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A Volksfest ("peoples' festival" in German) is a large event in Germany which usually combines a beer festival or wine festival and a traveling carnival (or funfair). Attractions may include amusement rides, games of chance and skill, and food and merchandise vendors.
When there is a beer festival, it is common to build one or more beer tents (Festzelte), usually sponsored by a brewery, and set up beer gardens where it is possible to order traditional food and try the Festbier, or beer specially brewed for the season. A large beer tent will have hundreds of wooden benches with a seating capacity in the thousands and offer live music, being a favourite place for patrons to spend the evening. The well known Oktoberfest is a big Volksfest that occurs yearly in Munich.
Admission to a Volksfest and the beer tents is free however you have to pay for each ride or game separately. In contrast to travelling carnivals in the USA, each ride in a Volksfest is independently run so tickets for several rides are uncommon. Inside the beer tents there are usually tables that can be reserved, while the rest are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Duration and location
There is at least one Volksfest in many of the larger towns in Germany every year, each lasting from one to three weeks. In some towns there are two or more per year. A Volkfest is local in nature, attended mostly by people original from the hosting town and surrounding areas, but it may also attract international tourists. Sindelfingen is the only town to have given up its Volksfest.
A Volksfest takes place nearly at the same date every year. A number of these have a long tradition and feature a variety of events like parades in historical costumes or traditional shooting competitions. One of the oldest Volksfests in Germany is the Lullusfest in Bad Herfeld. A Volksfest usually takes place in a special location. Some of these sites are well known such as the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart and Theresienwiese in Munich; however there are some Volksfest events which take place partly in the streets of towns.
As the Volkfest is temporary in nature, most mechanical attractions, games and beer tents are assembled in the weeks or months prior to the start of the festival, and dismantled once it is over.
Well known Volksfests
- Bad Kreuznacher Jahrmarkt in Bad Kreuznach
- Barthelmarkt in Oberstimm near Ingolstadt
- Baumblütenfest in Werder
- Bergkirchweih in Erlangen
- Biberacher Schützenfest in Biberach an der Riss
- Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart - the largest Volksfest in the world
- Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing
- Hamburger Dom in Hamburg
- Kiel Week in Kiel
- Kinderzeche in Dinkelsbühl
- Kramermarkt in Oldenburg
- Oktoberfest, Munich - The largest beer festival in the world
- Oktoberfest Hannover - The second largest beer festival in the world
- Rutenfest in Ravensburg
- Schützenfest in Hanover - the largest rifle club funfair in the world
- Wurstmarkt, Bad Dürkheim