CONTRIBUTED BY MERIL CHICKINI
I’m sure if you have been in Germany long enough you have noticed that Germans love to celebrate. No matter if it’s Advent with the Christmas markets, Volksfests, medieval fests, loud and colorful Fasching, or wine/beer festivals (we have all heard about Oktoberfest even before landing in Germany) there’s always something going on! Germans know how to have good time!
No matter what the name or celebration they all have a few things in common: beer, good food and rides. Almost every Volksfest we have been to has line dancing as well. Germans just seem to love it.
Volksfests usually take place from spring to summer and the size will depend on the city. Even the smaller ones will have at least couple a rides, several food and beer stands. Bigger ones last from a week to two while smaller might only last a couple days the most. One wonderful thing about any fest is that they are open on Sundays as well. Another thing to add to your “what to do on a Sunday when everything is closed” list. Not one spring or summer weekend passes in Germany without a Volksfest in some town or city. They are always lots of fun and kids love the rides while parents can snack on the delicious treats.
Since we have small kids we always try to beat the crowds and go early. It also helps with parking. If the fest is taking place outside the city center there’s usually parking that is either cheap or free. If it’s in the city center we usually try to find a shopping center or parking garage close by. Always make sure to have euro coins, either for parking or for the rides (1-3 euros usually). Volksfest entrance is always free, but you pay separately for all the rides. You can always bring a stroller (we’ve never had any issues, even with a big double stroller) and dogs are welcome too.
Grafenwoehr’s German-American Volksfest
One of the biggest Volksfests in the Grafenwoehr/Vilseck area is the American - German Volksfest that usually takes place in August and lasts for 3 days over a weekend. It will have many rides, tons of food and beer and alcohol stands. Even though it takes place on-post at Grafenwoehr, it will be open for everybody with bussing from both on and off-post. I recommend parking at the Exchange and taking the bus from there.
Usually the crowd changes a lot after duty hours are over so if you have smaller kids I would try to leave before 7-8pm. If you stay until the end, be ready to wait for the busses because everybody will be leaving at the same time. Last summer the Volksfest ended at 11pm and the last busses left around 2am.
Medieval fests usually take place in castles (e.g. Castle Guteneck) or in bigger cities (e.g. Regensburg) during the summer. There’s usually a small entrance fee. Everybody part of the medieval fest, no matter if they are selling crepes or organizing the rides or selling tickets, will be dressed up. The area will be decorated accordingly as well. The same goes for the rides and even for some of the food.
Don’t expect the big colorful carousels you see during the Volksfests, but be ready for wooden small carousels and horse rides or medieval games like archery, throwing “eggs”, etc. There will be plenty of food and beer stands. If you have kids or you don’t drink alcohol I would just in case grab a soda or water before going because finding soft drinks might be difficult. Near-by parking is usually organized for which you might have to pay a small fee.
Usually you will see big signs for any on going fests by the side of the road or in the city and your local military publications will have the dates. Have fun and don’t miss out on another way to experience Germany!