I seriously took a lot of photos. Close to 1000 possibly. I’ve scratched two thirds of them, and have uploaded about 100 to Google Drive.
The Canstatter Volksfest which takes place in Stuttgart every year is like a mini-Oktoberfest. I say mini in that it’s about half the size, receiving about 3 million visitors a year compared to Munich’s 6+. But it’s a very similar setup. Carnival type atmosphere with roller coasters, games and stalls. Just with the addition of the massive beer tents.
Much like in Munich, the tents are open to the public all day until 16:00, when people with reserved tables are permitted in. In Munich we were part of the public, whereas in Stuttgart we had reserved tables. Baldur Veit, the Director of the International Office at Reutlingen University had organised with one of the big breweries for semi-sponsored tickets and reserved places on the last day of the event.
Last year there were 1500 students that attended the event, I don’t know the stats this year, but the 2000 tickets made available were sold out, some people bought more than one ticket, and also invited friends form outside the university. This year we had place in the Fürstenberg tent which holds about 2800 people.
We arrived at about 15:00 at the festival and walked around a bit before entering the tent and trading in our coupons. The setup was very similar to the tent in Munich with rows and rows of benches and tables spread out around a central stage. One difference only getting to the tent at 16:00 meant that we had live music being played almost throughout the night, till we left shortly before 22:00. This was opposite to our relatively quiet morning experience in Munich. Security also didn’t seem to have too much of an issue with people standing on benches, as the entire crowd spent most of the evening. The only acceptable reason to do this in Munich was when you were going to down your maß.
The festivals are very similar. It’s difficult to say whether one is better than the other. There are definitely more people in Munich, this could be felt just walking through the grounds. For most of us, Stuttgart was a more enjoyable experience. We only had a 1 hour train trip there and back, and the tent was filled with like minded students. I’d like to experience a reserved place in Munich one day, but if you only get the opportunity to go to one of the festivals, I wouldn’t say you’re missing out on much.
I preferred the Augustinebrau beer to Furstenburg’s, on the other hand it’s only 9 Euro for a Maß in Stuttgart as opposed to 10 in Munich, and the half chickens we got in Stuttgart also came with a breadroll, something that was lacking in Munich.
It’s difficult to know what else to say. The live music (Joe William’s Band) and hordes of students definitely made the event more enjoyable for us. As we waited at the train station some fireworks lit up the sky. We got home on time and even managed to catch the last bus home. Something we’ve struggled to do in two previous trips.
Next week Saturday the local Erasmus organisation has organised a trip for us to Sigmaringen so I’ll probably spend the day there.