Tag Archives: walberlafest

Insiders guide to Walberlafest

24 Apr

On the first weekend in May the surprisingly positioned and oldest spring festival takes place in the Fränkische Schweiz, combining wonderful beer with some of the best views in the area. Walderlafest is something to be experienced. Walberla is one of the double peaked hills of the the Ehrenbürg (the other is called Rodenstein and whilst similarly lovely doesn’t have it’s own beer festival) which are located in Upper Franconia, about 10km from Forchheim.

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The site has some serious history behind it and there has been archaeological evidence of settlement as far back as the Bronze Age with celtic fortifications still visible today. The festival itself can be dated back to the 9th century and is celebrated yearly on the first weekend in May and it is now a pilgrimage made by both locals and tourists alike. You’ll be surprised with what you find on the top of the hill, I promise. Check out my pictures here.

How to get there

By train – Head for the small village of Kirchehrenbach, if you are travelling from Erlangen/Nürnberg you will most likely have to change trains in Forchheim, from other directions you may change in Ebermannstadt, both trains will take around 10 minutes. These trains generally only run once an hour so be prepared for crowded trains from Forchheim/Ebermannstadt if you are travelling later in the day or travel earlier to avoid the crowds.

By bike – Places to park a bike are easier to find than for a car, just do us all a favour and leave you bike at the bottom of the hill.

By car – There is no official parking for the event so go early to find a legal space. Kirchehrenbach is a small village and doesn’t have very much parking.

Important – However you travel to Walberlafest you can’t get away from the walk to the top (don’t worry that’s where they keep the beer). The walk itself is only about 3km some of it is quite steep (particularly the last 500 metres or so) and whilst most of the paths are in good condition, depending on the weather some parts can be a little rough (that last 500 metres or so again).

What to wear

The event is on a hill in the countryside, there is limited shelter so you are very much at the mercy of the elements, plan accordingly.

Take suncream and a waterproof, hey a coat doubles as something to sit on and it’s a long way down in the rain without one.

Sensible footwear, you can’t get out of the walk up there (it’s totally worth it) but to ensure your feet are happy wear some practical comfortable flats, you don’t have to have hiking boots, a decent pair of trainers or pumps will be just as good.

Whilst I’ve seen tracht at Walberlafest it’s not hugely popular, maybe a day to leave it at home.

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Useful to know

The location is a protected natural landscape, always keep to the marked trails and dogs must be kept on leads at all times.

Pfand still applies, even on the top of a hill, return your mug to get your Pfand (deposit) back

Take money, there is a Sparkasse in Kirchehrenbach but not on the hill (and it’s a long way down), get your cash before you set off.

As with most beer festivals it is family friendly but some of the ground can be uneven and rocky, plan accordingly.

Recommendations

Take a picnic, food is your regular festival stuff, lots of chips and sausages, take your own if you want something different.

Take a blanket to sit on, festival seating is limited so go prepared.

IMGP1624_2Try the Schwarze Anna from the Neder Brauerei, it’s a Schwarz beer (obviously) and looks like Guinness but tastes much much lighter, it’s one of my all time favourites.

If Schwarz beer isn’t your thing head on over to the Eichhorn Brauerei or the Brauerei Greif because they both do wonderful Hell beers, which also make delicious Radlers.

Take a bottle of water for the walk up, a lot of it is in direct sun and if it’s hot you’ll be glad of a drink half way up.

There are two paths up, a steeper incline and a gentler path, both merge near the top anyway but the gentler path is wider and more suitable for pushchairs and has better views for photographers. Both are marked and/or obvious.

The details

The fest begins with the raising of the May tree at 5pm Friday 1st May 2015 and the first barrel is tapped later at 6pm.

Officially the fest opening hours are 10am-11pm Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May 2015.

There is a church service held at the chapel on Walberla 9am Sunday 3rd May 2015.

Whilst Kirchehrenbach is the closest station many people choose to park in nearby villages and walk the additional distance, the surrounding area is pretty flat so on a nice day that’s definitely an option, the choice is yours.

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Have you heard of Walberla?

24 Apr

Walberla has the history, all of it. They’ve dug up Bronze Age artefacts there, the work of the Celts is still very visible and the May celebration (that we now call Walberlafest) dates back to the 9th century. Add to that the amazing natural beauty of the place, stunning views and the marvellous cardio workout you get making your way to the top and you should be able to understand why this place is one of my happy places.

Walberlafest has all that, and beer. Possibly my most happy of happy places. And since I’m not able to go this year I thought I’d share my photos with you, and maybe convince a few of you to go in my place. Walberla is easily spottable from the train station in Kirchehrenbach, follow everyone else and head for the hill.

When you actually get to the top it’s a little confusing. Oh it’s just a beer festival, like any other. There is beer and food, tents and seating, arcade games and gingerbread hearts, but then it all becomes clear when you see those views. There is actually a lot of space up there on the hill for everyone to enjoy the festivities.

I hope that you get chance to go and experience it for yourself, if you want the lowdown then check out my Insider’s guide. I’ll be there next year rain or shine!

Feeling on top of the world….

25 Apr

….and some other local experiences you won’t want to miss.

On top of a mountain (well maybe just more of a really big hill) in the (middle of crapping nowhere) middle of the Fränkische Schweiz on the first weekend in May, you find a wonderful beer festival with some of the best views (and beers) in the area. It’s called the Walberlafest and I strongly recommend you go.

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Walberlafest 2013, and yes it’s all on the top of a mountain!

It’s origins are seriously ancient, possibly right back to pagan feasts in the 9th century and because of this it’s considered by some to be the oldest Spring festival in Germany. It is quite a hike up Walberla and in places it can be quite steep, wear sensible shoes and take a coat, even if the sun is out in the morning, it is a long way down in the rain.

The best way to get there is by train, one of the most popular paths up Walberla starts in the small village of Kirchehrenbach, incidentally this is the best station to get off at and start your climb to the top. Erlangen-Forchheim-Kirchehrenbach is how your trip would go from Erlangen Hbf, be prepared for the trains to be crowded if you are travelling later in the day. Saturday and Sunday are the main days for visitors 10am-11pm, though the tapping of the first cask takes place on the Friday at about 6pm. There is also a church service at the Chapel on Walberla at 9am on Sunday.

Die Blaue Nacht (The blue night) is Nuremberg’s cultural offering to May, the night of May 3rd to be specific. Now you might be thinking, blue night? what? so everything is blue? Well yes in  German feat of wonderful organisation every bulb in every lamppost in Nuremberg is replaced with a blue one, for a night. That’s not all it is obviously, but it’s a distinct amount of effort that goes into things like this, it really is all in the detail for me.

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A tiny idea of what goes on on Blaue Nacht from 2012

The city centre opens it’s doors, it’s churches, it’s spaces and even it’s castle, to a ‘long night of art and culture’. You can buy a ticket to attend various events around the city but there is such a lot to see for free that I haven’t ever felt the need to buy one. There is usually a light show projected onto the castle once the sun goes down, it is very impressive but it can get very busy so maybe don’t go in a huge group.

The bierkeller of the Forchheimer Kellerwald open this weekend 26 & 27 April, you can sample beers and food so you know where to head for the good stuff when you arrive for Annafest later in the year

Entla’s Keller Erlangen also kick off their musical events for the year this weekend 26 & 27 April with some fabulous Franconian music ‘Fränkisches Gwerch am Berch’. Check out the calendar of events for information on dates and musicians.

Some Osterbrunnen (including Bierberbach) are still dressed and waiting to be photographed and the Volksfest in Nürnberg continues.

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