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.
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 Volksfes
t, 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
Andy and I at our local village’s 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
Darmstadt Wine Fest
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.
Pumpkin Boat Races at the Kürbis Fest – Photo by Kimberlee Casey
is a much smaller event, but you can still find pumpkin parades, fall food delicacies and more
Ludwigsburg Kurbis Fest. Photo by Kimberlee Casey
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.
Nurnberg Christmas Market
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
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!
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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!