Frühlingsfest – the Munich Spring Festival

One of the planned highlights for my trip to Munich would be the Frühlingsfest, the Spring Festival. Held in cities throughout Germany, Spring Festivals are a way for the Germans to shake away the cold winter and embrace the warm, sunny weather. And drink beer, of course.

the menu at the hippodrom

I met an American girl on my walking tour and we headed on a reasonably short walk towards the Theresienwise, a large grassy expanse which is home to Oktoberfest in the Fall and the Frühlingsfest in the Spring. This was the site of the wedding between Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hidburghausen (yes, I did have to double check that spelling) in 1810… and Oktoberfest has been held every year to celebrate the occasion. And to drink a lot of beer. This is a pattern in Bavaria.

beer tent decor

Virginia, the guide from the walking tour, told us that Australians seemed to be the most enthusiastic Oktoberfest visitors, saving their money for years and descending en masse to the hostels, campgrounds and fields of Munich to partake in the greatest of beer drinking traditions. This, of course, translates into trouble for the poor Australians as they drink litres of beer and generally embrace the Bavarian party lifestyle to the point where they regularly lose their passports. The closest Australian embassy or consulate is actually in Berlin – a long, expensive train ride away – therefore, for the duration of Oktoberfest, Australian diplomatic officials set up a temporary office in the British consulate in order to help their hungover countrymen navigate the passport reapplication process. One interesting tidbit from the walking tour, which I can’t substantiate on Google, is that a group of Bavarian girls have made it their mission to liberate as many Australian passports from their owners as possible with the winner being awarded a big keg of beer to share with her friends.

I found it interesting that Virginia also included a disclaimer, issued specifically to the Americans, warning them that German beer is much stronger than the Budweiser they’re used to drinking at home and that they should know their limits before engaging in any beer related shenanigans.

beer carousel!

Frühlingsfest was much more tame, but it was still bustling. The fairgrounds were full of families, snacking on German fair food (think giant hot dogs, sausages, pretzels, fish on a stick) and paying a rather exorbitant €3 or €3.50 per ride. I thought we had it bad at the Quinte Exhibition… although, to be fair, there was a beer carousel where for only €3.50 you could have a bottle of beer and slowly rotate.  I suppose that’s the same as a ride, right?

There are only three tents at the Spring Festival, as compared to upwards of 17 at the Oktoberfest. I have trouble imagining quite that many drunk people (they serve litres of beer – any more than one and you will definitely be feeling it) in one concentrated area. The three tents were all busy, with the Augustiner tent seemingly the most packed. Apparently Augustiner is the local favourite and where this is more of a locals festival, it only makes sense that it would be the hardest to find a seat.

Seating is communal, so you could end up sharing a table with a family – yes, people do bring their kids to beer tents – other travellers or locals out for a good time. The servers were dressed in traditional lederhosen (for the men) and dirndls (for the women), however many of the patrons were showing their Bavarian spirit in a similar attire. I know that during Oktoberfest they sell or rent the costumes to visitors and that showing up without traditional dress is like “going to a Hallowe’en party without a costume”, but I was glad to see that this wasn’t really the case for the Frühlingsfest.

outside of the hippodrom

We ended up choosing the Hippodrom tent which had a) plenty of empty seats and b) an enthusiastic cover band. Point A was the most important as you need to be in a seat in order to be served a beer in the tents. This rule also exists at Oktoberfest so I am assuming it is a way of keeping things under control.

The beer was – well, it was pricy. The menu price was €8.60 but she asked for €10 and that was what everyone else around us seemed to be paying, therefore I assumed that the €10 included the tip. There was a Canadian couple who were eventually seated with us and he seemed surprised and confused about the pricing, wondering if he was being cheated. I have no idea what the correct answer was, but seeing as how I didn’t tip on top of the €10, I’m going to go with my belief because it makes the most sense. The prices on the rest of the menu were equally high with Munich table water being priced at €3 – it’s like a less violent version of asking for water in the Coyote Ugly bar – and food also facing what can only be described as a beer tent surcharge.

inside the Hippodrom!

Each beer tent serves only the beer associated with its sponsor, therefore the Hippodrom tent only served Spaten beer. I tried the “Dark Spaten Beer” which was extremely drinkable. The only problem is that the darn beer mugs are really heavy.

dark spaten beer

It’s possible to order a half litre before 5pm, which is what I tried to do since I wanted to try a couple of different beer types and neither my liver nor my wallet were prepared to drink 2 litres of beer in a quick time period, but what arrived on our table was the full litre. Which is more or less the size of my head. The American girl wasn’t really a beer drinker but wanted to experience the atmosphere so she ordered a shandy which was really sweet but I can see how it would be refreshing under the right conditions. I was more interested in the fact that the shandy, even though the beer was mixed with lemonade, was the same price as my full, normal beer.

We shared stories with the Canadian couple and enjoyed the people watching as kids ran around and the music switched from the cover band to something much more traditional. Drinking songs and nationalistic tunes quickly pumped up the crowd, their giant bottles of beer swinging freely through the air. I think drinking out of these bottles with one hand requires practice – we noticed that the locals seemed to wrap their entire hand through the handle which helped to provide the control required.

our server

Security was watching like a hawk as we left, desperate to ensure that we didn’t steal any of their heavy glass mugs. I can see how it would be a concern but to be honest, these mugs were HEAVY, even when completely empty. Hauling it on another two months through Europe seems like much more trouble than it would be worth. For stop two, I joined the Americans as we headed towards the Augustiner Bräuhaus, conveniently located close to the festival grounds and recommended on my free hostel map.

The waiter was an enthusiastic older gentleman named Sascha who quickly seated us at a communal table which we were sharing with a few older Germans and a young Brazilian traveller who had missed his train and decided to make up for it by drinking beer and eating a massive order of pork knuckle. I’m not sure what things are like in Brazil, but if we were to believe him it’s a lawless country full of kidnappers and murderers and he had a particular joy in writing down murder statistics for our enjoyment.

interior of the Augustiner Bräuhaus

The beer here was much more reasonably priced and they also served the half litres, which is about equivalent to a pint, for just under €3. I tried the Augustiner Maibock, a seasonal beer, before heading back to the hostel (bypassing the bar and the enthusiastic Scots I had met the night before) and triple checking my alarm to ensure that it was set. I couldn’t miss my train to Salzburg and the efficient Germans definitely wouldn’t wait for me!



12 thoughts on “Frühlingsfest – the Munich Spring Festival

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  1. what a size of a beer glass…what kind of food are you eating….I want to see pictures….sausages, saukerquaut…etc….black forest cake….Bavarian cheesecake…you know us…..we like food….x


    1. I think she was carrying 4. We were trying to get a photo of a waitress with more mugs but they move way too fast.


  2. How much is the money converted over like how much would a beer cost or the pretzels? Curious. And cousin Linda would love it where they have the Octoberfest party at the Legion every fall, maybe we can talk her into this too! Lol. I’d love the dirndls costumes.


    1. The money is about 1.6 Cdn dollars to the euro (well technically 1.56-1.56 but I’m using 1.6). So that pretzel is about $4.80 Cdn and the beer is just under $16.


  3. Those pictures look incredible! How did you find out about Springfest? I’ve just found it online and it looks like it would be worth the trip. Need to start saving as it looks quite expensive (Especially the beer that you’ve mentioned!)

    Any help would be appreciated 😀


    1. I randomly read about it online and felt it would be a great way to start my trip! It’s definitely worth saving your pennies – it would be tough to do something like this festival on a really tight budget as you don’t have much of an alternative.


  4. Hey, I loved your post! This seems like an awesome trip… Do you have any recommendations on where to stay? I’m travelling solo, so It’d be great to go with a group into the festival!
    Thank youuuu


  5. I went to Springiest in Munich too I would say it was more authentic cultural-wise than Oktoberfest. I went with Stoke travel for €60 per night. I stayed for 3 nights. I slept in already built tents with mattresses & sleeping bags. Every day they gave us breakfast and dinners, which were really good. There was an Awesome international crowd,and crazy campsite parties. Best weekend of my life. You can also get unlimited beer and sangria at the camp. There’s lots to do outside of the festival as well


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