In this post, I will share with you my experience visiting Oktoberfest in Stuttgart – Cannstatter Volksfest or Cannstatter Wasen. If you’re looking for Oktoberfest alternatives or best beer festivals in Germany – Cannstatter Wasen is probably the best option, as it’s a very similar celebration, yet more authentic and less touristy.
In case you’ve been to Oktoberfest in Munich (or Wiesn) too many times or you think that it’s simply too expensive, well, I guess you’re looking for alternatives to Oktoberfest or other amazing beer festivals in Germany. With the rise of popularity of the Oktoberfests all around the world (hey, I even visited Oktoberfest in Hong Kong), of course, you can visit the beer festival in your home town. However, if you’re looking for a very authentic experience, tasty German beer, wearing dirndl or lederhosen, a proper fair and an amazing festival atmosphere and all that without having to pay £400 per night for a hotel and without queuing at the tents since 7 am, well, your best bet is Cannstatter Volksfest or Cannstatter Wasen!
Yes, there is a massive beer festival in Stuttgart as well and it’s actually very very similar to the Oktoberfest in Munich (believe me, I visited both). Even the names are similar – Wiesn in Munich versus Wasen in Stuttgart. Both originated in the same way – as an agricultural celebration or a harvest festival, however, Oktoberfest in Munich became very popular with tourists and Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart stayed more authentic and locally relevant.
How to get to Stuttgart and where to stay there?
First, let’s see how to get to Stuttgart and where to stay there during Cannstatter Wasen – amazing beer festival in Germany.
It’s very easy to fly to Stuttgart from pretty much anywhere in Europe. In case you’re planning to fly from London (just like us), there is a direct flight from London Heathrow to Stuttgart that departs early in the morning (at 7:40 am and departs late on any other day (around 7 pm), so you can even come to Stuttgart just for a weekend! There are also flights from Gatwick that depart in the morning and go back at night. You can see the prices and availability here.
We stayed at the hotel Jaz that is located just 15 minutes walking to the main train station of Stuttgart (Hauptbahnhof) (or 1 stop by metro). It was an amazing modern hotel with a beautiful terrace, a weekend brunch with a DJ and really nice and modern rooms. The breakfast was really good as well and overall, I think, Jaz was a perfect hotel to stay at in Stuttgart. You can check the prices and availability here.
When is Cannstatter Wasen happening?
If you’re wondering, when is Cannstatter Wasen happening, it usually lasts for 3 weeks around the end of September – mid-October. This year, Cannstatter Wasen is happening between the 27th of September and 13th of October. Depending on when are you reading this post, you can still go and visit the Wasen!
Moreover, there is also a beer festival in Spring in Stuttgart called Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest. It usually happens between the 18th of April and 10th of May (or around these dates – the dates listed were the ones of this year). In case you are busy with work in Autumn and can’t take any holidays, attending Cannstatter Volksfest in Spring (or Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest).
Cannstatter Volksfest – is it the main competitor of Oktoberfest in Munich?
Cannstatter Volksfest or Cannstatter Wasen is actually the second biggest beer festival in the world. It is not significantly smaller than Wiesn in Munich, however, as I already mentioned, it is more authentic and less manicured compared to Oktoberfest in München.
As I have been to both and only with a difference of 1 year, I can tell you my impressions from both and the differences I noticed. From what I have seen, Oktoberfest in Munich has slightly more photogenic stalls and attractions, there are also more tents and the tents are way bigger. I also noticed that there were way more tourists in Munich and more people were wearing a traditional costume outside the tents.
However, I noticed people in traditional Black Forest national outfits in Stuttgart on the Wasen and these outfits were incredible. Somehow, Canstatter Wasen felt more authentic, more relaxed and more fun. You don’t have to wake up at 6 am and queue to get a good spot at a tent (you have to do that at Oktoberfest, especially during the weekends), you can take your time and enjoy your time at Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart.
Also, I have seen so many groups of girls around and it felt like a dirndl fashion show. If you are female and you’re thinking of visiting Oktoberfest with your group of friends, Wasen in Stuttgart is perfect for that.
If I were to pick one, Cannstatter Wasen or Oktoberfest in Munich, I would probably return to Cannstatter Wasen, as it’s more laid-back, less crowded and overall, is a more enjoyable and authentic experience.
So here are some things you need to know before visiting Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart:
Please note that you don’t need to pay to enter the fair – it’s free! You can wander around, take photos and observe people at the fair free of charge. The entrance to the tents is normally free as well. However, in some popular tents, you need to pay to book a table. The tables are normally for 5, 6, 10 or 15+ people. However, in some tents, you can book a standing spot for 1,2,3 or more people.
1.Try to visit the festival on a working day or Sunday (not on Saturday) as it won’t be so crowded and it will be easier to find a space in a tent
2. Buy a traditional outfit – Tracht in advance – you can’t buy it at the fair – one of the great spots to buy a Dirndl or Lederhosen is the luxury department store Breuninger in the heart of Stuttgart. Prices for dirndls usually start at 100-150 EUR and can go up to 500 or even more EUR.
If you can’t go to the department store and need to order your Dirndl or Lederhosen online, you can check these ones out.
3. Check the official page for the list of events like a Festival parade on the first Sunday or a Fireworks event.
4. Food inside the tents is usually better than the food at the food stalls outside
5. Drink cautiously – beer at the Wasen is quite strong!
There are 9 tents at the Wasen: Sonja Merz, Klauss & Klauss, Fürstenberg Festzelt, Göckelesmaier, Schwabenwelt, Zum Wasenwirt, Grandls Hofbräu Zelt, Almhüttendorf and Cannstatter Oberamt.
We went to Göckelesmaier – it was quite big, very festive and very fun inside. It’s a chicken-themed tent and their main speciality dish is also chicken.
You can read more about the booking conditions here, however, the cheapest price for booking is about 30 EUR per person, that includes a budget for food or drinks. The smallest tables are for 6 people (make sure to assemble a group).
You don’t need to book to get in, however, the most popular tents could be very busy, so booking is advised.
How to get to Cannstatter Wasen?
You can get to Wasen using public transport (take a train to Bad Cannstatt and then walk for about 4 minutes) – that would take you around 10 minutes from the city centre or you can take a taxi. There is no Uber in Germany, but you can use the service called mytaxi that rebranded to FREE NOW.
Our experience at the Wasen:
Overall, we really enjoyed Cannstatter Volksfest and Wasen experience. It was fun: delicious food, loads of beer, fun live music and amazing festive atmosphere.
This post was written in collaboration with Stuttgart Airport, Marketing Stuttgart, Breuninger, Jaz Hotel and Collab_ed!
I hope you enjoyed reading about one of the best beer festivals in Germany that is also probably the best alternative to Oktoberfest in Munich – incredible Cannstatter Wasen!