Germany has an old tradition of manifold festivals which are more than beer festivals. Usually they are not only “beer drinking events”, they are fun fairs and folk festivals. Many of them are held for centuries and have their origins in parish fairs, markets and trade fairs or other historic reasons. In some german regions esp. in South West Germany fun fairs are more connected with wine than beer festivals. It is commonly said that the largest beer festival in the world is Oktoberfest in Germany, though some argue that is actually a folk festival not a beer festival.
Several other smaller beer festivals are held all over Germany throughout the year. The second largest beer festival in Germany and probably in Europe, is the Cannstatter Volksfest, hosted on the Cannstatter Wasen in the Bad Canstatt district of Stuttgart. It starts one week later and is very similar in character to Oktoberfest. Its popularity increases and more and more people come from around the world to visit the festival every year.
Many places have beer festivals styled as “Oktoberfests”, but taken on its own the name is generally taken to mean for the Munich event. Smaller beer festivals similar to the Oktoberfest are common in Germany and take place throughout the year in most bigger German cities. Some of them go on later into the night than the Oktoberfest.
Another large genuine Bavarian festival is the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing. The festival is similar to Oktoberfest but it has an own history and it is not a copy of the Oktoberfest, as is the Barthelmarkt by Manching, which even dates back to Roman times. Other large festivals in Bavaria are Nürnberg Volksfeste in spring and autumn, Fürth Michaeliskirchweih (held since the 12th century), and the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen, with the largest open-air beer garden in Europe.
Other beer festivals include the Hanover Schützenfest, the Freimarkt in Bremen, the Hamburger Dom, the Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest, the Cranger Funfair, the Düsseldorf Funfair. Like the Oktoberfest and the Cannstatter Volksfest, most German beer festivals are also funfairs. They are called “Volksfest” (festival for the people) and are numerous in Germany.
An emerging festival located in Berlin boasts the world’s longest beer garden. The International Berlin Beer Festival hosts over 2,100 different beers from 86 countries.
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