The ‘land of liquid gold,’ ‘the world’s most livable city’ and a place whose motto literally says ‘we like you’… I’m talking about the German city of Munich, where Springfest is held each year. If there is one thing the people of Munich enjoy, it’s having a bash and rarely do they need a reason to hold one. These include festivals to celebrate each season with as many possible in between. Typically, these festivals include drinking and enjoying some of the best beer in the world. Fruhlingfest, AKA Springfest, is just around the corner. In fact, this will be the 40th annual Springfest and will be held on the famous Theresienwiese, home to Oktoberfest.
Top 3 Things to Do at Munich’s Springfest
- Take a tour of the city–Frankie’s Bike Tours does a great job at showing you the city of Munich from the comfort of their beach cruising bikes.
- Do a day trip to Dachau concentration camp. It may not exactly inspire a lot of laughs, but it will definitely become a historical highlight of your weekend in Munich.
- Make friends with foreigners in the beer tents. Buy a stein of beer in the Augustiner tent and prost (cheers) your neighbors! Pretty soon you’ll all be dancing on top of your tables, singing songs and enjoying the party.
If you think you are missing out because you won’t be attending Oktoberfest, think again. Springfest is almost exactly like Oktoberfest, but on a smaller scale. I enjoyed the less crowded atmosphere because I could focus my attention on more important things such as enjoying the traditions and fine beverages of the Bavarian culture (also known as drinking a LOT of beer), as opposed to worrying about my surroundings. The festival itself has two enormous tents, each of which can hold over 6,000 people– as well as an amusement park, live music, fireworks, roasted almonds, pretzels, wiener schnitzels, and many more Bavarian delicacies.
One of the highlights of the trip is a “can’t miss” – Frankie’s Bike Tour of Munich. Spending the afternoon on a bike made me feel like a kid again as I whipped around the City and took in the sights. Best parts of the tour: the Rathaus-Glockenspiel which you will learn about on the tour, followed by the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl which is arguably the most famous beer hall worldwide. You only stop here briefly but there was plenty of time for us to go back later on in the day. The stop for lunch in the Chinese Pagoda Beer Garden, which happens to be the second largest in Munich and can hold over 6,500 people, was one of my favorite parts of the bike tour.
Beer gardens are Munich’s outdoor living rooms. People come to relax and enjoy Gemϋtlichkeit, which means getting cozy and friendly with others. Lunch is very reasonable: roughly €15 including a large beer. Lastly, one of the stops included a small river to witness one of Munich’s most surprising spring/summertime attractions: riversurfing. Here’s how it works: the river flows with great force from under a low bridge. Because of the shallowness of the river, the riverbed creates a metre-high (3.28 ft.) artificial wave, which some of us have seen recreated at popular surfing destinations. The day I went, there were queues of patient surfers awaiting their turn to have a go at this rather dangerous sport.
Another highlight of my trip was the visit to Dachau Concentration camp, which I remember vividly. The weather coincidently fit the mood: overcast, a bit gloomy, sun peaking through clouds only for a few minutes at the time, etc. I highly recommend including this in your plans. Public transport costs around €4, entry is free, and audio guides are available for €2.50 with your student ID. It was truly remarkable to see but it can take its toll on you. I stopped taking photos towards the end of the afternoon because I felt guilty and also as a sign of respect.
On a more positive note, we spent our nights down at the Springfest festival grounds. I would try and describe 6,000 people singing dancing and drinking to live music atop picnic benches, but unless you have been to some sort of festival on a similar magnitude, you must see it for yourself. The partying goes on into the late hours of the evening. Many of us also attended the rides and attractions on the grounds, which can give you a bit of a head rush if you have been drinking all day so be careful since you won’t want those pretzels, beer, and wiener schnitzels coming back up later.
All-in-all, this truly is an experience you do not want to miss. Even if you are not a big beer drinker, there are plenty of other things for you to enjoy at Munich’s Springfest.