The International Berlin Beer Festival might be a relative newcomer on the European festival ‘circuit’ – having only been established since 1997 – but it has quickly proved itself to be a veritable giant. And not just because it has the longest beer garden in the world!
The International Berlin Beer Festival is held during the first weekend of August every year and now attracts well in excess of 800,000 visitors to this fascinating city. The Karl Marx Allee, which is about a mile and a half in length, becomes the focus of the festival. It is divided into 20 or so different beer ‘regions’, each of which will focus on the food, culture – and beer – of the area. Beer lovers can ponder on the prospect of there being more than 1800 types available from 80 or more countries and over 240 different breweries. So much beer – so little time.
Visitors can call in at the various Information Points along the route to purchase the official Festival Beer Mug to carry along with them, replenishing it at the various bars along the way. The Festival represents the opportunity of trying beers from all over the world. All the most famous brand names are here – along with others only the most dedicated beer aficionado will have heard of.
One of the most popular aspects of the Beer Festival is the entertainment available. Each year there are up to 18 separate stages erected on Karl Marx Allee, featuring live rock, folk, country and pop music. There are even Comedy Stages. At various times over the weekend, there will be processions of historical brewery vehicles driving along the Festival street. All this superb entertainment – and it’s absolutely free of charge. No wonder so many people now treat the International Berlin Beer Festival as a regular part of their summer; it has all the traditional festival elements, in the middle of one of the world’s great cities.
Berlin itself has become more popular with visitors during recent years. Much of the focus, of course, has been on recent historical landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, the amazing Berlin Jewish Museum and stretches of the evocative Berlin Wall – including the unique East Side Gallery. This is a section of the wall, nearly a mile in length, with more than one hundred stunning mural paintings.
There is more to see in Berlin, however, than poignant reminders of the past seventy years. A wealth of Prussian Baroque and Classical architecture can be found – especially notable being the Charlotte Palace and the Reichstag Buuilding. Berlin is also a city of beautiful parks and lakes – especially the city’s ‘lungs’, the Tiergarten. Let’s not forget that mainland Europe’s largest department store, KaDeWe – a veritableElysian Fields for shopaholics – can be found on the Wittenberg Platz in the centre of the main shopping area.
The city of Berlin currently has two International Airports – Tegel and Schönefeld, a little outside the city and where the budget airlines tend to fly. The current plan is that all air traffic will eventually be centered around a new airport currently under construction at Schönefeld – the Berlin Brandenburg International.
As would be expected in such a vast metropolitan area, accommodation in Berlin is plentiful and varied. Keep in mind, however, that more than three quarters of a million people attend the International Berlin Beer Festival each year – many of them visitors – so it is best to make reservations as early as possible. More information about the festival can be found on the official festival website.