Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart, Germany
It’s all a bit of a blur, really. And I don’t think that’s just the alcohol talking.
I mean, it’s true, I have had about six or seven steins of beer by now. Oh, and not just any old steins – one litre steins.
So what does that make it?
Ummm… six or seven litres of beer, I guess. Yeah, that’s right. Isn’t it?
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Blurriness.
So have I told you about how it’s all a bit of a blur, really? You see, there’s just so much going on.
I’m in the middle of the second largest beer festival in the world – the Cannstatter Volksfest in the German city of Stuttgart.
It’s second only in size to that other big one. You know, the festival that happens in October. What’s it called? Oh yeah, Oktoberfest in Munich.
Sing, sing sing.
Where was I? Sorry, I got distracted by singing. I don’t really know the words (I guess they’re in German) so I just sing the words “sing, sing, sing”.
Or I do that trick where you just make the vowel sounds and move your lips a little bit like you could be saying any consonants… just in case someone takes the time to actually look at you while you’re singing.
But why would they do that? There are plenty of better things to look at.
Like that band! Oh my gosh, have you seen the band? Over there! Up on the stage!
So I’m in this huge tent. There are about five thousand people in here apparently – and this is just one of about six or seven tents.
The whole area is filled up with rows of tables. Rows upon rows. At first, I thought I was seeing double – how could these tables really stretch out for this far – but, no, that’s how it is.
People sit at the tables to eat their dinner earlier in the evening and then jump up on the benches to dance to this band on a stage in the middle of the tent. And they sing – so much singing.
The sound rises up from the crowds at the tables and fills the tent.
You don’t stand on the tables, though. That’s not allowed. I find out the hard way when I’m told off for deciding it would be a good stage to sing a song from.
Oh, and another thing! Wait, what was I going to tell you? Oh yeah, most people are dressed up in costume.
I’ve heard that the Munich Beer Festival is full of tourists these days and that you’re more likely to bump into a drunk Australian (god forbid!) than a local. But, here in Stuttgart, this festival really feels like it’s for the community and they’ve gone to a lot of effort to look the part.
All these check shirts are hurting my eyes a bit now, though.
Perhaps it’s not the beer that has brought on this blurriness. Perhaps it was the rides I went on earlier.
Have I told you about the rides? Perhaps not. I’ve told you about the blurriness, though, right?
So it’s called a ‘beer festival’ but in many ways the Cannstatter Volksfest is just as much festival as it is beer.
Outside of the big tents with their singing and dancing is an enormous fairground. There are hundreds of rides and sideshows – and I get the feeling a lot of local families come here for the day without even stepping foot inside a tent.
I get twirled around, spun around, bumped around… man, I got around. Ha ha… eh.
Everything is done on a big scale here. Big songs, big beers, big crowds.
When I finally decide my night is over and I make my way to the local train, I’ve got to navigate all the people spilling out from the different tents.
About 3.5 million people come here every year for the three weeks of the festival. To support all of this, they spend 3 months building this whole mini-city that I’m now trying to escape from.
It’s all been fun, though. I’m actually very impressed. With myself for not falling over, for starters. But with the whole experience, moreso.
There were no queues, no fights, no stupidity, no rip-offs. This is not like some festivals I’ve been to around the world (I’m looking at you, Australia!).
Everyone was jolly and everything was fun. Oh, and have I mentioned how everything was a bit blurry?
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN STUTTGART
You might find it convenient to get accommodation that’s walking distance from the main train station so you can easily explore the region.
If you’re looking for a budget option, the Youth Hostel Stuttgart International is one of Germany’s best.
For a basic but comfortable and cheap hotel, I would suggest Hotel Astoria.
A good modern hotel in Stuttgart that’s a great option is Jaz Stuttgart.
And I think the best luxury hotel in Stuttgart is the Le Meridien, which also has a perfect location.