Back by popular demand after the 2011 edition, guest blogger Lloyd Parfait takes us through his top picks for the very best festivals of the season. Even if you won’t be here, this is a fantastic glimpse into a quirky – and relatively unknown – side of Germany. Enjoy! (Note:Break out Google Translate if you’re going to click the links. These are traditional, annual fests (some are 500+ years old) that don’t necessarily bother themselves with marketing to English speakers!)
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] A [/dropcap]lright gang…summer finally hit Germany just in time for winter to take over in a few weeks. As such, here is the fest calendar that I’ve promised to deliver for the last four months straight. You’ll notice a lot of the descriptions of the fests are similar, if not identical to last year’s, but I’ve made up for it by:
1. including this year’s dates
2. addding Belgian beer fests
3. most importantly, fixed two grammatical errors!
2-5 August 2012: Stuttgart; Sommerfest:
One of my favorites during the whole fest season. Stuttgart’s schlossplatz is transformed to accommodate the locals’ need for merrymaking and revelry. Tents pepper the entire schlossplatz and kleine schlossplatz with wine, beer, GREAT food and live music. Some of the best restaurants in Stuttgart set up shop out in the main square and present some of the finest fest food you’ll ever eat.
17-19 August 2012: Wittlich; Pigfest or Sauerbrenner (Pig Burner):
Years ago, the guard that was in charge of locking the gate to the walled fortress couldn’t find the wooden pin to secure the gate. So, he found a carrot and put it in its place. Along came a pig, ate the carrot, the gate opened, in marched the enemy and threw the town folk a good old fashioned Wesley Willis yell-down-war-hell-ride. The residents found every pig in the town, killed them all and ate them. They celebrate the event every year with carnival rides, booze, live music and above all…roasted pork sandwiches. There are over 150 pigs cooked and consumed in this gorgeous little village during the fest and it’s an absolute blast. The pork sandwiches are amazing…yeah the booze is on point, too.
17-20 August 2012: Rudesheim am Rhein Wine Festival (Rüdesheimer Weinfest):
Quaint, lovely and immensely picturesque, Rudesheim is a wine lovers’ paradise in this quintessential small village perched on the bank of the Rhein river near Weisbaden. One of the largest statues in Europe stands on the edge of the forest, 250 m above the Rhine. Its a huge monument designed to symbolize the re-establishment of the german Empire and Germany’s unity. The cable car ride up to the top of the hill is worth the view of the river valley alone. This is a festival for sipping wine and eating the local fare.
29 August – 9 September 2012: Stuttgart Wine Village (Stuttgarter Weindorf):
The Stuttgart Wine Village is one of the largest and most beautiful wine festivals in Germany. They also “trade” fests with Hamburg. They give us the Hamburger Fischmarkt in July and we give them the wine village. From the end of August to the beginning of September, the Stuttgart city center becomes a festive wine village. 120 wine alcoves (“do you say this word, alcoves?”) with traditional decor offer up over 250 wines from the region. Great music and food complement the warm and friendly atmosphere.
30 August – 3 September 2012: Bernkastel-Kues; The Mittel Mosel Wine Festival (Weinfest der Mittelmosel):
This fest is one of the best festivals on the Lloyd Par-fest tour. The best wines produced in the fantastic Mosel river valley are offered here for your tasting, consumption, appraisal, and purchase. The tiny twin cities, Berkastel-Kues, explode with booze, eats, live music, firecrackers on the river, booze, people watching, booze, people falling off and getting dragged by the bumper cars, and wine tasting in a wine cellar called Rieslinghaus Porn. Despite the name, it’s actually a family friendly wine cellar that sells the Mosel Valley’s finest offerings. If you get to chatting up the owner about wine, you’ll learn a great deal about the local area, its wines, and growers. The guy is passionate about wine and he’ll even cool off a bottle or two of your purchases to drink there in his cellar while you walk around the fest sampling the hundreds of vintners’ wares. Bring a driver…there are no hotels to be had this late in the game…and public transportation is virtually nonexistent. One year I rented a 50 pax bus and it was easily the best idea I ever conceived. If you want to get a hotel for next year’s fest…book it now. The lady at the hotel I’m staying in this year told me that I actually got the last room available in town…that was over six months ago….
7-17 September 2012: Bad Durkeim; Durkheimer Wurstmarkt:
…Please forgive any spelling errors in the following description…I tremble at the mere thought of this fest. If this fest were the scene of an epic film, as the leading character approached this hallowed land, Carl Orff’s “O’Fortuna” would be playing in the background. As a matter of fact, German Festivals’ evil stepmother, Bad D Wurstmarkt, was in the movie “Lord of the Rings.” It had a small role as the mountain with the fiery eye on the top. Despite its imposing stature as the prominent festival of modern day Germany…magical, and I stress the term – MAGICAL – things happen in Bad Durkheim; a town that is lovingly called many names during this time of year…Bad D, Bad Decisions, Bad Idea, Bad “Drunktime” Durkheim, to name a few. If you’re new to fests, drinking, full frontal male nudity, midget tossing, friend tossing, cookie tossing, or have never been in a chemical fire…this is not the fest for you. Go rush at a fraternity for five years straight, come back and try again. Listen up, be smart…even seasoned Wurstmarkt professionals can get dealt a bad night, quick. I offer this humble admission of defeat in the hopes that you may learn from my mistake. I, Lloyd Parfait, being of not so sound mind, but very sound and moreover, gorgeous body, woke up in Zurich the morning after this fest…sans iphone. Seeing as how I’d let it get the best of me, I went back the next weekend and fed Bad Drunktime my wrath. I was told last year that once the fest is over every day, the party REALLY begins in Bad D. The largest wine fest in the entire world…both by space and volume; the vendors there sell wine by the pint glass! You can get it “schorle” (half wine half soda), but let’s be honest…there’s a reason you’re reading this…
28 Sep – 14 Oct 2012: Stuttgart; Cannstatter Volksfest:
Ah Volksfest! This is exactly like Oktoberfest in Munich…just a little smaller, more fun, you can drink anywhere (not just in the tents like Munich), its not full of 14 year-olds throwing up on themselves, no fights, it’s a little cheaper, and I can see it from my house! I’ve got a seat right up next to the stage at the Goekelsmaier Tent! Get a hold of me if you need tickets…I MIGHT be able to get a few here and there.
**This year, I’m adding a few Belgian beer fests to the list!!!** …and begin:
August 31 – September 2 2012: Brussels; Belgian Beer Weekend 2012:
Brussels’ Grand’Place – Grote Markt hosts the 14th Belgian Beer Weekend with a multitude of stands offering the opportunity to discover some of their best Belgian beers. Many small, medium-sized and large Belgian breweries will present their best selections of beers. Entrance is free and beer prices are very reasonable, 3-4 eur per! Entertainment such as jazz bands, brass bands, activities for children will accompany your beer drinking.
This is one of the better beer fests in Belgium.
September 16 – 17, 2012; Durbuy; Beer, Bread and Cheese Festival 2012:
This is a real treat of a fest! Durbuy is the smallest village in Belgium located in the beautiful Belgian Ardennes! An all weekend event where you can go on a sampling trail and discover regional beers, breads, and cheese.
Address: Place aux Foires 25, 6940 Durbuy
November 9 – 11, 2012: Hasselt; Weekend Der Belgische Bieren
This beer weekend by De Limburgse Biervrienden offers a careful connoisseurs’ selection of 140 Belgian beers. Never been, but it sounds nice. Belgian beer you say? Fine, you’ve convinced me, I’ll go.
Lloyd Parfait currently lives the dream in Stuttgart, Germany, where he splits his
time between protecting the free world and conducting extensive and sometimes
dangerous personal research on the revelry habits of Germans and other European