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The Bad Canstatter Volksfest -- Second Biggest Beer
Festival in Germany
When most people outside Germany think of beer festivals, the
Oktoberfest pops immediately to mind. After all, it is a world-reknowned
event that draws hundreds of thousands of foreigners to southern Bavaria every
year. But it is hardly the only such event held across Germany every
autumn, and some Germans to prefer the less-touristy and less-crowded festivals
closer to home. And so after already having done the Munich thing, we
elected to try Germany's second biggest beer festival -- the Bad Canstatter
Volksfest in Stuttgart. Its Bavarian cousin may be grander, but this
Swabian edition is just fine for those living within reach of the Black
Its character is very similar to that of the Oktoberfest, but on
a smaller scale. The Volksfest is put on by the region's four major
breweries (Dinkel Acker, Schwaben, Stuttgarter, and Furstenburg) who have one
fest tent each (compared to the some 25 tents in Munich). But there's a
lot more going on at this festival than just the beer. For the first nine
days, the festival grounds also hosted the state agricultural exhibition.
It was a fantastic way to spend a lovely Saturday afternoon.
were fortunate enough to make it to Stuttgart only minutes before the
Grand Opening. A huge crowd was gathered around the ceremonial
festival pole, where a huge traditional band played great music. The
theme was the long-standing partnership between Germany and the United
States -- although the Americans clearly took it in the chin during a
hilarious skit depicts the trials and tribulations of a hungry American
tourist trying and failing to make sense of a German menu in an
old-fashioned 'gasthaus'. This shot was taken as the ceremonial keg
was tapped (although it is too distant to make out at the right).
borough of Bad Canstatt is located along the east bank of the Neckar River
just north of the Green U. The festival grounds are on the river,
stretching for almost a mile. Across the river is the famous
Wilhelmina zoo and the Untere Schlossgarten.
The view here is of the Beer Festival
from one of the two Ferris Wheels. The Ferris Wheel in the distance
claimed to be the largest in Europe (hard to tell). A huge flea
market was behind it. The white tents below were beer houses,
surrounded by the latest and loudest of amusement park rides!
the Oktoberfest, the major breweries had their festival tents, colorfully
decorated and accompanied by a beautiful array of horses pulling a
ceremonial barrel wagon. This one represents the Stuttgarter
interiors were also similar -- full of color, live music, row tables, and
celebrants dancing atop them. This shot was taken from inside the
Furstenburg festival tent as the music began cranking. Around 3PM,
the tent was 2/3rds full, and much of the crowd was getting into the
spirit (one maß at a time).
downed a couple bratwurst and some pommes frites (french fries) with
mayonnaise before making off to the other half of the festival
grounds. Shown here is the gateway to the Baden-Württemberger
Agriculture Exhibition (Landwirtschaftfest). Running alongside the
Volksfest for the first nine days, this Exhibition showcased anything and
everything having to do with farming and industry -- from big tractors to
milking equipment -- along with the products thereof (wines, produce,
cheese, meats, etc.)
exhibition tents lined the outside, each about a football field big
inside, filled with exhibitioners. A number of them had small stages
where bands played music, such as this high-school aged band. We
also encountered a roving band of traditional brass musicians wandering
all over the complex, plus the four horse-drawn wagons from the breweries
did a parade through the Exhibition grounds, their sleigh bells adding to
mentioned some of the big tractors before, here is just a sampling.
This was clearly a big event for area dealerships. Cherry pickers,
cranes, and combines were also present. Other types of equipment
that you'd never find in your local department store -- six-foot diameter
exhaust fans, washing equipment for your neighborhood pig sty,
institutional kitchen equipment (ovens, 100-gallon mixers), and huge milk
pasteurizers. Actually, it was a very good educational opportunity.
course, the most fun we had was visiting the animals, who occupied pens
and tents along the riverside. This shot shows some of the dairy
cows that were safely penned but within reach of friendly visitors
(particularly children, who were there in great numbers). Cows,
horses, pigs, sheep, they were all there. The most fun was listening
when it was feeding time for a certain loud batch of piglets fighting and
climbing over each other trying to get dinner from their beleaguered Mom!
We left around five-thirty in the afternoon, as the large crowds
began entering the festival grounds for a plate of bratwurst and an evening of
music, dancing, and beer. It was already plenty crowded as it was.
So, if you're in Germany and want a good festival to go to, but Munich's a tad
far away, try the Bad Canstatter in Stuttgart!
Trip taken 27 September 2003 -- Page last
updated 01 September 2006 --
(C) 2003 Tom Galvin