In the same way that Christmas markets can be found on the streets of Germany’s cities throughout December, summer sees those same streets graced by beer tents, oompah bands and hundreds of revellers. Many of the major destinations (and a few smaller ones too) host popular beer festivals which have become an interesting holiday option for British groups looking for good times and great beer. So here’s everything you need to know about Germany’s best beer festivals.
Munich Strong Beer Festival - 23rd February - 25th March 2018
It may have already taken place this year, but Munich’s Strong Beer Festival is a great choice for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the bigger events. As it takes place out of peak season, it can be a very cost-effective choice and its lesser-known status means you won’t be swamped by other tourists. To help you combat the March temperatures, most of the beers on offer at the Starkbierfest will be much stronger than usual. The word strong in the festival’s title doesn’t just refer to the alcohol though, as men take part in a competition to see who can lift the most weight or chop the most wood.
Hanover Beer Festival, 29th June 2018 - 8th July 2018
Also known as Schützenfest, this summer event in Hannover sees shooting take centre stage alongside beer. At the start of the festival, competitors in the various shooting contests parade through the streets along with bands and decorated floats, creating a lively spectacle to kick things off. Visitors can watch the marksmen in action, try out some of the exciting fairground rides and sample a local drink known as Lüttje Lage.
When drinking this, a measure of beer is poured into a square shot glass and brandy is poured into a stemmed shot glass. The two glasses are held in the same hand and drunk in a way that allows the brandy to pour into the beer before going into your mouth. Naturally, bibs are provided for beginners.
Hamburg Summer Beer Festival, 27th July 2018 - 26th August 2018
The city of Hamburg doesn’t just have one annual beer festival, but three. They are held in the spring, summer and winter seasons and all are referred to as the Hamburger Dom. This name comes from the fact that the event started when local merchants were allowed to take cover under the shelter of the cathedral during bad weather.
Nowadays the festival is held on Heiligengeistfeld and is a major event in the city’s calendar. It feels more like a fair than a beer festival, with plenty of thrilling rides to try, but there are endless opportunities to taste the local food and hop-based beverages. Plus, with the infamous Reeperbahn close by, your fun doesn’t have to end when it gets dark.
International Berlin Beer Festival, 3rd - 5th August 2018
Germany’s capital doesn’t disappoint when it comes to beer festivals, with a whole mile of stalls gracing the Friedrichshain district in August. As well as beers from the different German states, there’s the chance to try some tipples from elsewhere around the world, including Asia. A partnership with the producers in the Far East means that there are choices from Japan and Vietnam.
The Berlin Beer Festival also features live bands playing to create a party atmosphere and the best part is that admission is free (sadly, the beer is not).
Oktoberfest, 22nd September - 7th October 2018
The daddy of all German beer festivals is known across the world as the largest event of its kind. Taking place mainly in September rather than October, the event attracts visitors from far and wide and usually requires an advanced booking if you don’t want to pay through the roof for your accommodation.
The atmosphere is incomparable, with everyone there to have a good time. Pretzels and sausages will keep you well fuelled throughout the day and servers dressed in lederhosen and dirndls add to the mood. One of the highlights of Oktoberfest is the ceremonial tapping of the first cask at the beginning. What follows will be an experience you will never forget…or remember.
Stuttgart Beer Festival, 28th September - 14th October 2018
Known locally as Cannstatter Wasen, the Stuttgart Beer Festival is not just one of the largest in Germany but also one of the oldest. Officially started by King Wilhelm I in 1818, it includes exhilarating rides, such as the famous Ferris wheel, and plenty of food and drink. There’s also an open-air market where you can shop for hand-made goods.
The festival is opened by elaborately dressed horse and carts (known as drays) parading through the streets. And, due to its origins as a harvest festival, the main centrepiece is a giant column adorned with fruit which stretches 26 metres into the sky.
Bremen Beer Festival, 19th October - 4th November 2018
As the oldest beer festival in Germany, Bremen Freimarkt is famous for its late-night revelry and excellent local beers. Thrill-seekers will especially love this event as it has the widest range of rides available, many of which are far more technologically advanced than your usual fairground offerings.
The festival is so important to the people of Bremen that the two-week period in which it takes place is known as the fifth season. The party continues pretty much non-stop, apart from the colourful carnival which parades through the streets halfway through.
At Fred. Holidays, we can tailor-make your trip to any of these German beer festivals, as well as other options around Europe. We can include a visit to nearby towns and cities, and produce a package that is completely bespoke. Whatever size your group is, call our team on 0800 988 3369 to book a trip that will be talked about for years to come.