a festival somewhere.
German History festivals
One of my favourites types of festival are the Mittelalterfeste (middle ages festivals). There is a huge community of people who like to reenact historic events from the Viking age to the Rococo, but the largest number of festivals focus on the Middle Ages.
Some of these giant sprawling events in parks you will find people camping in waxed-linen tents and sleeping on furs, jousting competitions, artisans making clothes and jewellery, food stalls, live music, and even kids games and rides inspired by medieval times. Lots of visitors arrive dressed for the era, but at least half of the people wandering around are in regular clothes. There are often three or four of these events on every weekend across Germany, all through the year from Christmas markets to summer festivals.