Having been first held in 1035, the Bremen Freimarkt is one of Germany’s oldest festivals and the largest in the north of the country. Over the course of nearly 1000 years, the celebrations have transformed from a market where local tradesmen would sell their wares to a lively funfair that attracts more than four million people every year.
Traditional tradesmen still dress in medieval garb and offer handmade crafts on the market square throughout the 17-day festival, but the focus has switched to the hundreds of rides and attractions on the Bürgerweide, the giant beer tents, and the buoyant atmosphere that spreads across this passionate city.
With a similar atmosphere to Oktoberfest, Bremen’s Freimarkt provides a great alternative for groups looking for fun and frivolities in the autumn. In 2018, the festival is due to take place from 19th October to 4th November and the Fred.\ Holidays team can help you plan your visit. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or click here to submit your online enquiry. Here are a few things you can look forward to.
Like every good German beer festival, Bremer Freimarkt begins with a grand opening ceremony where crowds gather to welcome the city’s ‘fifth season’. Held in the Bavarian Hall, the curtain-raiser sees the tapping of the first barrel to cheers and applause from the waiting revellers. If you find yourself down the front, you may even get to enjoy a pint from this initial cask. Elsewhere, a sign saying ‘Ischa Freimarkt’ (it’s Freimarkt) is hung around the neck of the famous Roland statue and fireworks extend the celebrations into the evening.
Although there have been calls to remove this tradition from the programme in recent years, the competition to crown Miss Freimarkt is still a popular part of the first day. Female contestants from the city are judged by a panel and the winner is crowned during the opening event. The chosen woman plays a pivotal role during the whole of the festival - leading the parade, hosting VIPs and becoming the face of the celebrations.
With roller coasters, waltzers and pretty much every fairground ride you can imagine, there is so much to keep you busy during the day, but when night falls many people move inside to enjoy the atmosphere in Halle 7. This arena is filled with long benches and traditionally dressed waiters carrying steins to eager partygoers. Live music helps to get people in a celebratory mood and the drinking continues into the early hours of the morning.
Arguably the biggest event of Bremen Freimarkt takes place on the second Saturday when a parade is led from the district of Neustadt to the city centre. The Freimarktsumzug sees people line the streets to watch elaborately dressed performers make their way past on stilts, in floats and on horseback. This spectacle marks the halfway point of the festival and always turns the volume up a notch.
Even when the Freimarkt is set to come to a close, there is still time for one last celebration before the party stops for another year. A mock funeral takes places through the streets so that everyone has a chance to ‘mourn’ the end of the festival. Men dressed as pall-bearers carry a coffin that has been brightly decorated with cuddly toys, sweets and balloons as live music is played in procession and people gather to say their goodbyes.