You’ve probably heard of Oktoberfest, Munich’s (and now, much of the world’s) premier beer festival celebrated every autumn. It is a massive celebration that consists of traditional live music; beautiful spring decorations; partying in beer halls festival grounds, and campsites; and of course, consuming massive amounts of beer and german comfort food. But what if you go abroad in the Spring semester, and won’t be able to hit Oktoberfest?
Well, you’re in luck, because each Spring, Munich explodes with decoration and color and people of all ages and backgrounds dressed up and ready to party. You can think of Springfest as Oktoberfest’s wild little sister, with the same energy and set up but on a slightly smaller scale. Head to Munich in late April and May and you’ll get the same experience as Oktoberfest, just with a few small changes – most for the better. Read on to discover all the reasons Springfest is one of Europe’s most underrated festivals.
Party in the same traditional grounds & beer halls as Oktoberfest
Known locally as Frühlingsfest, Springfest takes place on “the Wiesn,” the famous open grounds where the city regularly hosts festivals (including Oktoberfest). For Springfest, the city builds two massive tents. Festhalle Bayernland is the festival’s oldest tent and serves local favorite beer, Augustiner. The other beer hall, the Hippodrome, is famous for delicious food and a fun, party atmosphere day and night. There is nothing quite like the first step you take into one of Munich’s massive beer halls. From the traditional decorations covering the tent to the lively music blasting, you’ll feel transported back in time and ready for an amazing experience.
Play dress-up with your friends (and 1000s of soon-to-be-friends)
One of the most fun parts of Munich’s beer festivals is the opportunity to dress up in the traditional costume. Take your pick between a Dirndl and a pair of Lederhosen, both of which you can find in a variety of Spring colors. Seeing a sea of people all dressed up in traditional drinking garb is a surefire way to spark your excitement.
Have a more authentic experience & meet friendly locals
In the fall, Oktoberfest quite literally takes over the city, which means that any exhausted locals you come across during the famous festival will likely not give you the time of day (can you blame them?). Springfest, however, is a whole different ball game. This is the festival locals love, so expect to see entire families partying until the break of dawn, perfectly blending in with the young adults and university students who make the festival their home each year.
Feast on traditional street food – and lots of it
One of my personal favorite things about Springfest is the food. Prepare yourself for the world’s best drinking food: it’s warm, filling, and utterly delicious. Think comfort food taken to the next level. Stop by the food vendors on the festival grounds or order at the beer halls, and you can expect such Bavarian deliciousness as wiener schnitzel, spaetzle, steaming bratwurst, perfectly soft pretzels, and the best roast chicken you’ll ever have. And that’s just scratching the surface. Come hungry.
Less belligerent tourists to deal with
The hardest drinkers save their travel days for Oktoberfest, which means Springfest is often slightly tamer, safer, and cleaner. The smaller crowd is actually a massive plus, as it creates an intimacy and authenticity you simply cannot get at Oktoberfest. Think of it this way: where Oktoberfest turns the volume up to an eardrum-blasting 11, Springfest keeps things at a healthy yet enjoyable 8.5. You can still expect a wild time, you’ll just see less people keeled over in the streets afterwards.
Explore Munich in the Spring
The energy on the festival grounds is addictive: the nonstop music, jovial atmosphere, flashy rides and vendors, and of course, the endless river of top-notch Munich ale. But there’s actually much more to do in the city during Springfest. Late-April is the perfect time to go to Munich, as the weather is mild, flowers are in bloom and the expensive tourist season hasn’t begun yet. Take a break from sipping steins to visit iconic Munich spots like the Marienplatz central square, picnic in the lush English Gardens, or tour the opulent Munich Residenz.
Legendary Pre- and After Parties
If you’ve been to Oktoberfest or Springfest, you’ve likely experienced the massive, all-night campsite parties that take place after the festival. The largest of these (and the largest celebration outside of the festival itself) is the legendary celebration at Stoke campgrounds. Once revelers are ready to move on from the beer halls, they head to the campgrounds, where the party keeps going with live bands and DJs, drinking games (do you dare spin the wheel of misfortune?), food trucks, and even surprise performers like fire dancers. Some seasoned festival goers have grown to actually prefer the after parties to the beer halls – or, at the very least, consider them an integral part of a Springfest or Oktoberfest experience.
So, are you ready for Springfest? Join us the weekend of April 22-24 and experience Springfest like a pro!