Last year, I wrote an article titled ‘5 German Beer Festivals that Rival Oktoberfest‘ which fast became our most viewed post, even surpassing the popularity of our detailed and in-depth guides on Oktoberfest itself. Many people who travel to Germany want to experience its renowned beer culture, which is most prominent at its many beer festivals. Unfortunately, making it to the mac daddy of them all, Oktoberfest, rarely fits into the average travel itinerary. Perhaps the mid-September to early October timing isn’t ideal, or the logistics of getting to Munich are too complicated, or maybe you’ve heard how touristy Oktoberfest has become and want to find a more local beer festival experience.

There are tons of alternative beer festivals throughout Germany offering a wide spectrum of experiences from international to local, massive to minuscule, traditional to quirky that are all worthy of your attention. And the five that I originally highlighted are just the tip of the iceberg. Each town seems to have some semblance of an event dedicated to beer, so wherever you’re going in Germany, you can bet there will be a festival in close proximity. Here are a few more beer festivals that will give you a glimpse into the local beer culture in this beer loving country.


8 More German Beer Festivals to Rival Oktoberfest

Munich Frühlingfest

German Beer Festival - Munich Frühlingfest: Augustiner by Chloe

This springtime beer festival is the closest thing to being at Oktoberfest. Munich’s Frühlingfest, sometimes referred to as ‘Little Oktoberfest’, is on the same Theresienwiese grounds as its fall counterpart, thus evokes a similar atmosphere, just on a smaller scale. Three tents and a substantial beer garden – possibly the best way to stick it to winter – entice beer drinkers with their signature brews while Bavarians dress to the occasion in traditional lederhosen and dirndls. The biggest advantage of Frühlingfest is that it gives a flavour of Oktoberfest but without the massive crowds and hordes of tourists. You should be able to find a table without a reservation and, best of all, you won’t have to wait in an enormous queue for the washrooms.

The ‘Münchner Frühlingfest’ runs from April 20 to May 8, 2018.


Hannover Schützenfest

German Beer Festivals - Hannover Schutzenfest by Rudi Heim

The Schützenfest is held in northern Germany, in the Lower Saxony district, and is one part fun fair, one part marksmen competition. Strictly speaking, Schützenfest is not a beer festival, although beer is certainly celebrated at the event’s five large tents, beer gardens and booths selling a variety of alcoholic beverages. Hundreds of rides and carnival style games delight visitors of all ages. While Schützen (‘shooting’) festivals occur in other cities throughout Germany and Austria, Hannover’s is the largest and goes back some 500 years. The marksman parade with over 5,000 participants winds through the streets of central Hannover and is a highlight of the festival. Be sure to test out your own skills at one of the many shooting range booths.

The Hannover Schützenfest runs from June 29 to July 8, 2018.


Barthelmarkt

German Beer Festivals: Barthelmarkt

This annual beer festival and fair takes place in the small town of Oberstimm, which is roughly halfway between Munich and Nuremberg. Barthelmarkt has a strong tradition in Northern Bavaria, with claims that it was first established by the Romans in the first century BC as a horse and cattle market. You won’t find many tourists here but don’t expect a more casual affair as a result – beer tents fill up very early and are at capacity by 6am with patrons enjoying local beers from pilsners to ‘weissbier’ (wheat beers). Barthelmarkt is short and sweet, covering just four days over a weekend, but packs a lot into that time including a horse race on the opening Friday and a horse market on the Monday. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of the festival is that it takes place in August so you’re pretty much guaranteed warm weather, and nothing is more enjoyable than enjoying a beer in a beer garden on a sunny day.

The Barthelmarkt runs from August 25 to 28, 2018.


Gäubodenvolksfest

German Beer Festivals: Gaubodenvolksfest

Moving about 130km east, Gäubodenvolksfest is another Bavarian folk festival in the town of Straubing along the picturesque Donau (‘Danube’) river. While originally an agricultural fair, today the Gäubodenvolksfest offers so much more: thrilling rides, historical parades, fireworks, and, you guessed it, beer. The six tents serve the 1.2M visitors litres of beer from the Straubing-Bogen region, with Beck being the most internationally recognized. While Gäubodenvolksfest has changed quite considerably since its inception, traditional elements are still very much alive including Bavarian cuisine such as pork knuckle and roasted oxen, attire of lederhosen and dirndls worn by the vast majority of locals, and classic Bavarian band’s which energize the beer drinkers. This August festival is beloved by locals, who refer to Gäubodenvolksfest as the ‘fifth season’, and many businesses shut down for the event’s eleven days to partake in the festivities.

The Straubing Gäubodenvolksfest runs from August 10 to 20, 2018.


Limmersdorf Lindenkirchweih

Another Bavarian town with a beer festival, Limmersdorf is in the northern part of the state near Kulmbach (whose ‘bierwoche’ I covered in the original German beer fest post). Lindenkirchweih is a celebration of the town’s 350 year old Linden tree and the main attraction is traditional dancing  by locals youth on a stage erected around the tree. Although there are conflicting tales of why the tree was planted, one thing that everyone can agree on is the importance of it to the local culture. While beer is not the main focus of Lindenkirchweih, it’s certainly has a supporting role. After the mayor taps the first keg of beer, thousands of visitors unwind in beer gardens and tents, enjoying the usually pleasant August weather. Test your skills after a beer or two on the very traditional looking outdoor bowling lane.

The Limmersdorf Lindenkirchweih runs from August 25 to 28, 2018.


Baiersdorf Krenmarkt

This festival is dedicated to the horseradish, believed to be brought over to the region in the 15th century and every year it begins the same way – with the town’s Mayor and the Horseradish Queen opening up the festivities officially. This area of norther Bavaria is a hotspot for horseradish farming and autumn marks the end of the season, when production begins to wind down. The Krenmarkt is a celebration to the (hopefully) prosperous season and allows farmers and locals to kickback and indulge in the fruit of their efforts. This important ingredient is a critical component in all of the culinary options from dumplings with horseradish to sausages topped with horseradish which are best washed down with horseradish schnapps or a refreshing Bavarian beer (which is, thankfully, horseradish free). Other highlights of the festival include artisan stalls with handmade crafts and trinkets, vintage tractors on display, and a large crown statue made from horseradishes.

The Baiersdorf Krenmarkt runs on the third Sunday in September (September 16, 2018)


Augsburger Plärrer

German Beer Festival - Augsberg Plaerrer

The largest beer festival in Swabia, a historical region of Germany encompassing eastern Baden-Wurtemburg and western Bavaria, Plärrer is a two week festival that occurs in the spring and then again in the fall. Over half a million attendees find a plethora of ways to entertain themselves such as exhilarating carnival rides, snack booths serving up delicious Swabian food, a firework show each Friday night of the festival, and buskers and magicians creating a fun atmosphere for the young and old alike. Four beer tents offer up local beers and a rousing good time with bands playing traditional German music.

The Augsburger Plärrer runs twice each year in Spring (April 1 to April 15, 2018) and late Summer (August 24 to September 9, 2018).


German Beer Festivals - Bierbörse 'Paulaner'

Bierbörse (multiple cities)

This moving German beer festival has grown quite substantially from its inception over 30 years ago. Originally established as a local summer festival to enjoy beer, the Bierbörse event travels to 20+ cities, mostly in the Rhineland area such as Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Koblenz but also extending further in the country to Hamburg and Leipzig. Held over a weekend during the Spring or Summer, each city’s Bierbörse festivities offers many different beers from all over the world and typically takes place in the centre of the city. ‘Bierbörse’, which translates into beer stock exchange, may not be as routed in tradition as some of the other festivals, but it does provide an excellent opportunity to unwind with locals over some less mainstream brews. If you are interested in trying as many of the 100+ beers available, buy a small sample glass to take from booth to booth.

The Bierbörse runs throughout the year, touring through different cities across Germany. Visit their Event Dates page for 2018 details.


German Beer Festivals photos courtesy of Robin Dance (CC BY-NC 2.0); Chloé (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Rudi Heim (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); Michael.Barry.ie (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); Avarty Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0); Amadon27(CC BY-NC 2.0); tiexano (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


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Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth co-founded Departful in 2012 and is the Managing Director of Departful Media. Since then she has worked between North America and Europe and has published content in partnership with a variety of tourism boards and businesses based around the world. Lauren is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.

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