German Beer Festival (credit: Randy Yagi)
Beer festivals all over Europe are in full swing as Munich’s Frühlingfest, Scotland’s Paisley Beer Festival and the Czech Republic’s Czech Beer Festival have already passed. But there are scores of other European beer festivals still to come this summer including the granddaddy of them all, Oktoberfest, unquestionably the world’s largest and most famous beer festival. However, although a good portion of this summer’s best European beer festivals can be found in England and Germany, their neighboring countries should not go unnoticed. If you’re a beer lover and want to experience an authentic European beer festival, here’s what’s still in store for this summer.
Dates: August 5-7, 2016
Now in its 20th year, the admission-free Berlin International Beer Festival is expected to draw nearly one million visitors to this annual celebration of the unofficial national drink. Offering more than 2,400 beer varieties from 340 breweries representing 87 countries, the ever-growing beer festival kicks off on International Beer Day and will also host several national and international music artists who will perform on one of the 20 stages spread across an area 2.2 km (1.36 miles) long. The premier attraction of the Berlin International Beer Festival is the “longest beer garden in the world,” stretching more than a mile along the grand boulevard known as Karl-Marx-Alle in the heart of eastern Berlin and acknowledged by Guinness World Records in 2011. With a different motto each year, the 2016 version is 500 years of the German purity law (Reinheitsgebot), also referred to as the German beer purity law, first enacted in Bavaria in 1516.
Dates: July 6
More than 100 artists are expected to appear on 10 different stages at Estonia’s largest annual festival, the Õllesummer Festival (Beer Summer Festival). Described as both a beer and music festival for Estonia and its neighboring countries in Northern Europe, the event will be held at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, just a few miles east of Tallinn, the Baltic country’s capital and largest city. Among music artists who have performed in previous years at this annual summer fest are Moby, Pet Shop Boys, Franz Ferdinand, the Cardigans and Calvin Harris. While the entire music lineup is not yet released, among those confirmed to appear are Keith Flint, Maxim Reality, John Newman and The Prodigy as well as dozens of Estonian bands and solo artists. Also on hand at Õllesummer Festival will be approximately 200 food and beverage stands, amusement rides and other forms of outdoor activities. Due to the expected crowd of more than 100,000, visitors are urged to take public transit from the medieval city center of Tallinn.
Great British Beer Festival, England
Dates: August 9-13, 2016
Often described as the World’s Biggest Pub, the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is the largest of its kind in Great Britain. Returning to the historic Olympia Grand, the annual event will offer over 900 real ales, ciders, perries and international beers while attracting as many as 60,000 beer lovers who will consume more than 350,000 pints. In addition to more than 300 breweries from all over the UK including Fuller’s, Charles Wells and Brains, the five-day event will also feature live entertainment, a variety of food stalls and even family-friendly activities. The Great British Beer Festival can be reached with London’s underground railway system, although riders must be especially mindful of the gap if they plan to have a beer — or three. The dates of the GBBF coincide with London Beer City, a 10-day celebration of the city’s best breweries, pubs and bars.
Belgrade Beer Festival, Serbia
Dates: August 17-21, 2016
With the potential to draw more than one million visitors, Belgrade Beer Fest is the largest beer festival in Southeastern Europe. Held annually since 2003 in the capital and largest city of Serbia, the five-day festival is admission free and also hosts more than 30 live music concerts presenting contemporary bands primarily from Serbia and other parts of Europe. This festival has also showcased more prominent music artists such as Cee Lo Green and Simple Minds while drawing in an excess of 120,000 music lovers. Named as Serbia’s best festival of 2015, the Belgrade Beer Fest has been held in the Belgrade neighborhood of Ušće since 2008, where other major music concerts have been held featuring the likes of Metallica, The Police, Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne and The Rolling Stones. In past years, bus service was provided free to all festival goers from major spots in Belgrade, including Republic Square, Slavija Square and Central Station.
Dates: September 17-October 3, 2016
It’s actually a folk festival and it actually concludes after summer is officially over. But as the world’s largest Volksfest, it’s also the world’s largest beer festival and for most anyone is far and above the ultimate beer event on a bucket list. Drawing more than six million visitors annually, Oktoberfest Munich is best known for its world-famous beer tents, 14 of which are capable of seating up to 10,000 beer patrons, as well as its traditional Bavarian music and plenty of great food. However, this 16-day festival is not just reserved for beer fans, as it’s also a family-friendly event with amusement rides, parades and special events. Referred locally as the Wiesen, Oktoberfest is held on a massive 4.5-million-square-foot public area known as the Theresienwiese. Due to the massive crowds, visitors are strongly urged to take advantage of public transportation, as traffic will be gridlocked near the event and parking will be at a premium.