Anybody who enjoys a cold pint every now and again will probably be aware that the annual Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is the most famous festival of its kind. However, there are many other options for those looking to travel to Europe and sample a unique atmosphere, culture and, of course, local brew.
Oktoberfest tends to be very popular and so you may find it difficult to organise travel and accommodation, especially at this relatively late stage. However, that doesn't mean that you have to miss out on the festivities all together as these alternative beer festivals offer just as much fun, frivolity and frothy beverages to get you in the party spirit. And the best part is that you're likely to have more spending money in your pocket by avoiding the inflated prices that are apparent in Munich around this busy time of year.
Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart
As an alternative to the largest beer festival in the world, why not take a trip to the city of Stuttgart to experience the second largest. And as the Cannstatter Wasen festival was initially held to celebrate the end of years of hunger, rest assured there will be plenty of food and drink in which to indulge.
The celebrations in Stuttgart were originally focussed on agricultural products and competitions were held in order to encourage farmers to produce more crops. Since this first event in 1818 though, the festival has grown in stature every year and now offers many different types of entertainment for locals and tourists alike. As well as over seventy different types of beer to sample, there are fairground rides that seem to get better and better every year, regional food such as 'Käsespätzle' (noodles with cheese) for everyone to try, and an enormous market selling everything from jewellery to handcrafted gifts.
The festivities begin on the 26th of September with the traditional keg tapping ceremony. Then after three weeks of parades, drinking and even hot air balloon races, things are brought to a close with a dramatic firework display on the 12th of October.
Hamburger Winter Dom, Hamburg
If you would rather visit northern Germany as opposed to one of its southern cities, the celebrations in Hamburg are more than a match for those at Oktoberfest. You may have to delay your trip by a month or so longer (the Hamburg winter beer festival starts on the 7thof November in 2014), but it will definitely be well worth the wait.
Not once, not twice, but three times a year the people of Hamburg open up the gates of their fair city so that people from all over the world can join them in one big party. The festival began in the 14th century when the street performers and local craftsmen were offered the chance to shelter in the city's cathedral. Since then, people have gathered in this part of town every year in order to show off their wares, entertain the masses and…well, drink beer.
The thrilling fairground attractions, Christmassy atmosphere and decision to make Wednesdays a family day mean that the Hamburger Dom is accessible to people of all ages. Whilst older revellers looking to continue the party into the small hours of the morning can venture onto the 'Reeperbahn' where bars and clubs stay open until long after everyone else has gone home.
Beer And Whisky Festival, Stockholm
When it comes to European beer festivals, the fun and games are not just restricted to Germany. And whilst city's such as Prague and Brussels hold celebrations earlier in the year, the Stockholm beer and whisky festival occurs at a similar time to Oktoberfest.
Now in its twenty-third year, this event will be held over the two periods of the 25th-27thof September and the 2nd-4th of October. Here, you will not only get to taste a variety of different hop flavoured beverages, but also get to sample a wide selection of whiskies, ciders, rums, tequila and even some calvados. Over 100 different brewers and distillers will be present at the festival as everybody gets into the party spirit. Familiar names such as Adnams, Brewdog and Newcastle Brown Ale have all exhibited their products in the past, but there is sure to be plenty of more obscure brands vying to become your new favourite tipple.
Please note the legal drinking age in Sweden is 20 and, therefore, anyone under this will not be allowed entry into the festival.
Back in Germany, it's time to take a look at a beer festival that is so ingrained into the local way of life that it is often referred to as the city's fifth season. This is known as Germany's oldest festival and can be traced back to 1035. Every year the, usually calm and collected, people of Bremen break out of their daily routine and indulge in two weeks of street dancing, drinking and anything else that constitutes a party.
This year Bremen Freimarkt will take place between the 17th of October and the 2nd of November; starting almost two weeks after the conclusion of Oktoberfest. The tents that line the streets will be swaying with people listing to music of all kinds, whilst thrill seekers will fall in love with the plethora of rides that make up a fairground that never fails to disappoint. Artisan products will be available to purchase whilst there will be plenty of food stalls to help you line your stomachs prior to a drinking session that is likely to take you into the small hours of the next morning.
The smell of fresh dough and sight of delightful candies will stir all of your senses as you join in with the local cries of "Ischa Freimarkt" (it is Freimarkt).
If you would like to visit any of these exciting beer festivals then the team at Fred.\ Holidays can help to arrange your travel, accommodation and more. Simply give us a call today or fill in an online enquiry.