Remember that time I was super excited to move to THE Oktoberfest city and then it was canceled for the first time since WWII?
Oktoberfest is the largest Volksfest (folk festival) in the world and generally brings in ~1.5 billion euros from tourists each year. Until we moved here, we didn’t realize that there’s more to Oktoberfest than your average American probably assumes. Yes – the giant beer tents are the main attraction, but the festival grounds also have carnival rides, food vendors, and some cultural events. It’s essentially a State Fair on steroids. The festival takes place in the Theresienweise, which is a massive 420,000 sq. m (4,500,000 sq. ft.) area just outside the old town. You can really feel the vastness of the festival grounds when it’s empty.
As you might expect, the smaller Oktoberfest vendors were predicted to be the hardest hit from the cancellation. So, in an effort to give the city a little post-lockdown pep-in-it’s-step and a chance for the vendors to make some money, Munich has come up with a solution – Sommer in der Stadt (Summer in the city)!
Summer in the city is essentially a decentralized volksfest, and to be clear, it’s a “non-traditional event” and “not a replacement for Oktoberfest”. From the last week of July through the first week of September, pop-up beer gardens, concerts, craft vendors, food vendors, and carnival rides are scattered around the city. So, on Saturday we decided it was time to go see what it was all about.
There are three main festival locations – the Theresienwiese (the Oktoberfest grounds), the Köningsplatz, and Olympia Park. It seemed fitting to start at the festival grounds (and they were the closest), so that’s what we did.
Have you guys heard of Assumption Day? Yeah – neither had we.
Clearly, we aren’t Catholic, but the state of Bavaria is, and Saturday was a public holiday for the Assumption of Mary – aka the day it was assumed that Mary went to Heaven. Thank you, Munich Reddit, because otherwise, we would have no groceries – all the shops (including the grocery stores) were closed on Saturday (and are always closed on Sunday). I bring this up because I think this contributed to the underwhelming feeling we had when we excitedly made it to the fairground Saturday afternoon. There wasn’t much going on…
I did get a picture with the Bavaria Statue, though.
Post-coronavirus Tip: You can climb up the Bavaria Statue for a nice view of the fairgrounds!
I say post-coronavirus tip, because it’s closed until further notice. Very disappointing.
In case you didn’t notice, there is no shade in the Theresienwiese, and it was HOT on Saturday, so we carried on. It was just… alright. 😂
To be fair, it was a holiday, it was very family-friendly, and we didn’t make it out to Olympia Park, which was the primary location for the cultural events. I think I also had higher expectations based on pre-corona festivals. I will also give the city of Munich a lot of credit for ensuring a safe festival environment. There were never too many attractions in one area and the programs are very spread out over time. For instance, we learned after the fact that the hand-made craft mini-festival was on the Thursday and Friday prior, naturally.
I did manage to get another photo-frame picture, and we ate a chocolate-covered banana. So, it could have been worse.
Saturday wasn’t all-for-not, though. We managed to finally see the Isar River! I’ve been wanting to go swimming in the Isar, but it’s about a 40 min bike ride from our house, so we just haven’t done it yet. We didn’t swim on Saturday, but luckily there was an open kiosk with cold beer and plenty of space for people watching.
Oh, another Assumption Day tip? Check your train times. Apparently, when Mary goes to Heaven the S-Bahn doesn’t run like normal. Our typical 15 min trip turned into an hour. Partly, because we had to take the tram, which is slower. Partly, because despite getting on the tram in the direction of home, we ended up going in the opposite direction. Still not quite sure how that happened… oh well.
Still no news on Shane’s job. Fingers crossed for an update soon!