Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My favourite fair: Erlanger Bergkirchweih

The Bergkirchweih is an annual fair taking place in Erlangen, Germany. Locals nickname it Berch, which is the franconian pronunciation of the German word Berg, meaning mountain.

The Bergkirchweih starts every Thursday before pentecost at 5 p.m. The opening ceremony called "Bierprobe", which is carried out by the city's mayor, takes place in a different beer cellar every year, with thousands gathering to watch the opening spectacle with a huge fight for beer.

Twelve days later the last beer barrel is burried in the cellar where the next Bierprobe will take place. The Bergkirchweih area is located in the northern extremity of downtown Erlangen and roughly a kilometer long (0.6 ms.). With its beer cellars, booths and rides and its huge ferris wheel, which is the Berch's traditional landmark, it is a festival for the whole family, no matter how young or old.

With its "ale-benches" under limes, chestnuts and oaks it is the biggest open-air-beergarden of Europe with more than 11,000 seats.

The Bergkirchweih has taken place since 1755. Nowadays the time when the fair takes place is called the "fifth season" in Erlangen.
Due to the fact that Erlangen has one of the best universities in Germany and houses the large company Siemens, many families and people move in and out.
The Bergkirchweih is often the only chance for old friends, fellows or colleagues to meet again, resulting in the visit of roughly a million people - ten times the town's population - for the event. The Bergkirchweih is the third biggest fair in Bavaria after the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing.

Most people that have been to the Bergkirchweih once in their life-time say that it is much better than the Oktoberfest and don't want to miss it ever again.
I was born on the first day of the Bergkirchweih (Bierprobe) and this must have affected me. I come back every year.
You can find me at the famous Entla's Keller, the so called Kessel (hollow), where the mood of people is boiling because of beer and live music of the Bergband Overdrive. Some of the songs that are in the standard repertoire:

  • Leaving on a jetplane
  • Hey Jude
  • Country roads
  • Hotel California
  • Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht
  • Lilli Marleen
  • Verdamp lang her


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