With Oktoberfest firmly marked in the calendar for many beer fans, you probably already know that Germany has a pretty kick-ass reputation for being a major front-runner in all things beer. But what you might not realise is that whilst Munich has been making headlines with all their bonkers Bavarian antics in the south, Germany’s capital Berlin has been hosting their very own established Beer Festival, with over 2,400 types of beer on offer, celebrating their 20th year in the summer of ’16!
Whilst I can’t compare the two as Oktoberfest is still on the bucket list for me, I can certainly vouch that Berlin International Beer Festival needs to be one for your diary. First visiting in 2015 I loved it so much that I wangled a return trip this year for a long and lazy boozy weekend!
Where and When?
This annual event is held every year over the first weekend of August (this year 5th – 7th) along Karl Max Allee, in the Mitte District just a short stroll from Alexander Platz. Beer tents, food stalls and 20 music stages hosting a range of national and international bands dominate the entire stretch of this enormous communist-era boulevard, from U Frankfurter Tor to the east and Strausberger Platz to the west. It’s open for most of the day and closes late, so choose to spend the day chilling with a tankard in the shade or visit in the evening when the party atmosphere kicks in.
This weekender attracts a real mix-bag; couples, 20-somethings, older folk, the elderly, families, tourist groups, locals, stag parties, hard-core beer lovers… everyone, so it’s almost impossible to feel * not * part of in ‘in-crowd’. Even if you’re not feeling the alcohol, there’s enough street food and live entertainment on the Beer Mile to keep the vibe at a high; it’ll make you want to whittle the hours away in their sunny beer gardens.
How much is it?
It’s essentially one big three-day street party, so it’s completely free to enter! You can choose to buy a ‘festival glass’ for a couple of Euro from one of the official stalls at either end, which i’d recommend, even if it’s only so you can take home a souvenir glass with a picture of their super cute mascot on it; a Berlin bear with a beer!
If you don’t make this purchase you can still get involved, it just means you have to fork out a small amount for a ‘Pfand’ (or deposit), but this amount is returned to you once you hand the glass back.
Beer varies in price from a couple of Euro to fill up your festival glass or around 10 Euro for a ‘Oktoberfest’ style tankard, but most seem to sit around the 2-4 Euro mark keeping the festival pretty affordable.
Weekend in Berlin: the logistics
Berlin is easy to get to from inside or outside of Europe, with great train links from the surrounding countries and lots of flight routes into the two airports serving the city. I flew into Shonefeld via a cheap as chips Ryanair flight from London As a major metropolitan city, finding accommodation within your personal budget is fairly simple too, whether it’s hostels, Airbnb’s, budget chains or blow-out luxury.
If you want to stay close to the Beer Festival book a hotel in the vicinity of Alexander Platz and you’ll be within walking distance of the action. I stayed in budget boutique aparthotel Lux 11 Berlin Mitte that was a perfect base for checking out the festival or sightseeing across the rest of Berlin once our livers had taken enough beating!
Have you been to Berlin Beer Festival? Want to recommend another European festival? Comment below and let me know!