I quickly learned the first time we were stationed here in Deutschland that this country loves to party. This is one of the many reasons I love it here. Pretty much every weekend somewhere in Germany there is a fest so much so that you may not want to miss one. I hope this article helps shed some light on the big ones celebrated and explain some of the different fests. Hopefully, it will encourage you to join our host countrymen and women in raising a glass or trying different cuisine even if it’s just for a night.
City or Village Fests (Stadt Fest/Dorf Fest)
I live in Stuttgart which is surrounded by several small (Stadts) or towns with one big town in the center. This is a huge advantage mostly because the smaller towns celebrate individually as well as our mother city of Stuttgart.
A Stadt Fest is a festival that is typically in a medium to large size town and celebrated for a number of reasons. Mostly held during spring or summer, these fests bring the town’s people together to celebrate the community. At these festivities you will find regional fair as well as usually a local music band.
This year our Stadt Fest in Magstadt celebrated with pork steak sandwiches; funnel cakes; Pomme Frites (fries); and two live bands with one playing “Indie music” for the young-ins while the other (for us older folks) belted out “Sweet Caroline” from Neil Diamond. These fests are quite joyful with beer tents, fried foods and some seasonal wine drink concoction that will sure to bring on a headache of gigantic proportion. (Drink responsibly.) Most of the food stands are usually fundraisers for the local soccer club or other humanitarian groups in town.
Since this is our second tour in Germany, we have been blessed with dear friends for over 20 years who are more like family than friends. Our (family) friends live in a very little town (Dorf) of Mettweiler near Baumholder in the Rheinland-Pfalz area. They celebrate annually with a Dorf Fest with “Spießbraten” (roasted pork and gravy), fest tables, tents and a live band.
At the Mettweiler Fest we begin the weekend with a church service where the pastor gives a blessing for the town, thankfulness of the harvest season, good food and bringing everyone together. With my love of small towns and its people, I never miss this fest when we are in Deutschland.
Everyone pitches in to help or at least the usual subjects do. Even my family jumped in to help set up, prepare some of the food, (man the bar if needed) and tear down. I suggest if you are invited to a Dorf Fest, say “thank you” (Danke) and go. You will have no regrets.
Seasonal Fests in Baden-Württemberg
– celebrated in fall, Ludwigsburg
Apple Fest– celebrated in the fall, Mössingen (Stay tuned for an upcoming article.)
Zwiebel (Onion Fest)– August in Esslingen and September in Güglingen
Kartoffel (Potato Fest)– celebrated in the September, St. Johann
Cabbage (Sauerkraut Fest)– October, Leinfelden-Echterdingen
Wine Fest– celebrated in late August and early September, Stuttgart
Easter Fest– celebrated in February, Maulbronn
Horse Fest– celebrated in February, Leonberg
Spärgel Fest– celebrated in April, regionally throughout
Oktoberfest just needs to be experienced. Whether you are a beer/wine drinker or not, Oktoberfest is one of the most popular and well attended fests in Germany.
If you are lucky, your unit may help you acquire tickets to attend. If not, try to buy them months in advance. Though held in various cities in Germany, Oktoberfest in Münich is the largest one of its kind and attracts thousands from around the world. After attending Münich’s Oktoberfest last year, I recommend not going on a weekend in order to avoid the massive crowd and the heat.
We also really enjoyed Stuttgart’s Spring Fest (The Canstatter Fest
), which is quite similar to an Oktoberfest but half the crowds and not as expensive. Our kids were able to attend without all the hoopla and lots of carnival rides too.
Getting to the Canstatter Fest in Stuttgart
For Stuttgart’s Spring Fest, I recommend not to drive if you can avoid it. The Stuttgart S-bahn (city train) goes directly to the fest grounds in Bad Canstatt. Take the S1 to Kirchheim U. Teck and follow the Lederhosen and Dirndl.
Do I Need to Dress Up?
That’s completely up to you. Some people really enjoy wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl. I did and will again this fall. These traditional clothing items can be purchased in a chain store like C&A as well as various outlets throughout the country.
Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Markt)
Most big or small towns in Baden-Württemberg have their own version of a Christmas Market (Fest). This seasonal festivities consist of specialty events including local singers, a nativity production, an ice rink
(Tubingen) or medieval (Esslingen) Christmas Market
Christmas Markets usually begin around the start of Advent and include local or regional artisans, handmade crafts and ornaments, Glühwein (spiced red wine), marzipan and of course gingerbread and so much more. Here is a list of 20 of the Best Christmas Markets in Germany
Fäsching or Fastnet
Throughout Germany during the month of February, Fäsching or Fastnet is celebrated marking the pre-Lenten season. The German equivalent to New Orlean’s Mardi Gras, this highly decorative and colorful costumed parade, spectacle and fest is a “must-see.” My favorite so far has been the Rottweil celebration in the Black Forest.
Next year I plan on going to Weil der Stadt’s celebration. Several friends went to this quaint town and were very quick to share what a great time they had. So I had to share the tip.
This compilation is by no means a full collective list of all the fests that occur here in Deutschland. It is mostly a primer. I could probably write a book on the German fests I know of which is nothing compared to a German. I hope you will discover and share the “festivities with the rest of us.”
Author’s Profile: Wendy Payne is a military spouse and lives with her family in Stuttgart, Germany. She is a freelance writer, blogger and photographer. She also enjoys gardening, hiking, yoga and sharing Europe with people.
Featured Image Photo Credit: © Michelle Purse