During the warm summer months and especially during summer break, Germans have festivals and celebrations all over. Particularly popular are village or town celebrations.  The festivals are usually hosted by the city, while in smaller communities, clubs and villages get together to host a fest. Even kindergartens or schools host celebrations, usually for attending families or potential new students. Vineyards run culinary hikes or festivals, often in conjunction with restaurants. And who could forget the beer and wine fests towards the end of the summer.

These festivals are a great way to get to know your community and meet some of the clubs that are operating in your town. Often communities or towns release little village papers that announce such fests in your own town and the surrounding areas. One of the favorite past-times is Germany is to meet up with good company, sit outside and enjoy yourself while eating a delicious meal and drinking a nice cold beer.

The biggest celebrations are, of course, the fairs or as we call them Kerwe, Kirchweih or Mess. Those fairs can last up to two weeks and occupy huge fairgrounds with rides, beer tents and markets. Some cities have them twice a year, while others just once. One of the most famous one is at the Stuttgart fair ground, the Cannstatter Wasen. This Volksfest runs in the late summer and is visited by over 4 million people annually. Many of the large fairs offer various different rides for visitors of all ages, from the traditional merry-go-round, to haunted house, rollercoasters or pendulum rides. The smaller villages are a tiny version of that with a few rides, a couple food and lottery ticket booths and maybe a shooting stand.

The most famous beer festival is, of course, the Oktoberfest, which oddly enough starts in September. It really is nothing else but a fair with lots of beer tents. However, since the Oktoberfest is so popular, you really have to buy tickets to be able to sit in a beer tent and enjoy the famous beer and food. The biggest wine festival in the world is the Wuerstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim. It’s a huge fair with fun rides and beer tents. Also, the region’s vineyards have booths, and restaurants set up selling delicious wine and local culinary specialties.

Clubs are very popular in Germany and often have been around for decades. Being in a club is serious business. They have their own little hierarchy that runs everything, and people spend a lot of their personal time with the club. Clubs can be founded for everything but often evolve around sports or common hobbies. A great way for the clubs to raise money for their expenses are organizing fests. The clubs will then get together to set up town fests or organizational days. The sport clubs may do bake sales or run food or drink stands. The clubs like to organize activities for the kids such as little lotteries, face painting and the like.  Flea markets often run alongside these festivals, making it a great opportunity for bargain hunters.

The chicken fest has to be one of the most popular fests that villages host, run by your local Kleintier Verein – club for small pets. A beer tent and delicious grilled chicken, often accompanied by live traditional brass music, make for a great evening out. The fish fest is another popular one, held by fishing clubs (of course, with the proper ambiance in a beer tent or beer garden and yummy fresh fish). You may have seen the advertisements for the culinary or wine hikes that are run throughout the year. What better way to relax and unwind than hiking through the stunning vineyards or beautiful countryside. There are booths set up throughout the dedicated route where you can stop, sit, drink and get a small something to eat. It truly is the perfect opportunity to try local specialties and acquaint yourself with the local wines.

Myself, I very much prefer the small fests. They are less crowded with good, homemade food, and I always end up meeting great people. The local bake sales are always the best, great prices and a huge selection. So, don’t miss out!