Bergkirchweih

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The Bergkirchweih is an annual fair and beer festival in Erlangen, Germany. Locals nickname it Berch, which is the Franconian pronunciation of the German word Berg, meaning mountain or hill.

The Bergkirchweih starts on the Thursday before Pentecost at 5PM. The opening ceremony called "Anstich", which is carried out by the town's mayor, takes place in a different beer cellar every year. Thousands gather to watch the opening spectacle hoping to get one of the free beers from the first barrel. Twelve days later the last beer barrel is buried in the cellar where the next Anstich will take place. The Bergkirchweih area is located in the northern extremities of the town of Erlangen and is roughly a kilometer long (0.6 mi). It contains beer cellars, booths and rides - a huge Ferris wheel is the Berch's traditional landmark.

With its wooden benches under elms, chestnuts and oaks it is one of the biggest Open-Air-Biergarten of Europe with more than 11,000 seats.

The Bergkirchweih has taken place since 1755. Nowadays the time when the fair takes place is called the "fifth season". Roughly a million people - about ten times the town's population - visit the event, making the Bergkirchweih the third biggest fair in Bavaria after the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing.

Traditions concerning Bergkirchweih[edit]

A common tradition during Berg is the so-called Kastenlauf (crate walk). In this one buys a crate of beer (20 bottles each 1/2 litre) and walks to the Berg. At the end of the walk the crate must be empty. This correlates to the tradition of "vorglühen" (a certain consumption of alcoholic beverages before the actual partying).

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Coordinates: 49°36′27″N 11°00′18″E / 49.60750°N 11.00500°E / 49.60750; 11.00500