Ah, Germany. A big country known for big engines, big castles, and even bigger beers. Beers, in fact, that they’ve been drinking in Germany longer than almost anyone else in the world. So we think it goes without saying that if Germany is going to celebrate something, it’s going to be beer and it’s going to be huge. Let’s talk about some big German beer festivals!
And we might as well start with the Grand Duke of all German beer festivals, Oktoberfest. That beautiful fortnight in the fall where beer drinking and German culture are celebrated to the max.
If you’re new to the world of German beer festivals, we should start by telling you that Oktoberfest starts in September and ends in October. (Gotcha!) It’s actually the world’s largest beer festival welcoming more than six million of the world’s thirstiest citizens each and every year. And while “Oktoberfests” have sprouted up all over the world, Oktoberfest in Munich is where it all began over 210 years ago.
Here you’ll find big brats, big pretzels, and big pieces of pork being served in big tents by beautiful ladies with big… personalities. You’ll drink beer from Munich’s “Big 6” breweries and sing along with traditional bands, dance on benches, and shoot crossbows. Wait, huh? (Yes, there’s a crossbow shooting range of course!) Needless to say, Oktoberfest is the party of a lifetime.
And because the citizens of Munich can’t wait a whole ‘nother year for Oktoberfest to roll back around, they’ve invented a handful of other German beer festivals to keep themselves hydrated until autumn.
For instance, Starkbierfest, also known as the Strong Beer Festival. Starkbierfest takes place each spring and emphasizes the drinking of, you guessed it, strong beers only! We’re talking bocks and dopplebocks with alcohol percentages of 7% ABV and above. Think of this as “high oktane” Oktoberfest if you will.
Starkbierfest takes place at the Paulaner Nockherberg (and various other locations around Munich) and welcomes thousands and thousands of imbibers each year. You’ll find the same delicious German food, the same sexy outfits, and the same revelry and carefree celebrating at Starkbierfest as all the other German beer festivals, but ya know, harder and faster.
Starkbierfest may be celebrated in the spring, but don’t get it confused with Springfest. Barely a month after the end of Starkbierfest (God bless Germany), is Munich’s Springfest, known locally as Frühlingsfest.
Unlike Starkbierfest, Springfest is more along the lines of Oktoberfest–big tents, rides, delicious beers, and all taking place on the Theresienwiese, the same spot as Oktoberfest. However, instead of a whole collection of 10,000-person beer tents like at Oktoberfest, Springfest offers just two. Therefore, you can think of Springfest as a miniature (but still really huge) addition to the list of German beer festivals.
Stuttgart Beer Festival
Alright, let’s get out of Munich for a bit and take a short drive north to Stuttgart, the birthplace and home of Porsche and Mercedes. Vroom, vroom because we’re going full speed ahead at the Stuttgart Beer Festival, known in German as Cannstatter Volksfest. (And #2 on the list of world’s biggest German beer festivals!)
Like Oktoberfest, the Stuttgart Beer Festival incorporates rides and markets and, oh yeah, huge beer tents, litre-sized beers, live entertainment out the wazoo, and a crazy (in a good way) party atmosphere.
The Stuttgart Beer Festival also takes place over 17 days in September and October, but is offset by a week so if you wanted to go to both Oktoberfest and the Stuttgart Beer Festival, no one is stopping you! The Stuttgart Beer Festival, being less rigid traditionally and way more local, is said to be a beer festival better than Oktoberfest. But maybe you should be the judge–or just go to both!
Other German beer festivals
As you’d expect from a country the size of Germany, there are many more German beer festivals to be celebrated. You’ve got:
- the Berlin Beer Festival in August
- Bergkirchweih in June, a huge beer festival in a small town (Erlangen)
- Freimarkt in Bremen in October and November, known as “the largest funfair in Northern Germany”
- Hamburger Dom, sounds like a fast food mafioso, but is also one of the largest German beer festivals in Northern Germany, Hamburg to be exact.
- Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing, one of the largest in the state of Bavaria each August
- Bierfest in Kulmbacher, also known as Kulmbach Beer Week, celebrates the city’s 4 major breweries in July and August.
- and the list goes on.
With so many German beer festivals to attend, it’s hard to decide where to start. We know, this a problem. But we recommend starting at the top and working your way down. Check out some of our Oktoberfest tours and check off this list with us!
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