Monday, December 21, 2015

Move over Oktoberfest, Stuttgart Beer Festival is here

Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest beer festival that takes place in Munich every year. But a little-known beer festival that is held in Stuttgart annually is where the spotlight is likely to be now.

Stuttgart's traditional festival is one of the biggest in the world. Held from September 23 to October 9, 2016, the Cannstatter Wasen is held on a 37-hectare site on the banks of the Neckar. Oh, and its free entry!

For 17 days, visitors from many different nations and generations will laugh, sing and make merry in the exuberant atmosphere of the Cannstatt Beer Festival. Around four million people from all corners of the globe visit the 'wasen' which translates to festival in English. 

The original harvest festival has developed into a popular public celebration with an international impact. On the last Friday in September the seven beer tents, the two wine tents and the Alpine Village will open their doors to the public and the fairground rides will get under way. 

Round about the Fruit Column, the historic symbol of the traditional festival, 330 showmen, hosts and stallholders have a wide variety on offer. A double-looping roller coaster, autoscooters or Chair-O-Planes: modern attractions or old favourites – they're all here at the Wasen. In the festival tents hearty dishes such as grilled knuckle of pork, fried steak or Swabian 'Maultaschen' (filled pasta) are served to go with the mugs of beer.

The first festival on the Cannstatter Wasen was held 198 years ago. Originally the idea of King Wilhelm I of W├╝rttemberg and his consort, Queen Katharina, it began as a combination of a festival for the general public and an agricultural fair, with horse racing and prizes awarded for cattle breeding, and was intended to aid the recovery of W├╝rttemberg's battered economy in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

The very first Stuttgart Beer Festival opened on 28th September 1818, the day after the king's 36th birthday. The fact that 2015 is the 170th and not the 197th anniversary of this merry traditional festival is easily explained: by order of King Karl, the Wasen was held only biennially from 1882 onwards, and this continued up to the king's death in 1891. This, along with the repercussions of the two World Wars, resulted in Stuttgart having to go without its festival for 28 years in all.

Festival opening times:
Monday to Thursday: 12 noon to 11pm
Friday and prior to public holidays: 12noon to midnight
Saturday: 11 am to midnight
Sunday and public holidays: 11 am to 11 pm

Total seats: 35.000
Festival tents: 7 beer tents, 2 wine tent, an Alpine Village

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