The start of fall in Germany not only means cooler weather, leaves changing and lots of rain, but also a season of festivals. We all know of Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest, which starts up next weekend. However there is a lesser known, but equally as awesome, festival here in my region called Herbstfest. Herbstfest, literally translated to “Fall Fest”, is located in the city of Rosenheim, about 40 minutes south of Munich, and runs the 3 weekends/2 weeks prior to the opening of Oktoberfest. This means that if you’re a hardcore fest-goer, you have 6 weekends in a row to participate in.
Herbstfest consists of fairgrounds with all of the fun rides and games and delicious Bavarian food stands, and then 2 large beer tents: The Auer-Bräu, holding 7,000 people, and the Flötzinger-Bräu, holding 9,500.
It’s much better if you have a table reserved in one of these tents, but if you don’t, you can arrive early enough in the day and usually stake out a spot. That’s what we did.
I attended my first Herbstfest on opening day with a group of friends from my church. We arrived around 12:30pm, all wearing the traditional Bavarian Tracht (Lederhosen for the men, Dirndl for the women). We lucked out and found a completely open table towards the back of the Auer-Bräu tent that wasn’t reserved, so we posted up there. Throughout the day we rotated having people claim the table, while the rest went out and enjoyed the fairgrounds and fresh air. By the evening, everyone ended up back in the tent to eat, drink and sing the famous Bavarian festival songs. Most of these songs require one to stand on the table’s benches, sing really loudly, and dance. If you’re shy, don’t worry… all 7,000 people in the tent are doing it with you, so everyone fits in.
Not a big beer drinker? Too bad. You can’t order a regular sized beer at these festivals. All of the beers are served in a giant mug called a Mass, holding exactly 1 Liter of beer. Each mass costs about 8 Euros (approx $10.50 USD). When you’re there as long as we were, it’s a good idea to go easy and take lots of breaks!
My friends and I proudly stayed until closing time, 11:00 pm, after an exhausting but really fun day.
Oktoberfest starts up this coming weekend, so I’ll be heading into Munich at some point in the next few weeks to check that out. I’ll be sure to tell y’all all about it and am looking forward to seeing how it compares to Herbstfest.