Anyone who thinks of Munich first thinks of the Oktoberfest. But any newcomer to Munich will quickly discover that this mother of all festivals is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to events. The Frühlingsfest, Film Festival, Sommerfest, Blade Nights, Tollwood, countless street festivals and lots more all merge seamlessly into one another. It’s best not to exhaust yourself trying them all – first have a careful look at exactly what’s on offer.
Well worth checking out is Tollwood, an “alternative” festival that takes place twice a year and is growing increasingly popular. There’s also plenty for cinema fans to feast their eyes on at Munich’s International Film Festival every year at the end of June, and at a host of open-air cinema nights. Then, laden with blankets and picnic baskets, crowds flock to the romantic Seebühne (lake stage) in the Westpark or open air cinema at the historic Königsplatz in July.
Events in the City
The annual summer festival in Olympiapark is a must-see for every citizen of Bavaria´s capital. In the colorful camp there´s something for everyone. From end of June to July you can enjoy extraordinary theater performances, concerts, stand-up comedy and art or simply stroll across the Market of Ideas and try food from all over the world. International music stars will perform at the Musik-Arena. On 26 evenings in total you can visit concerts there.
The music styles range from rock and pop to jazz, hiphop, ska, reggae and metal. You can also listen to lots of live music for free: At the Karibik-Bar (Caribbean Bar), the S-Club, the Andechser-Zelt (Tent Ancechs) or the SZ Zelt (Tent SZ) bands and DJs entertain the audience every day. More international performances and award winning artists are waiting outdoors.
Medieval spectacle near Munich
Every year in July you can travel back in time to the Middle Ages in Kaltenberg, west of Munich. Since 1979 Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, great grandson of the last Bavarian king, has been inviting you to the world’s biggest jousting tournament. During ten days of events, acrobats, itinerant entertainers, craftsmen, actors, quack doctors and village idiots inhabit Kaltenberg Castle. There is a huge medieval market with many attractions, live music and performances to entertain the visitors, in a magical atmosphere. A highlight of the festival is the great procession of the 800 performers across the grounds, including flag-wielding, marching bands and musicians.
Strong beer fever in Munich
The hustle and bustle of Fasching (carnival time) has hardly come to an end when Lent arrives. During Lent, Munich’s big breweries serve tasty strong beer. This annual Starkbierfest (strong beer festival) is celebrated, similar to the Oktoberfest, with traditional costume accompanied by brass band music, dancing on tables, folksy drinking and by the high society from Munich and surroundings. Unlike the Oktoberfest, the Starkbierfest doesn't have fairground rides, cotton candy, roasted almonds and shooting galleries -- instead satirizing politicians and musical comedy are on the program.
“Derbleck’n,” the traditional cabaret show at the Starkbierfest in the Paulaner brewery on Nockherberg, is a Bavarian expression that means to mimic prominent people and give them a piece of one's mind. It derives from the word "Blecken," which signifies to bare one's teeth. This Nockherberg show has been taking place since 1891 and in the 1950s the tradition of political satire started. A well-known Munich actor dressed as Brother Barnabas reads the riot act to the politicians and celebrities that are present in a Lenten speech. No misstep by them will be left out. This year, a woman will act as the Lenten preacher for the first time. In 2010, Luise Kinseher took part at the musical comedy, during which actors mime prominent people from regional and federal politics, and this time she will also be the Bavaria. Every year the spectacular show is broadcast live on TV. But you can only attend if the Paulaner brewery invites you personally.
Six million litres of beer are drunk, 530,000 chickens and 117 oxen are eaten, there are 4,500 lost property and six million visitors. These staggering statistics best describe the world-famous Oktoberfest (Munich people shortly call it "Wiesn"), the biggest public festival in the world taking place from end of September on Theresienwiese.
The Oktoberfest started off as a horse race to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and his bride Therese Charlotte Luise in 1810. Now Germans, English, Australians, Japanese, Italians and many other nationalities make annual pilgrimages to this beer-drinking party.