Happy Thursday travelers! Do you ever celebrate Oktoberfest here in the US? We usually enjoy an Oktoberfest dinner at a local restaurant with German music, food, beer, and wine although we aren’t of German descent. Have you ever been to Oktoberfest in Munich? I went quite a few years ago, and it was such a fun experience! Socializing with people from all over the world, in addition to the locals, is a big part of what makes Oktoberfest so special. I recommend it as a travel bucket list item for anyone who loves a festival or themed party once we can all gather again.
This coming Saturday was to be the first day of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Considered to be the biggest folk festival in the world and a celebration of Bavarian culture, Oktoberfest was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, Oktoberfest will kick off on September 18th and conclude on Sunday, October 3rd. Why is Oktoberfest celebrated mostly in September? Because the fixed end date is traditionally the first Sunday in October.
Fun fact – the tradition of Oktoberfest in Munich started as a royal wedding celebration in 1810 when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. I was fortunate to attend a wedding a couple of years ago that was held in the Oktoberfest tradition including a traditional log cutting! In front of their guests, the bride and groom sawed a log in half to represent working together to overcome obstacles in their future married life.
Today, they share a few hidden gems with us as frequent travelers to Bavaria, “Take a short hike to a hut to enjoy cheese made from the cows kept in high pastures, visit the old wood carver for a new figurine, or attend a weekly town festival to listen to the traditional brass band play, and watch the children dance in their regional attire. One of my gems was stumbling upon the largest bunch of Edelweiss I’ve ever seen at a grave outside a small chapel while on a hike outside of Oberstdorf. They rare to see and extremely hard to grow.”
Inspired? Read on for more Bavarian experiences you can have any time of year…
Bavaria is a magical region in southeast Germany, and worthy of anyone’s European travel bucket list. The state of Bavaria, with its capital city Munich, attracts travelers around the globe for its fascinating history, vibrant culture, many festivals, and natural beauty of the Bavarian Alps including Germany’s highest peak Zugspitze.
A Bavarian bucket list check for travelers is the world-famous religious passion play in Oberammergau, located only 90 km south of Munich and also close to the borders of Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Like Oktoberfest, Oberammergau has been postponed due to the pandemic. The new dates are May 14 – October 2, 2022. The event has taken place just once every decade since 1634, and only people who have lived in the small Bavarian village for at least 20 years can be in the cast of 2,000+ actors, singers, and musicians. There are 103 performances over the almost 5-month timespan.
If you’re intrigued by castles, Oberammergau is close to Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle. These two royal residences were said to be favorites of King Ludwig II, and Neuschwanstein is the epitome of a fairy tale castle. Get the full scoop on the history of these castles and the royalty who inhabited them at the Museum of Bavarian Kings.
Mozartfest in June 2021 turns 100 years old, and the celebration in Wurzburg will be epic for music lovers. Wurzburg is home to the 18th-century Residence Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site with one of the world’s most beautiful staircases and ceiling frescos, which is located on the scenic River Main in northwest Bavaria. Concerts in the Residence Palace’s court gardens and wine cellars are must-dos. Love wine? Three of Germany’s most renowned wine estates are in Wurzburg.
If you haven’t done a Danube river cruise, which is essentially a floating boutique hotel, it’s an amazing kick-off experience for your trip to Bavaria. For example, AMA Waterway’s Melodies of the Danube itinerary (https://www.amawaterways.com/destination/europe-river-cruises/2021/melodies-of-the-danube) ends in the charming, 1,200 year-old Bavarian town of Vilshofen and takes you through historic riverside towns and cities in Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria on the way. This itinerary is available almost year-round from March to December. My clients are VIPs on our river cruise partners so please reach out if you’d like more information.
Charming, traditional Christmas markets throughout Bavaria run during the Advent season, late November through the third week in December. Think festively decorated wooden stalls brimming with holiday gifts, twinkling lights, mulled wine, strolling carolers, and St. Nikolaus sightings. Visit Nuremberg’s iconic “Christkindlsmarkt” which dates to the 16th century and is located in the historic Old Town. While there in December, head to the Bavarian Alps for some snow activities like winter walking on established winter trails, tobogganing, downhill, and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, and even dog sledding!
As you can see, there is a diversity of experiences for travelers in Bavaria, Germany. We consult closely with you to plan your ideal itinerary based on your interests and work with vetted suppliers, many based in Germany, that deliver exactly what discriminating travelers expect. For example, one of our best suppliers can arrange a private truffle experience with the only licensed truffle hunter in Germany or a guided hike in the Alps to a little-known, exclusive royal hunting lodge with magnificent views. This supplier also specializes in customized genealogy and heritage itineraries for families who want to trace their Bavarian roots.
Ready to learn more about a trip to Bavaria? Send me an email or give me a call. Although we can’t travel to Germany right now, it’s the perfect time to begin planning for next year and beyond.
Hidden Gem Tip: Designing your itinerary to avoid crowds and lines will be more important than ever for travelers in 2021. As your personal travel advisor, my goal is to help you make the most of your time in Bavaria (and everywhere you wish to travel) comfortably.
Wishing you and your family continued good health,