Planning to skip Oktoberfest for another beer festival? Check out this post for the top 10 German beer festivals in Germany other than Oktoberfest.
As someone who went to two different beer festivals this year, I have to say Oktoberfest was not my favorite. Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely understand the appeal of the event but just because something’s popular that doesn’t mean it’s the best. In fact, if you were to compare Oktoberfest to any other tourist trap, most people wouldn’t go since everyone wants to go there and it’s usually another way for the locals to take your money.
So, if you’re trying to skip Oktoberfest for another beer festival, you’ve come to the right place. This post alone highlights 10 alternative German Beer Festivals other than Oktoberfest that will give you the less-crowded, cultural experience you’re looking to have.
German Language & Culture Series
P.S. This is a post in my German Language & Culture series. Here is the complete series:
German Addresses: German Address Format: How to Mail a Letter to Germany
German Greetings: The 10 Most Common German Greetings and Introductions
German Numbers: The Ultimate Guide for Learning German Numbers 1 to 100
German Alphabet: The Best Alphabet Guide of All Time
German Days of the Week: A Beginner’s Guide to the Days of the Week in German
German Emails: The American Guide to Writing German Emails
German Body Parts: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Body Parts in German
German Vegetables: The Ultimate Guide to Vegetables in German
German Pronouns: The American Guide to Learning German Pronouns
German Colors: Colors in German: A One Stop Resource
German Fruits: Fruits in German: What You Need to Know
German TV: 10 German TV Shows You Need to Watch
German Curses: German Swear Words: What You Need to Know
German Idioms: 10 German Idioms Every American Should Know
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest, for those of you who don’t know, is the largest folk festival in Germany. Held in Munich every year, the festival attracts millions of visitors worldwide where people can drink beer and eat sausages in traditional Bavarian clothing. What many people however don’t know is that Oktoberfest is more than just a beer festival. It’s also a traveling carnival that comes with its own rides, food vendors, merchandise, and games. I, for one, did not know this when I went to Oktoberfest for the first time so that really took me by surprise.
As for when its held, the two-week long carnival takes place around late September to the beginning of October. So, if you’re looking for some specific dates, the ones below should be a good guideline:
Oktoberfest 2023: Saturday, September 16th – Tuesday, October 3rd (public holiday)
Oktoberfest 2024: Saturday, September 21st – Sunday October 6th
Oktoberfest 2025: Saturday, September 20th – Sunday October 5th
As an Au pair in Germany, I of course went around October 2nd since it’s the same day as my birthday and as a result I was able to get that day off and the next day off (public holiday) which was a plus.
Why is Oktoberfest overrated?
According to actual German citizens I had the pleasure of speaking to while I was still in America, Oktoberfest is apparently the most overrated thing you can ever do in Germany. These Germans had their reasons for saying what they said which are listed below:
The number one reason why these Germans thought Oktoberfest was so overrated is due to the fact that the beer festival is literally a tourist hotspot. So, like I mentioned before, because so many people from around the world visit the festival every year, it’s not the best place to go if you’re looking to avoid huge masses of people. In fact, based on my experience, this couldn’t be more true. I personally was warned about the masses of people there myself but I figured since I was going on a Monday I thought “how bad could it really be”. It wasn’t until I arrived at Oktoberfest for the first time that I realized…
It is as bad as they say….
So, if you’re looking for a reason to skip Oktoberfest, then this would be it.
Lots of Drunks
Another reason why those Germans believed Oktoberfest is so overrated is due to the fact that the beer festival is full of a lot of drunks. But I know what you’re thinking… of course Jade, it’s a beer festival. Yeah, I was thinking that too. But here’s the thing, after my experience at Oktoberfest, I realized being around masses of drunk people can get a little uncomfortable at times.
For example, I remember there was this one time I was in line to get on a ride at Oktoberfest and the guy in front of me reeked of beer which wasn’t really something I was used to back in the States. I mean… I know its a beer festival but I can’t imagine getting on a line in Six Flags behind a person who’s clearly intoxicated. That intoxicated person probably would not have even been allowed to go on the ride much less stand in it. So, if you’re trying to avoid as many drunks as possible than Oktoberfest is not for you.
A Vomit Hill
Lastly, another reason why those Germans were highly against Oktoberfest is due to the “vomit hill”or in other words the Oktoberfest Kotzhügel. If you’re not too familiar with what that is there’s basically a grassy hill right near a Bavarian statue in Oktoberfest where Oktoberfest visitors go to pass out when they’re drunk. In fact, the reason why it’s called the “vomit hill” is also because many people have been spotted physically puking on the hill after drinking so much. So, if you’re trying to avoid the catastrophe of the vomit hill, I highly recommend avoiding Oktoberfest.
Alternative German Beer Festivals
Here is a list of the top 10 beer festivals in Germany you can visit as an alternative to Oktoberfest! Some of the ones mentioned are in a different location in Germany, so if you’re not based in Munich, I would highly recommend checking out one that’s closest to you.
Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart (german beer festivals)
The Cannstatter Wasen is a great altenative beer festival to Oktoberfest! It’s held around the same time as the Oktoberfest in Munich but the festival is three weeks long. I for one had the opportunity to visit the Cannstatter Wasen while I was living near Stuttgart and I have to say I loved it 10 times better than the OG Oktoberfest. For one thing, it wasn’t as crowded as the Oktoberfest here in Munich and while I was attending it the vibe just seemed more family-friendly to bring your children to if they wanted to go.
So, if you’re looking for a less crowded alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich, I highly recommend the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart, the capital of Germany’s Baden-Wuerttemberg state.
Freimarkt, Bremen (german beer festivals)
The Freimarkt is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich! Held from mid-October to early November, the festival is known as one of Germany’s oldest funfairs. Some highlights of the festival include but are not limited to the big Ferris Wheel, the roller-coasters, and the multi-faceted culinary delights. So, in other words, think of fried dough, spicy licorice, and smoked eel. With all that in mind, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Schutzenfest, Hannover (german beer festivals)
The Schutzenfest is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich! Known for being the biggest shooting festival in the world, the Schutzenfest is the one place where visitors can expect to see a colorful assortment of shooting sports, fairground rides, and tasty delicacies.
In fact, this festival is even famous for its well-known tipple which is known locally as “Lüttje Lage” which is a mixed drink that’s common in the Hannover area. It’s made with Lüttje Lagen draft beer and Kornbrand and you can find this drink in plentiful supply at the lively party tents.
The Marksmen parade is also another highlight you should keep your eye on at the festival. Since it’s known for being one of the longest parades in Europe, it attracts thousands of spectators worldwide.
Bergkirchweih, Erlangen (german beer festivals)
The Bergkirchweih is another great alternative to the Oktoberfest in Munich! Held from late May to early June, the festival is much more quieter when you compare the atmosphere to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The festival itself is usually adorned with lanterns surrounded by old chestnut trees which attracts many people from young and old alike. So, if you’re looking to try a cold beer under an old, impressive chestnut tree, then the Bergkirchweih at Erlangen is the right festival for you!.
Hamburg DOM, Hamburg (german beer festivals)
The Hamburg Dom Festival is another great alternative to the Oktoberfest in Munich! Held at the Heiligengeistfeld fair ground in central Hamburg, the festival is held three times a year in the spring, summer, and winter. In fact, because of this well-known fact, the festival itself attracts more than 10 million visitors per year. So, if you’re looking for a beer festival you can go to more than once in a year, I highly recommend the Hamburg Dom Festival. It’s the biggest and longest fair throughout Germany which says a lot compared to Munich’s Oktoberfest.
Starkbierfest, Munich (german beer festivals)
The Starkbierfest is another great alternative to the Oktoberfest in Munich! Known as the “fifth season” to locals, this festival is the best time to celebrate Starkbierzeit (Strong Beer Time) which is a three-week frenzy of early-spring stout swigging. So, in other words, the festival is used to celebrate drinking large amounts of Munich’s “strong beer”. In fact, the strong beer that’s concocted at this festival is even made fresh to drink on each specific day. So, if you’re looking to try some strong and fresh beer outside of Oktoberfest in Munich, I highly recommend visiting Starkbierfest!
International Berlin Beer Festival, Berlin (german beer festivals)
The International Berlin Beer Festival is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich. Instead of focusing on traditional, local brews, this beer festival in Berlin focuses on the opposite by highlighting beers both locally and internationally. Held in early August, the International Berlin Beer Festival serves a variety of beer for you to taste in the hip Friedrichshain district. So, in other words, definitely expect to try beer from different countries to see how they differ in taste and alcohol. I for one was told American beer isn’t as strong as German beer so I’m sure there’s bound to be other beer you can taste besides the one from your home country.
Kulmbach Bierwoche, Kulmbach (german beer festivals)
Kulmbach Bierwoche is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich! Held in Bavaria’s Kulmbach, the Kulmbach Beer Week is a great festival to visit if you’re looking for a smaller alternative to Oktoberfest in Munch. Besides that, the festival also takes place in the summer in comparison to the fall like the OG festival. It even has hearty Franconian cuisine and local bands for you to check out too. So, if you’re looking to attend a beer lover’s paradise, the Kulmbach Beer Week is the right festival for you!
German-Swiss Oktoberfest, Lake Constance (german beer festivals)
The German-Swiss Oktoberfest is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich! Held around the same time, this beer festival offers more breathtaking views of its natural surroundings than the Oktoberfest in Munich does. Having only two beer tents, the festival stands out with its relaxed atmosphere, fairground rides, and tasty beers.
In addition, it also comprises a ladies-only area, a children’s Oktoberfest, and an international brass band competition. So, if you’re looking to try some tasty beer near the Bodensee, I highly recommend checking out the German-Swiss Oktoberfest!
Vienna Oktoberfest, Vienna (german beer festivals)
Lastly, the Vienna Oktoberfest (The Wiener Wiesn) is another great alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich. Held in Austria’s capital, Vienna, the Vienna Oktoberfest stands out with its Austrian beer, local food and traditional outfits. In fact, like Oktoberfest in Munich, the festival is held around the same time in the fall. The festival itself even has more than over 100 different artists perform at The Wiener Wiesn. So, if you’re looking to attend a beer festival with the some of the biggest names in the Austrian music scene, I highly recommend checking out The Wiener Wiesn!
Overall, I really hope you enjoyed this post on the top 10 German beer festivals you can visit other than Oktoberfest! Please let me know in the comments down below which beer festival you’d like to visit the most. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂