Stuttgart Beer Festival: Germany’s Other Beerfest
Germany does a lot of things big: big castles, big engines, and, most importantly, big beer festivals. Surprise! Oktoberfest isn’t the only one. Germany boasts not just the biggest, but also the 2nd biggest beer festival in the world: the Stuttgart Beer Festival.
Is this beer festival even better than Oktoberfest?
Locally known as Cannstatter Volksfest, it’s another German beer festival not to be missed. Some say it’s even more fun than Oktoberfest. Well look at that… the student has become the master.
For instance, the Stuttgart Beer Festival, being not as well known around the world as its older brother, is also far less “touristy” as a result. The rules on traditionally German music are less rigid, you can drink far more than just beer, and the beer tents are open even longer here. All in all, good times await you. So let’s learn a little bit more about the Stuttgart Beer Festival, shall we?
Looking for something in particular? Skip ahead to these sections:
- Stuttgart Beer Festival: The Essentials
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Beer tents
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Beer
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Food
- Stuttgart Beer Festival: What to wear
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Events
- Stuttgart Beer Festival: How to get there
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Accommodation
- Stuttgart Beer Festival Music
- Stuttgart Beer Festival: money & costs
- Stuttgart Beer Festival history
- A guide to Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart Beer Festival: The Essentials
Where is the Stuttgart Beer Festival?
For starters, in case you haven’t had your coffee yet today, the Stuttgart Beer Festival happens in Stuttgart, Germany. Stuttgart is located just three hours northwest of Munich. And, even though it’s rather close in the grand German scheme of things, Stuttgart is not located in Bavaria. Instead, Stuttgart is located in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. This state is known for, you guessed it, big castles, big engines (it’s the home of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz), and big beer festivals. If you want to include the fact that Albert Einstein was born there, we can include ‘big brains’ as well.
More specifically, the Stuttgart Beer Festival takes place on what locals call the Wasen—the part-time grassy meadow, part-time festival grounds along the Neckar river. The festival has been held here since its very first day in 1818 when it was just a wee ol’ party.
When is the Stuttgart Beer Festival?
Unlike Oktoberfest, this one takes place mostly in October, though it still starts in September because gotcha. The festival begins on the last Friday of September and ends on the second Sunday in October each year, lasting a total of 17 days. And because the festival is based on days rather than dates, here is when the Stuttgart Beer Festival takes place for the next couple of years:
Stuttgart Beer Festival Dates
Beer Tent Opening Hours
On the first day of the Stuttgart Beer Festival, festivities officially begin when the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart completes the traditional keg tapping. This year that happens in the Dinkelacker Klauss & Klauss beer tent – at 3:00 in the afternoon. From there, the Stuttgart Beer Festival typically runs from either 11 or 12 in the AM until 11 or 12 in the PM. Check out when to check the festival out here. ⇣⇣⇣
BEER TENT OPENING HOURS
Opening day: 3:00 pm to midnight
Monday to Thursday: noon to 11:00 pm
Friday: noon to midnight
Saturday: 11:00 am to midnight
Sunday: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
FAIRGROUND RIDES & STALLS
Opening day: 3:00 pm to midnight
Monday to Thursday: noon to 11:00 pm
Friday: noon to midnight
Saturday: 11:00 am to midnight
Sunday: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Opening day: 3:00pm to midnight
2 October: noon to midnight
3 October: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
*3 October is German Unity Day
Stuttgart Beer Festival Beer Tents
Since it’s humble beginnings in 1818, the Stuttgart Beer Festival has grown in length, size, and number of beer tents that offer rotating bars. Progress is a beautiful thing. Today there are nine major beer tents, each with its own personality, atmosphere, food and drink options, and more. Yes, some have bars that spin, some have Alpine cosiness, but all of them have the party you came for.
Meet your Stuttgart Beer Festival beer tents
Sonja Merz Zelt | Serving you festival goers from its fully stocked second-floor carousel bar. Yes, a revolving bar at a beer festival and no, nothing about that sounds crazy. It just so happens to be the greatest thing to happen to the German beer festival since the WonderBra. Serves: Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
Klauss & Klauss | Home of the festival’s opening keg tapping ceremony and the only tent serving up beer from the family’s own brewery. Klauss & Klauss is known for being the most fun tent on the Wasen. And if it’s good enough for the Lord Mayor, it’s good enough for us. Serves: Dinkelacker beer
Fürstenberg Festzelt | The Fürstenberg Festzelt is known for their local Swabian dishes (🎶 Pour some spätzel on me! 🎶) and their Ladies Day where ladies drink for free and no, this is not a drill! Serves: Fürstenberg beer
Göckelesmaier | Known as “the fanciest tradition on the Wasen”, the Göckelesmaier beer tent has been around for 87 years. Every evening in the Göckelesmaier tent fly 87 frisbees, and if you catch one you’ve got a free beer (or something else awesome) coming your way! (We assume the free beers will not be thrown as well, but you never can tell.) Serves: Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
Grandls Hofbräu Zelt | The party never stops at Grandls — and you can see this in their daily photo and video gallery. Tag them on Instagram and you may even end up on the LED wall of the tent during the festival. Serves: Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
Wilhelmer’s Schwabenwelt | Said to be one of the most beautiful beer tents in Europe (but aren’t they all?). The Wilhelmer’s Schwabenwelt has a logo featuring a winking deer wearing purple goggles. If that doesn’t alert you to the good time you’re sure to have, I don’t know what does. Serves: Schwabenbräu beer
Zum Wasenwirt | There’s a different party for every day of the Stuttgart Beer Festival here in the Zum Wasenwirt. Like the SWR3 Wasenparty hosted by a local radio station, Super Sunday, line dancing, and even GayDelight Night. Serves: Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
Cannstatter Oberamt | The Stuttgart Beer Festival’s official wine tent! That’s right, non-beer drinker who somehow still ended up on this website, there’s even a tent for you here. Serves: A buncha other stuff besides beer! (But also Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer anyway.)
Almhüttendorf | For when you want a little Alpine coziness with your out-of-this-world huge beer festival. The Almhüttendorf specializes in Tyrolean cuisine (think: hearty steaks, bratwurst, and Germknödel which is way better than it sounds), cozy Alpine ambience, and you can totally try out your yodeling here. Serves: Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
Tickets and Reservations
So you want a seat in a beer tent without the hassle of shopping around? Might we suggest Stuttgart Beer Festival beer tent reservations? Unlike Oktoberfest, acquiring beer tent reservations for the Cannstatter Volksfest is quick and easy. But like Oktoberfest, it’s also kind of weird, rarely in English, and sometimes fax machines are involved.
Each beer tent at the Stuttgart Beer Festival has its own way of reserving tables, its own offerings and procedures, and its own way of operating. For instance:
➤ Some tents open reservations only to groups of 10. Others will accept anything from 5 and up, in 5-person increments.
➤ Some take only night reservations, some take day and/or night reservations, while others you (the bravest of the brave) can reserve for entire days.
➤ Each has their own method of reservation – Time to bust out the fax machine and your German dictionary!
➤ All tents have their own reservation requirements and mandate that you purchase food and drink vouchers for each person in attendance. However, the prices of these vary depending on tent, location within a tent, and day of the week.
➤ Each will determine how and when you can pay and pick up vouchers.
➤ And sometimes a radish-laden snack board is included simply out of the goodness of their big German hearts.
Unlike Oktoberfest, acquiring beer tent reservations at the Stuttgart Beer Festival should be a piece of cake, even late in the season. Check out each individual tent’s designated reservations page for more information. ⇣⇣⇣
Stuttgart Beer Festival Beer
If you’re accustomed to Oktoberfest and the big 6 Munich Breweries, brace yourself, buck-o. You wont’ find any Spaten or Löwenbräu at the Stuttgart Beer Festival. Just like Oktoberfest has their own, so does the Cannstatter Volksfest.
There are three different kinds of beer sold at the Stuttgart Beer Festival and you aren’t likely to find them anywhere else. Let’s learn a little more about them, shall we? ⇣⇣⇣
Stuttgarter Höfbrau: Stuttgarter Hofbräu has been around since 1872 and, being that it’s the city of Stuttgart’s signature beer, you’ll find it at most of the beer tents. Though the Stuttgarter Hofbräu brand offers many varieties, the one you’ll drink at the Stuttgart Beer Festival is the Stuttgarter Hofbräu Volksfest Bier – which, if you were drinking this in Munich, would be known as an Oktoberfest. This 5.5% ABV beer is specially brewed just for the festival.
Fürstenberg: Fürstenberg beer dates back to the 13th century and traces its roots to deep in the Black Forest. Sounds like the start of a fairy tale, no? You can find Fürstenberg filling the litres at the Stuttgart Beer Festival’s Fürstenberg Festzelt and there alone.
Dinkelacker: The youngest of them all, Dinkelacker beer dates back to only 1888 (ah, so young) when it was founded by Carl Dinkelacker. The brewery is still family owned and at the Suttgart Beer Festival, their 5.5% ABV Volksfest Bier is served only in the Klauss & Klauss beer tent.
Stuttgart Beer Festival Food
So what goes best with big German beers? Big German food, obviously. Much like Oktoberfest, the Stuttgart Beer Festival specializes in big German meals. Big brats, big pretzels, big pork, and, to use a term you’re probably familiar with from elementary school, big chickens.
Each Stuttgart Beer Festival beer tent offers a wide-ranging menu full of German, Bavarian, Tyrolean, and local Schwabian specialties. Some of the biggest sellers are
- the roasted chickens,
- pork shanks,
- a variety of brats and sausages,
- and even non-traditional offerings like salmon and ravioli because the Germans are nothing if not innovative.
The offerings at each tent are different and the menus for each can be found on their websites. And, yes, you can also find vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free meals at the Stuttgart Beer Festival. (But do you really want to? Something to think about.)
Whatever it is you decide to eat, just MAKE SURE YOU EAT. It’s easy to forget about at a beer festival, we know, but it’s definitely on the more important end of the “things I should do at the Stuttgart Beer Festival” spectrum.
What to Wear to the Stuttgart Beer Festival
Though Stuttgart isn’t technically part of Bavaria, to Hell with technicalities! Here at the Stuttgart Beer Festival, traditional Bavarian dress is always welcomed, encouraged, and outright celebrated–regardless of what your DNA test said about your origins.
For the Ladies:
What you’ll see most of the women wearing at the Stuttgart Beer Festival will be a dirndl. This is a traditional(ish) dress over a white blouse of varying styles, topped off with an apron. Dirndls come in all shapes and sizes, colors and cup sizes.
For the Gents:
For men, lederhosen is what you’ll be wearing. Lederhosen can be either shorts or knee-length leather pants with attached suspenders (for lack of a better word). They’re typically worn over a button-up shirt (usually checkered or plain white), and accompanied by some wool knee socks and loafers.
Now, ladies, there’s a lot more you need to know when deciding how to dress for the Stuttgart Beer Festival: what shoes to wear, where to tie your apron bow (yes it matters!), how to accessorize, what’s appropriate vs what’s insulting, and more. Check out this complete guide for all the stuff you need to know before you go ⇣⇣⇣
Stuttgart Beer Festival Events
Okay – so you thought the Stuttgart Beer Festival was just… beer? Wrong! Understood though, it is right there in the name. However, there is so much more to see and do at the Stuttgart Beer Festival than just post up in a tent and lose all sense of time and space.
While here, make sure not to miss out on these special events:
Opening Ceremony | On the first day of the Stuttgart Beer Festival, the opening ceremony takes place at 3:00 PM in the Dinkelacker Klauss & Klauss Festwirte. During this ceremony, the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart taps the first keg of the season and not until then can the masses fill their masses. (German is fun.)
Festival Parade | On the second day of the Stuttgart Beer Festival, you can attend the parade of the horse-drawn brewery carriages, performers in traditional clothing performing traditional dances, and much more. The parade winds its way through town, ending at the Wasen, and is watched in person by over 250,000 people on the streets of Stuttgart, and another half million via television. You can find the parade route on this page.
Family Days | Every Wednesday of the festival is Family Day — a day for 1/2 price parking, face painting, and more… because for some reason you brought your kids to a beer festival.
Closing Party | At 9:30 PM on the last night of the festival, attend the closing ceremony featuring fireworks (by a world champion fireworker, no less) and synchronized music that signal the end of the Stuttgart Beer Festival.
Stuttgart Beer Festival: How to Get There and Get Around
Getting to Stuttgart
By Air // Stuttgart is served by its very own airport (STR) but is on the smaller size and servicing smaller airlines. To get here, you’ll most likely have to make a stop at a larger airport. Another option is the Frankfurt Airport (FRA), great for international arrivals, and just a short train ride away from Stuttgart.
By Land // As with the majority of other major European cities, Stuttgart is accessible via a wide array of trains and buses from almost anywhere on the continent. When booking trains, look for final stops at Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof.
Travelling Within Stuttgart
Once you’ve arrived to Stuttgart, you can travel within the city via the S-Bahn and U-Bahn railways. The stop you’re looking for is the Bad Cannstatt Station, a 10-minute walk from the festival. There’s also a bus system that accesses the festival as well as the trusty ol’ taxi. However, we recommend staying at a hotel as close to the festival as possible for the added benefit of getting around via your own two feet.
NOTE: Uber does not exist in Stuttgart, Germany.
Unique to the Stuttgart Beer Festival is the festival’s Drive-Me-Home service. Essentially, this is the ability to drive your own car to the festival, but be driven home (in your own car) by a designated driver. All you have to pay is taxi fare for your driver to return to the festival. Yes, this is totally real.
For more details on the Stuttgart Beer Festival’s Drive-Me-Home Service, check out this handy post ⇣⇣⇣
Stuttgart Beer Festival Accommodation
Being that the Stuttgart Beer Festival is the world’s second largest, it goes without saying that the 4 or 5 million annual attendees far outnumber available hotel rooms. Therefore, booking a hotel room as soon as you know your travel dates would be a pretty good idea. This is part of the reason we advocate for attending the Stuttgart Beer Festival with a tour group! (If only you were allowed to camp out in the beer tents, hmm… Maybe we should start a petition?)
When booking hotels for the Stuttgart Beer Festival, you want to find something:
- As close to the Wasen as possible
- Or within a walkable distance to an S-Bahn, U-bahn, or bus stop as possible (It’s pretty easy to get lost after a few litres, okay?)
- That includes breakfast (Don’t. Forget. To eat.)
- That is available (This is key! Showing up to someone else’s room mayyyy get weird.)
Our favourite Stuttgart Beer Festival hotel is: Attimo Hotel Stuttgart
In addition to your run-of-the-mill hotels, Stuttgart also offers a range of alternative accommodation including Airbnb, hostels, and we really need to get that beer tent camping thing off the ground.
Stuttgart Beer Festival Music
At the Stuttgart Beer Festival, you’ll hear all kinds of music. You’ll start the day with some of the more traditional stuff (like these Oktoberfest songs for starters). But before you know it the mood will change and you’ll be partying through the night.
Each beer tent has their own program of performers–from traditional oompa bands to rock to dance music and even to obscure American hits, Stuttgart style. There is never a lull and the party lasts from open to close.
Stuttgart Beer Festival: Money and Costs
We’ll start with the good news: attending the Stuttgart Beer Festival is always free! Getting into the Wasen is 100% free, as is getting into the beer tents. The bad news? We still haven’t gotten them to let us sleep in the beer tents. *sigh* Maybe someday…
Finding a place to stay in Stuttgart is going to be the most expensive part of attending Cannstatter Volksfest. The closer you are to the Wasen, the more it’s going to cost you, naturally. The longer you wait to book your room, the more expensive it’s going to be. So what should you do? Book early, or book with a tour group (like us, wink wink).
Hotel rooms at 3-star hotels in Stuttgart are going to run you around 500 euros per night during the two weeks of the festival, though hostels charge less (but book up sooner). Finding accommodation during the world’s biggest festivals is a grand beer-centric math equation, can’t you tell?
Within Stuttgart, getting from one point to another (i.e., your hotel to the Wasen) won’t cost you more than a few dollars. From the area surrounding the festival to the train station is around 15 euros for a taxi ride, for example. Or, if you want to think of it in beer terms, it’ll cost you one maß + tip.
Food and Drink
Though every tent has their own price variations, a one-litre beer (the only kind there is, in our opinion) at the Stuttgart Beer Festival will cost around 11 euros before tip. And, oh hell yes, you’re going to tip.
This next section is solely for the purpose of inclusion and does not reflect our beliefs in any way…
Non-alcoholic beverages. At a beer festival. Whatever, you can still get them if you want them. In the beer tents you can order water, soft drinks, coffee, and/or juice. All of those but coffee are available by the half-litre and cost around 5€. But wouldn’t a half litre of coffee just hit the spot?
The price of meals inside the beer tents also vary but typically range from about 5 euros for a tiny snack to 30 euros for a full blown meal. And, oh hell yes, you’re going to eat (right!?). To give you a better idea for your budget, the most consumed meal at the Stuttgart Beer Festival is the roasted half chicken. This runs between 10 and 12 euros.
Outside the beer tents on the Wasen ground, you can find snacks of all sorts, sandwiches and other meals, yummy sugar-y goodness, and the list is endless. As expected the prices outside the tents are much lower than they are inside. Out there, you can wager about 5-10 euros for each item you snatch up.
In all honesty, the most entertaining thing at the Stuttgart Beer Festival is the people-watching and for that you won’t have to pay a dime.
However, if you were thinking more along the lines of scary roller coasters, fun houses, romantic ferris wheels, or other fun rides, that’ll cost ya. Rides at the Stuttgart Beer Festival will run you a few dollars each and possibly your lunch depending on your order of rides, then beer.
Dressing the Part
Dressing up in traditional garb like lederhosen or a dirndl is a huge part of how much fun you’ll have at the Stuttgart Beer Festival. But… this doesn’t always come cheap.
Dirndls and lederhosen can be found for sale all over southern Germany in the fall, especially in shops on the Wasen. You can pick up something high quality that will last you forever (because, trust us, you’ll be back) and cost a few hundred dollars. Or you can grab something online for way less of both quality and dolla dolla billz. Purchasing your outfits in Stuttgart during the festival is going to be your most expensive option (but will make for the best souvenir).
How much you want to spend on these items is exactly as much as it will cost. You can definitely find something to fit all budgets. For more on how to dress for the Stuttgart Beer Festival, check out this section of the guide.
Stuttgart Beer Festival History
The Stuttgart Beer Festival may be Oktoberfest’s baby brother, but they’re not all that different in age. While Oktoberfest goes all the way back to 1810, the Stuttgart Beer Festival goes all the way back to 1818. They’re close enough to have grown up in similar times, but not so close that they have to share clothes.
It was in 1818 that the area was suffering a time of great hunger and King Wilhelm I wanted to do something about it. In an attempt to raise people’s spirits, the king and his wife hosted an agricultural festival one day after the king’s 37th birthday.
At this festival was a peasant feast (giant pretzels for everyone!), horse races, and an award ceremony for excellence in livestock breeding (some activities just fizzle out over time I guess) and was the largest festival of its kind in the country with over 30,000 participants. And since, in 1818, the festival lasted just one day, those statistics are pretty similar to today’s version. The festival lasted just one day for most of the 19th century, then became three days, then four days. Currently the Stuttgart Beer Festival lasts a whole 17 days each year. Huzzah!
A Guide to Stuttgart, Germany
Like Munich, Stuttgart also has a list of sights and things to do outside of the beer tents (believe it or not). Besides being the home of the Cannstatter Volksfest, in Stuttgart you can:
- Visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum. A temple to the brand in the city of its origin and headquarters. The Mercedes-Benz Museum features 160+ cars from its invention until now and admission includes a free audio tour.
- Visit the Porsche Museum. Also born and headquartered in Stuttgart is the Porsche Museum. It features 80 exhibits of rare Porsche, most of which are still operational and used as “mobile museum.”
- Visit Ludwigsburg Palace. This is one of the largest and fanciest palaces in all of Germany and is actually known as the “Versailles of Swabia.” Swabia is the region of Germany that serves as the home of Stuttgart.
- Visit the Wilhelma. One of the most popular attractions in Stuttgart and is both a zoo and a botanical garden on the grounds of a historic castle.
- However, this list is not all inclusive. There are way more than just the one palace/castle, many museums that don’t have to do with cars, and plenty of parks in which to rest after a day at the Stuttgart Beer Festival.