Munich’s Oktoberfest is not only Bavaria’s biggest festival but it is by far and away the largest and most well known annual festival in Germany which attracts over six million visitors every year from near and far. We will have moved on and left Germany way before October and, if I’m honest, Oktoberfest is probably a bit too big for our liking. Whilst at Alpaca HQ, though, Georg and Silke (our hosts) took us to the opening evening of the Volksfest in nearby Straubing, the second largest festival in Bavaria behind Oktoberfest.
The Volksfest is a big deal in these here parts. Lots of businesses close down for the whole of the festival and many local people take the week off work so they can go to ‘Volksfest’ everyday. So, yes, a big deal for the local people. It’s open for ten days and practically everyone dresses in their traditional outfits to enjoy a good old knees up Bavarian style. We were definitely the odd ones out in our ‘normal’ clothes.
It kicked off on the Friday evening with the ‘Volsfestauszug’. Over 3000 participants, dressed up in over eighty different national costumes, paraded through the streets of Straubing with horse-drawn carriages, oxen, classic tractors and cars, dance and music groups.
After the parade everyone wandered down to the festival site set on the banks of the Danube for an evening of beer, fairground rides, beer, traditional Bavarian music, beer, traditional Bavarian food, beer, amusement activities, beer, singing, beer, storytelling, beer and, um, more beer.
We got talking to a German couple who told us that many people will spend at least a month’s wages at the volksfest every year. That’s not surprising as the beer was €9.30 per litre and the food is pretty expensive too but, as there is no entry fee for the volksfest, we were happy to pay it.
They also told us that the marquee that we were in was the ‘civilised’ one where the food was really good and the music was more traditional. Looking around most of the occupants were over 50+ so we were in good company.
Later we wandered around some of the other marquees which were definitely more rowdy but good fun and what we imagined a traditional Bavarian festival to be like.
So, if you are looking to experience a traditional Bavarian festival and something more low key than Oktoberfest then we can thoroughly recommend the Straubing Volksfest.
Bis zum nächsten mal.