Millions of beer lovers are headed to the annual Munich mayhem of Oktoberfest this month. Starting on the 22nd of September this year (not in October like many think) the celebration is a mass gathering of international beer snobs and party hunters. Yet, itis not the only festival worth visiting in Germany.
While Oktoberfest has captured an international audience with its romantic imagery, Bavarian setting, and set up for the masses, it lacks some of the small-town or smaller festival charm. As the world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest is known the world over as the ultimate beer festival, what many tourists miss is the fun, intimacy, and excitement of other annual gems that dot the German landscape.
In April many metropolitan areas hold a Fruhlingfest, a spring beer festival. This equally enjoyable festival offers the same fun as the September version with a fraction of the people, lines, and a more German experience.
I found myself at a Fruhlingfest in April 2010 while visiting family friends in Stuttgart, Germany. Here it is where I made a dirndl and wore it to one of the best nights of my life. At Fruhlingfest I danced with US military kids, and local Germans. I rode go-karts on a 3-story track while buzzed and giggling insanely. I ate delicious and salty roasted almonds. I drank the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. I listened to 80s and 90s cover bands belt out radio classics. I laughed my ass off at versions of David Hasselhoff adorning rides and booths. I thought the CONDOM MAN was a gem that should be at every event involving narcotics.*
Fruhlingfest was the iconic night out everyone dreams of in Germany at a beer fest. My point being, that exploring in the off season and with locals means you get a deeper experience in a country you visit. I avoided the chaos of 6 million people and had the time of my 19 y/o life. It meant pushing out of a comfort zone, dressing up and joining the crowd, and I will never forget the euphoria felt while driving drunk go-karts.**
*the condom man sold funny condoms, funny novelties, and hats that looked like the latex devices.
**I even had a little romance with a Polizei named Mario… maybe named Mario… there was a lot of beer.