There are countless things that make living in Germany amazing, but one of the most fun and culturally immersive things to do is go to the fests! Where else can you drink liters of beer at a time, eat giant pretzels and dance on the tables???
While most people think of Oktoberfest while imagining fests in Germany, there is so much more to the festivities than that. In fact, you can still find an equally fun and, arguably, more authentic, experience with any of the 10 different types of fests in Germany listed below that make the country so unique, amazing and an experience unlike any other country.
The largest beer festival in the world is held in Munich every year. If around the region during late September/ Early October, it is well worth going to. However, despite being rich in traditions, Oktoberfest is often over run with tourists and there are plenty of other types of fests in Germany that can prove to be just as fun and give a more “local” glimpse into fest season.
If you are heading to Oktoberfest, don’t forget to check out our Complete Guide to Oktoberfest
Quite literally “The People’s Fest,” you can almost always find an annual fest being held in all German towns. Despite the size of the Volksfest, you will still find liters of beer, delicious food and even if it’s just bumper cars, rides and games. Some of our favorite types of fests are the smaller Volksfests in individual villages because you really see the locals in their element.
– The second largest festival in Germany is held annually in September at the Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest. Many people argue that a better time can be had at this less touristy fest than the giant Oktoberfest. More information can be found here
– One of the best fests we have been to is the Straubing Volksfest, held every late August and is the second largest festival (after Oktoberfest) in Bavaria. This fest has more locals than Oktoberfest but all the fun, food and games! You’ll need to google translate this page, but it has all the information regarding the annual Straubing Volksfest
Seasonal Fests (Fruhlings, Herbst, Sommer)
Similar, if not often identical, to the Volksfests, these are just another excuse for towns and citites to have yet another party. Sometimes, there will be more of a “theme” to these fests, like music and bandstands throughout the city or a focus on food vendors, but the premise is all usually similar; Food and Fun!
What is more fun that seeing cows parade down the Alps decorated with headdresses and clanging bells while sipping wine that only comes out once a year!? Well, nothing probably!!! Check out the extensive post on what an Almabtrieb is and where they are at in our post all about Almabtriebs!
If beer isn’t your thing, you can find wine fests throughout Germany as well. Although known for their purity laws for their delicious brews, Germany produces excellent wines as well. While not as rowdy as a typical volksfest, it is still a blast to walk vendor to vendor trying out different flavors and varieties of wines, some you’ve never even heard about!
While the Rhine Region is often associated with great vino, don’t stop there. For a list of Wine Festivals throughout Germany, search through this extensive list
Pending the region, there are many slang names for the dedication (or anniversary) of the town’s church or Patron Saint. While originally a religious event, many of these fests’ religious tones have now taken a back seat and are simply a great time for the church and town to come together. Often a tree (ranging upwards of 100 feet) is erected and decorated while the townspeople partake in the festivities and fun.
Fall Pumpkin Festivals
A perfect way to celebrate your harvest is with a festival, of course! In addition to the world’s largest beer festival, Germany holds the title for the largest Pumpkin Festival as well. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. In addition to beautifully decorated pumpkins you can enjoy anything from pumpkin wine to pumpkin soup (Kürbissuppe). If it’s a food, they’ll find a way to pumpkin-fy it! There are pumpkin boat races, pumpkin carving contests and more!
While the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Fest is the largest, typically held in September every year, there are plenty of other fall, harvest and pumpkin festivals around Germany as well.
Muggendorf is a much smaller event, but you can still find pumpkin parades, fall food delicacies and more
Christkindlmarkt and Weihnachtmarkts
While not TECHNICALLY a fest, anytime a group of Germans get together for a celebration of some kind, it is a sure fire way to have a great time! Like a Volksfest, even the tiniest of towns often will have their own Christkindlmarkts. Christmas Markets are all the rage from late November (typically the first weekend after the start of Advent) through Christmas. There is nothing more cozy than munching on traditional Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and sipping warm Glühwein (mulled wine) while you walk around looking at beautiful Christmas decorations.
While you can find Christmas Markets all over Europe, two of Germany’s biggest Christkindlemarkts can be found in:
To see when a town near you in Germany is having a fest, check out this list
Similar to a the concept of a Christmas Market, the Easter Markets are a great time to wander around looking at beautiful Easter decorations. One of the most famous items are the hand painted, real eggs. It is fun to watch them being decorated before your eyes before they hang them on their trees outside!
Fasching is the German equivlance of Karnival and Mardi Gras. While Fasching season TECHNICALLY starts on November 11th at 11:11 am, the real festival and events don’t kick off until the week before Ash Wednesday. Depending on the region, there will be different traditions, but regardless of where you are, you will find everyone dressed up in costumes (think Halloween, but not in October!) and often partying or holding parades. While there are Fasching festivities everywhere in Germany, some of the biggest events can be found in Cologne (Koln) and the Rhineland region.
Medieval fests aren’t a German, or even European specific type of event. While you can find Renaissance Fairs all over the States today, what makes European (and German) Medieval festivals so awesome is that they are often held in real-life castles, making the Medieval-ness of it all so much more real, and let’s not lie…cool! Medieval enthusiasts travel throughout the regions just to Medieval-Fest hop. Depending on the size of the fest, you can find jousting, turkey legs and, of course, people dressed up in costumes that will take you straight back to the medieval days. Like most fests in Germany, you are bound to find them all over the country, but for yet another “World’s Largest” title, head to the annual Kaltenburg Knight’s Festival, held every July
Another popular medieval fest is held every year in Cochem
A unique twist on the classic medieval fest is the fun yearly Drachenstich, or Slaying of the Dragon in Furth im Wald
No matter what time of year you are in Germany, you are bound to find a fest that is fun and enjoyable. Chances are, you will be left with great memories, a unique experience and a glimpse into local life.
***Do you have a favorite type of fest in Germany? Tell me in the comments below which one you love the most or one that I missed!
The following two tabs change content below.
Author and Creator at Economical Excursionists
Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!
Latest posts by LeAnna Brown (see all)
- 18 Tips On How To Budget Travel Ireland Like A Pro - March 11, 2020
- Bangkok Itinerary 5 Days: Making The Most Of Your Time in BKK - January 29, 2020
- Krabi With Kids: Why Krabi Is the PERFECT Thailand Family Holiday Destination - January 22, 2020
Looking forward to the xmas market this xmas – Germans like good food and drink! 🙂 who can blame them!
I would absolutely love to visit one of the Christmas markets. We visited the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas store in Rothenburg, and that was amazing! I’m sure Germany really knows how to do Christmas!
Imagine the Kathe Wohlfahrt museum, but to the extreme with AMAZING food, delicious drinks and a magical atmosphere! I hope you can make it to a Christmas market one day, they are truly amazing!
I knew nothing about the rest of the fests in Germany. They all do have a central theme however…BEER! I’m guessing that’s what makes them all fantastic. Thanks for bringing these to our attention.
Haha yes, many do involve good German Bier! But each are so different from one another providing an amazing experience!
Maybe a wine fest would be more my thing and the Christmas markets would be fabulous
You can always enjoy a fest without drinking, if that’s not your thing. Even just people watching can be a blast! But yes, the Wine Fests and Christmas Markets are so much fun!
I would love Almabtrieb as I saw the cows come down from the mountains in Switzerland. I want to definitely go to the Christmas markets in Germany. They seem to do an amazing job with them.
The Almabtriebs are so unique!!! If you ever get a chance, definitely check them out!
I’m German and I can’t wait to stroll through the Christkindlmärkte again. The scent of mulled wine and delicious treats, standing around little bonfires – aaahhh I love it!
And to be honest – the Oktoberfest is overrated anyway 😀 Rather go to one of the smaller ones (we have a Volksfest in almost every city or town in Bavaria).
I am actually currently writing a guest-post about my old hometown Regensburg and I also mention the local Volksfest and the Christmas Markets there. If anyone is interested, I can send you the link 🙂
I agree! The local Volksfests are so much better than the hyped Oktoberfest! We live just outside of Regensburg….truly one of my FAVORITE German cities!
Yes, please send me the link about your Regensburg info. Danke ! RE
I’m also working on several posts that cover Regensburg. Be sure you are subscribed to the blog so that you’ll know when they go up 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!
Went to a great wine festival in Wiesbaden – German festivals are great! Thanks for the info.
So far I’ve only been to Christmas Markets and they were great.
I’ve been to Germany many times, but I haven’t seen any other fests. Yet 🙂
Well, next time you are here, you’ll need to check out a different kind of fest! Enjoy your travels!
Wow, I had no idea Germany had so many fests! I’m really looking forward to attending the Oktoberfest this year (thanks for the tips!) The wine and pumpkin fests sound really wonderful too! I just love the atmosphere of fests and I’m going to plan my next trip to Germany around one of these fests! Thanks!
We just got back from the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Fest today! Definitely not like any other fest we’ve been to, which is exactly why I love that there are so many and that they are all so unique!
Wow, I really had no idea about any of these… other than Oktoberfest! The Ostrich eggs have always fascinated me! I could so see myself going to the pumpkinfest!! So fun. 🙂
I would love to go to Oktoberfest, but these other festivals look great, too! Fasching sounds pretty interesting and I would love to go to one of the Christmas markets someday!
Even though you can’t go, we’ll bring Oktoberfest to YOU for the next 3 days w/ our Oktoberfest Giveaway! http://www.economicalexcursionists.com/oktoberfest-giveaway/#.Vf-eyt-qqko