Seasons In Munich: Christmas Markets, Fruhlingsfest, Film Festival, and Oktoberfest

Munich - a postcard Christmas setting
Munich – a Christmas setting fit for a postcard

In Singapore, or Scottsdale, or Honolulu, it’s hard to tell when it’s Christmas. Or when it’s Springtime. Or even football season.

Munich, on the other hand, plays all seasons to the hilt.

Starting with the cold side, Munich offers some of the best wintertime activity on the planet. The twenty plus Christmas markets in Munich are a great start. But at the heart of it, Munich is the birthplace of the traditional Christmas snowy scene. This is where the scenery matches the postcards. Most Christmas villages that you see in pictures, paintings, and models are depicting snowy German towns. These towns are even better in real life with snow crunching under your feet.

Munich is also a perfect jumping off point for winter Alpine skiing. Munich is about a one-hour drive from some of the best skiing in the world. Plenty of trains are available for the trip as well, making for a scenic trip to the slopes. Check out Garmisch-Partenkirschen for the best combination of mountains, snow, and scenery in Bavaria.

Warming up to springtime, Munich offers Fruhlingsfest (translation “Springfest”).   Fruhlingsfest is sort of a sneak preview of Oktoberfest, with smaller crowds. The centerpiece is a huge beer tent called the Festhalle Bayernland, which is complemented by carnival rides and flea market activity. Some of Germany’s breweries make special springtime brews just for Fruhlingsfest.

Springtime also brings the first opportunity for folks to take advantage of Munich’s Urban Naked Zones. That’s right – there are several secluded park settings in Munich that are designated as nude-friendly. Englischer Garten is perhaps the most famous and most visible of the Zones. It’s good to have a heads-up on the Zones before arriving in Munich – it’s an odd contrast to the normal city life.

On to Summer! Of course, beer gardens are in full swing when summer comes around. Daily high temperatures range from 65F to 75F in Munich’s summer, which means you won’t be suffering heat stroke. Instead, you can enjoy the Munich Film Festival in June, where over 200 international films are typically featured. Also check out Tollwood Summer Festival for theater and musical performances of all types.

To round out the year, the fall brings Oktoberfest. This is the most well known of Munich activities, and actually starts in September rather than October.  Oktoberfest is the inflated version of Fruhlingsfest, with the main attraction being Oktoberfest beer.

You won’t find Coors Light at Oktoberfest. To be served at Oktoberfest, beer must be brewed within the city limits of Munich, and pass specific purity tests. In fact, only six breweries are permitted to sell beer at Oktoberfest: Augustiner-Brau, Hacker-Pschorr-Brau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, Spatrnbrau, and Staatliches Hofbrau-Munchen. That leaves little room for creativity, but you won’t have much after your first two liters anyway.

Fall and Oktoberfest also bring out the best in traditional Bavarian dress. Lederhosen and Dirndl are in impressive form here. It’s a great change from the denim and t-shirt environment you might find at a normal watering hole. You’ll know you are in Munich at Oktoberfest. This is again where the scenery matches the postcards.

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