If there is one thing that I have learned while living in Germany, it is that the Germans really know how to throw a party!! Every season here seems to offer a festival or five and with the coming of Spring in the Baden-Württemberg region, we usher in Frühlingsfest season. This festival, held in Stuttgart, attracts approximately 1.5 million visitors annually, making it the largest and most well attended spring festival in Europe!
What is Frühlingsfest?
Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) is a three-week long festival beginning in mid-April and running through the first week of May. The festival itself, kicks off on a Saturday (April 16th this year in Stuttgart). It all begins with the mayor tapping the beer keg in a ceremony held at noon inside of the Zum Wasenwirt tent at the Cannstatter Wasen (Bad Cannstatt fairgrounds). Then, the fun really begins! Food vendors, entertainers, craftsmen, carnival rides, and of course, plenty of beer and food abound. There is a little something for everyone!
What does it cost?
Entrance into the fest grounds is kostenlos (free)! Of course, you must pay for food, carnival rides and reserved tables in the fest tents. The carnival rides can get a little pricey but if you can deal with the crowds, every Wednesday is Family Day with reduced ride pricing all day long. Family days also offer surprises: like face painting, entertainment and food specials for younger visitors.
Fest Zelt: Inside the beer tents
I have organized the last three fest nights for my neighborhood. In the time that I have been attending and organizing, the method for obtaining tickets to the Fest tents has changed. Each tent has its own policy, which can be found by visiting your favorite tent’s website directly. (Links to the tent websites can be found on www.stuttgarter-fruelingsfest.com.
Usually the tents accept the VAT (Value Added Tax form) and take payment by direct bank transfer. Your admission price usually provides: a Tisch Reservierung (table reservation), beer tokens, and a food Gutschein (gift card/ticket)-that is good for a dinner of a half chicken and Brot (bread). Beer is served in one liter mugs called a Maß. Be aware that German beer is fairly strong and those liters go fast so take care! Most tents that I have been in allow a one-to-one trade on items from their menu. For example, if you don’t like beer, you can trade your beer token in for any other drink item on the menu. If the price of the ordered drink item is more than your token is worth, you just pay the difference. On the flip side, if the price of the drink you order is less than the value of your token, you do not receive change. Don’t worry if you don’t get to use all of your drink tokens in one evening. They are valid (in the tent of issue) for the duration of Fest.
All tents have a live band that will play music for your entertainment. Each band has a large set list of local hits and songs you may recognize from radio play and decades past (Hits from the 80’s are quite popular!). One song that will undoubtedly be ingrained in your memory by the end of the night is “Ein Prosit.” It is a staple in every tent and it is easy to memorize. To help you out, I have included the words at the end of this article! Memorize it if you can and remember to toast at the conclusion of the song!
I spoke with Melanie Baer of the Grandls Fest Zelt and she had this advice to give to those interested in attending Frühlingsfest alone or with a group!
When is the best time to order tickets for Spring Fest?
During the Spring Fest one year in advance.
Is entrance into the Grandls tent free at anytime?
If you want to reserve a seat you have to buy a minimum purchase of beer and chicken tokens. The value of the tokens also can be used to order any other food or drink from our menu. If you don’t need a reserved table you can stop by without any cost.
What is the best way to order tickets for fest?
Visit our website http://grandls-hofbraeuzelt.de/en there is an online reservation formulary, or simply fill out the reservation card lying on your table inside of our tent one year ahead.
*For admission to other tents, see the tent’s website directly.
Must tickets be ordered in groups of 10?
In the Grandls tent, in the middle section you can make reservations in increments of 5 – in the side boxes, only complete tables (8, 10, 12 or 15 persons – depending on the side box) can be booked.
How do we obtain our tickets once the bill is paid in full?
I can only speak for our tent – we deliver with UPS.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know about Spring Fest?
You should visit our website http://grandls-hofbraeuzelt.de/en to get your own impression – we have a huge gallery of videos and photos that are fun to watch.
What do I wear?
The traditional fest wear is a Dirndl for the ladies and Lederhosen for the men. It is recommended but not required to dress in the traditional outfits. There are plenty of places to shop in the local area, if you are interested in taking part in the fest like a local! If you don’t want to invest that is okay as well, all you really need is a checkered shirt, some jeans and some shoes (that you don’t really care about) and you are dressed for Fest!
Where to buy Fest Wear:
Krueger (There are several locations in the Stuttgart area)
Dirndl.com (online only)
www.bookoo.com and similar websites will allow you to buy used options, perhaps at a lower cost. A quick online search of “dirndls and lederhosen for sale” will yield plenty of options!
What should I take in to the tents?
The true answer here is: as little as possible. If the tent is crowded, and it will be if it is a weekend night or holiday evening, the tents get very warm inside, but walking to and from the train or around the fairgrounds can be chilly. So, I advise you to wear a light jacket or sweater to help fight the cold. Also, you will want a plastic grocery bag to hold all of your belongings. You can put your items in the bag and tie it under the table for safekeeping. In addition, you will want to bring an ID, and euro change. The euro change will serve as a Bedienungsgeld (service charge) for your servers when they bring you food and drinks. The recommended amount varies slightly by tent, but a good rule of thumb is 80 euro cent for each item delivered. It is also advisable to tip the bathroom attendants. They usually ask for 50 euro cent per trip to the WC.
How do I get there?
The parking is limited. So, taking public transportation is recommended. Below is a listing of local transportation that will get you to the Cannstatter Wasen.
With the U-bahn:
|Canstatter Wasen||U11 (special for the weekends)|
|Haltstelle Bad Cannstatt/Wilhelmsplatz||U1, U2, U13|
|Mercedesstrasse||U1, U2, U11 (special for the weekends)|
With the S-bahn:
Take the S1, S2, or S3 or the R1, R2, R3 or R8 to the Bad Cannstatt station. Signs will be present and the Cannstatter Wasen will be about a 10-minute walk.
Words to Ein Prosit:
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit;
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit;
Special Events at the Fest:
April 16, 2016—Opening ceremony at the Zum Wasenwirt
April 23, 2016–Ballonwettfahr: (Hot-air balloon races) begins at 2:30 in the afternoon
Further information can be found at www.ballonsportgruppe-stuttgart.de.
May 8, 2016—Music & Fireworks. Show begins at 9:30 pm on closing night and will last for about 15 minutes.
Event dates and times may change. So, it is best to check the website: www.stuttgarter-fruehlinsgest.de before heading out.
Dates and Hours:
April 16- May 8 2016
Montag bis Donnerstag (Monday-Thursday): 12:00 until 11:00 pm
Freitag und vor Feiertagen (Friday and day before a holiday): 12:00-midnight
Samstag (Saturday): 11:00 until midnight
Sonntag und am Feiertagen (Sunday and holidays): 11:00 am-11:00 pm
For more information:
If you have never been to Fest before, you are in for a treat! The entire fest, although crowded most days, gives off an aura of Gemütlichkeit (coziness) and the sight of so many people dressed in traditional German fest gear is a sight to behold. It is definitely worth it to visit the Cannstatter Wasen during springtime! Enjoy and Prost!
Editors note: Even if you do not have a table reservation, the beer tents are a lot of fun. Go on in, buy a beer from a server and start to mingle. Before long you will probably find yourself standing on a bench, drinking, dancing, and singing along with everyone else. Just be aware that if you occupy an empty table you may be asked to move when the reserved party arrives.