7 Oktoberfest alternatives
The beer barrels at Munich’s annual Oktoberfest may already be out of stock this year, but why not gather your comrades, pack your bags and raise your glasses to these seven alternative beer festival beauties around the world?
Bremen – Bremen Freimarkt
When? October 16th to November 1st
Overshadowed somewhat by Oktoberfest’s Munich monolith, Bremen Freimarkt is the oldest festival in Germany with a lot of fun to offer. Famous for late night partying and hosting a state-of-the-art festival filled with colourful fairground rides, this riverside city will really get your adrenaline pumping throughout the fortnight. Despite being a fair first and foremost, the amber nectar still flows – and it’s pretty good paired with freshly baked cookies, roasted almonds and outrageous entertainment.
Stay at: Bremen
Stavanger – What’s Brewing
When? 23rd – 24th October
The port city of Stavanger is home to an awesome annual craft beer festival, nestled in old brewery called Tou Scene now turned art and concert venue. Run by dedicated beer aficionados from local brewery Lervig, and volunteers from around Stavanger, you can wander between different beer creators trying authentic fare from around the region, along with some more exotic beverages. This place is as effortlessly cool as you’d expect from Norway, and it’s hard to know where to start.
Stay at: Stavanger St Svithun
Amsterdam – PINT Bokbier Festival, Amsterdam
When? 23rd – 25th October
Welcome to the largest beer festival in the Netherlands. Run by the PINT association – quite similar to England’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – PINT Bokbier Festival is a celebration for serious hop heads. Move from brewer to brewer trying different types of ‘bok’ beer, with a glass given on entrance which you’ll use for the entire evening. Beginning back in the ‘70s in a small Amsterdam café, the event is now held in national listed building Beurs van Berlage, the most beautiful conference centre in the city.
Stay at: Stayokay Amsterdam Stadsdoelen
Maitland Gaol – Bitter and Twisted Boutique Beer Festival
When? 7th – 8th November
Held within the walls of a former maximum security prison in Maitland Gaol, this surreal beer experience won’t have you under lock and key in terms of tipple choices, with 50 craft beers on offer along with a nationally acclaimed music line-up and the tastiest prison food you’ll find. Located just 30 minutes down the road from Newcastle, you can stay at our swanky hostel in a charmingly restored heritage building on the beach, complete with a ballroom and chandeliers.
Stay at: YHA Newcastle Beach
Bruges – BAB Bruges Beer Festival
When? 6th February 2016
For the discerning beer lover, it’s not the size that counts. Though Bruges beer festival is not nearly as well publicised as its Oktoberfest, you’ll find a different beer for every day of the year and hailing from around 80 countries around the world – plus, considering the event is far more intimate, there’s more to go around! Take your pick from a long list of new tastes and old favourites from the beer haven of Belgium and beyond; this year’s included Field, Gulden Spoor Blond, Hippoliet, Houblons, Indian Summer and Keyte Kriek Magic.
Stay at: Bruges – Europa
Auckland – The New Zealand Beer Festival
When? 15th March 2016
Bring old mates, meet new mates and make merry at this heady food and drink knees up in Auckland. Every beer sold at the event this year has been matched up with a gourmet food item for you to sample simultaneously – a festival of flavours and a stunning beer garden experience on the city’s waterfront.*Cheers*
Stay at: YHA Auckland City
Roskilde – Roskilde Music Festival
This year, festival goers to the reputably clean and green Roskilde festival queued up happily to urinate in a cup. This wasn’t an attempt to create a messy alternative to festival toilets, but rather an initiative which enabled volunteers to donate their wee to nearby fields to fertilise malting barley used for brewing beer. This initiative, given the catchy name ‘from p*ss to pilsner’, aims to change our approach to waste from being a burden into a valuable resource. Headliner Florence Welsh (Florence and the Machine) wasn’t left out either, with headlining artists also encouraged to christen the crops.
If everything goes to plan, guests at Roskilde 2017 will be served beer from barley fertilised by their own urine. Chug chug chug!