Oktoberfest, that beer-soaked German festival that kicks of around this time every year is well… kicking off soon. If you’re a beer lover, there’s no doubt that visiting Munich for the festival is near the top of your bucket list.
The only problem is that the festival has become so commercialised over the years that Munich turns into a nightmare during the two weeks it’s on. Imagine planning a holiday around Oktoberfest, only for it to be ruined by hordes of people jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in those iconic beer tents. Not exactly our idea of #AccheDin.
Not to worry, though, because we’ve dug up some of the most authentic German beer festivals that are best-kept local secrets. So if you want to do Oktoberfest like a local this year, we suggest you try out these places instead.
Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest
Festival dates: September 23– October 9, 2016
Colloquially knows as Wasan to the locals, Stuttgart’s annual beer festival is very similar to Oktoberfest in terms of what’s on offer, therefore making it the biggest rival on this list. An average of four million beer lovers descend on the iconic European city every year to try out the beer, the exciting rides and the wonderful wursts.
Festival dates: October 14 – 30, 2016
This is the oldest festival in Germany and it’s been running for over 900 years. That gave the good people of Bremen plenty of time to perfect the art of throwing one hell of a party. For the seventeen days of the festival, over four million people visit the city to enjoy the attractions. While it’s technically not a beer festival, there’s plenty of great beer on offer to go with the seafood delicacies, which are a local specialty.
Festival dates: April – May 2017
So you want to go to Munich, but Oktoberfest’s maddening crowds are driving you nuts. What now? Well, Frühlingfest is your next best bet. Held during springtime, from which the festival gets its name, the venue is the same one used during Oktoberfest. Take tours of breweries, sample the hearty Bavarian food on offer, and make merry in the giant beer tents – all without having to tiptoe around people.
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Festival dates: April – May 2017
This one is for the hardcore beer lovers. During Starkbierzeit, the brewers of Munich are challenged to produce their strongest beer. Rumour has it that this tradition began with Paulaner monks, who brewed an extra-strong beer to keep them going through the long period of Lent. Now this power-packed beer can be sampled by anyone who makes it to the lesser-known festival.
Festival dates: June 1 – 12, 2017
If you’ve ever attended Oktoberfest in Munich and wondered where all the Germans were, we have an answer for you – they were attending the Berg. Erlangen might be a small town, but it’s easily accessible from Munich and Frankfurt, and more than capable of hosting the one million guests who come down for the festival to drink at any one of the authentic beer gardens along the hill on which the festival takes place.
International Berlin Beer Festival
Festival dates: August 5 – 7, 2017
Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, the city has gone into overdrive to turn itself into one of the coolest and most multicultural destinations in Germany. No wonder then that its beer festival has come to be knows as one of the most inclusive festivals in the world – it’s estimated that over 300 brewers from countries across the world will be at the next festival. A mile-long beer walk, with 22 beer districts and live music playing at multiple stages? Yes, please!
Festival dates: August 2017
You want a beer festival, but you don’t want any other distractions? None of those carnival rides and performances appeal to you? Well, I have news for you. Relatively young at just 68 editions, this festival is the haven of beer lovers across Germany. Bierwoche has none of the frills of the others and focuses solely on the beer for one beautiful week in the city of Kulmbach. Point us in the right direction because this sounds like our kind of festival.
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