When it comes to raising a cold beer to a traditional German brass band, you probably think Munich Oktoberfest; the biggest beer festival on Planet Earth. Well prepare to have all your preconceived notions shattered.
Just 200km from the famous Oktoberfest, sits a small but charming city called Erlangen – home to the second largest beer festival in Germany (and predating Oktoberfest by 55 years!).
If you appreciate good quality beer and oompah bands encircled by thigh slapping and knee knocking lederhosen-clad men, then this place is for you. The 12-day Erlanger Bergkirchweih festival kicks off in May when the Lord Mayor of Erlangen taps the first beer keg. After that, it’s beer, beer, more beer and a little bit of bratwurst or chicken on the side.
The extraordinary festival draws around 1.3 million thirsty partygoers every year, including many visits from Munich’s locals. Here, you’ll find several sizeable beer tents accompanied by Europe’s largest Ferris wheel and endless rides, carousels, gaming booths and food stalls with everything from Franconian dishes to Doner kebabs.
It’s a truly authentic and rustic spectacle, with all the appreciation of a rich Bavarian beer culture and less of the overly intoxicated tourists or tacky commercialisation that Oktoberfest in Munich attracts.
Thirsty people frolicing around the festival grounds
Tips for Tipsy Patrons
Why not enjoy the fresh air with a Banana-flavoured wheat beer out of a traditional stone beer mug whilst relaxing under the grandeur of an old chestnut tree decked with Chinese paper laterns? It’ll be pure bliss – and that’s guaranteed!
Origins from Ancient Cellars
This extravagant festival celebrates a Bavarian beer culture that has been outstanding since the placing of wine cellars dug and webbed deeply inside the Erlanger Castle hill in the 17th century. The locals definitely had the right idea, as this was probably the biggest and best refrigerator for brewing beer in the summer months.
The festival has been a tradition since Erlangen Bergkirchweih’s birth in 1755, when the Pfingstmarkt (a market on Pentecost held in the old town), was relocated to the Erlanger Castle hillside, where it is still celebrated today.
Your Finest Hour
The Erlangen Bergkirchweih beer festival runs for 12-days straight and is open from 10am until 11pm daily – that’s one action-packed day of partying! For those extra wild party animals, don’t forget to check out the local Altstadt afterwards. It’s open late and most people find themselves stumbling into this old traditional pub for one last brew (or 10).
by Tash Martí, Events and Party Manager at Thirsty Swagman