Folk Festival Fun in Germany:
DZT - Munich’s Oktoberfest, the Cannstatt Wasen and other festivities
The peppy sound of brass bands circulates through the lanes of the Old Town, tempting scents of Bratwurst and toasted almonds waft in the air and the visitors have just one destination: the folk festival.
Whether in the heart of the city, in a park or out on the green meadows, everywhere the mood is for celebration. Festival tents offer space for thousands of visitors and the rides draw them with the latest attractions.
Whether in a city or in the provinces, folk festivals have tradition. The Germans love their festivals and they know how to celebrate. Lovely squares and parks, medieval villages, fortress ruins and castles provide a stylish backdrop and romantic flair for the bustle. Anyone who experiences such a festival once will always love to join the celebrations.
Wiesn history for Munich’s Oktoberfest
The Munich Oktoberfest – known as the world’s largest folk festival – is world famous. It’s that time again on Sept. 22, when the cry "Ozapft is" (The Keg is Tapped) marks the official opening by the mayor. Traditionally the first keg of festival beer is tapped at high noon.
For 16 days, until Oct. 7, it draws the Munich folk and with them hundreds of thousands of guests from all over the world to the "Wiesn," the festival grounds at the foot of the Bavaria statue.
Oktoberfest originated in 1810. The idea came from the upper-class citizens who wanted to celebrate the marriage on Oct. 12 of Crown Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I – and Princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen.
A horse race on the meadow at the gates of the city marked the conclusion of the wedding celebrations – it was already called a "Folk Festival."
Children in Bavarian folk dress paid tribute to the attending royal family with stories, flowers and fruits from the countryside. The festival grounds were christened "Therese’s Meadow" in honor of the bride, and that is still the name of the Oktoberfest grounds today. In Munich dialect, it is shortened to "The Wiesn."
The decision to repeat the appealing horse race the following year at the same time was the beginning of the "Oktober Feste" tradition.
Information: Fremdenverkehrsamt, Tel. 089-23330211. Fax 23330269. Internet: www. muenchen-tourist.de
Cannstatt Wasen – traditional Stuttgart folk festival
For 16 days everything revolves around the 79-foot-tall Fruit Column, the trademark of the Cannstatt Folk Festival that began in 1818 as a thanksgiving festival. It is now considered one of the largest and most beautiful in the world.
"Auf, zum Wasen" (Let’s go to the Wasen) will be the cry this year from Sept. 22 until Oct. 7. Millions of visitors enjoy the unusual fun, like a ride on the largest transportable Ferris Wheel in the world or through the racing wild-water slide and always-new attractions.
A favorite is the traditional Folk Festival Parade on Sunday, Sept. 23, starting at 11 a.m. in the centre of Cannstatt and going to the festival grounds, led by lavishly decorated brewery wagons and costume groups.
Information, also about packages: Stuttgart-Marketing, Tel. 0711-2228246. Fax 2228251. Internet: www. cannstatter-volksfest.de
966 years of Bremen Freimarkt
Bremen is famous for the oldest folk festival in Germany. Since Emperor Konrad II awarded the Bremen archbishop an annual market on Oct. 16, 1035, the Hanseatic city has celebrated its "Freimarkt" annually.
This year, too, Bremen expects around four million visitors between Oct. 19 and Nov. 4. For 17 days there’s a folk festival without closing hours on the meadow beside the Central Railway Station and on the City Hall Square. And when on Oct. 27 the glittering parade with 120 decorated floats winds through the centre of town, enthusiastic crowds will line the streets.
Information, also about packages: Bremer Touristik Zentrale, Tel. 01805-101030. Fax 0421-3080030. Internet: www. bremen-tourism.de
Dresden celebrates with 500,000 guests
Even during the lifetime of August the Strong, the Saxons knew how to celebrate – the prince elector dug deep in his pockets for that purpose. The Augustinian events had gigantic dimensions and the people enjoyed themselves just as much. It hasn’t changed into the present.
Some 500,000 visitors are expected this year for the City Festival Aug. 17-19. A variety of themes will set the scene for a motley city party. A special event will be the appearance of the world-famous Dresden Kreuzchor at the Classical Open Air.
Other highlights will include medieval history on the Castle Square and a princes’ parade, the "Western Garden" on the Elbe, a steam-ship festival and the "Glass Government Quarter" when the state chancellery and seven ministries open their doors on Aug. 18.
Information: Dresden Werbung und Tourismus, Tel. 0351-49192120. Fax 49192116. Internet: www. dresden-tourist.de
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