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Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest gives Oktoberfest a run for its money

Stuttgart's Canstatter Volksfest opens September 28, 2012.
Stuttgart's Canstatter Volksfest opens September 28, 2012.
Photo: in.Stuttgart

Determined not to be outdone by Munich's world-famous Oktoberfest, neighboring Baden-Württemberg's capital, Stuttgart, stages its own festival each year, known as the Cannstatter Volksfest.

Known locally as the Cannstatter Wasen, due to its location in the city district Bad Cannstatt near the Neckar river, this year the fest takes place from September 28 until October 14.

Somewhat like Oktoberfest, the event got its start in 1817 when the young King Wilhelm of Baden-Württemberg and his Russian wife Katharina sponsored a harvest festival on the king's birthday, September 28 to celebrate an end to several years of famine. The Royal Couple donated money and awards to the farmers with successful harvests to inspire them.

Since its humble beginnings as a harvest festival, the event has grown into a full-blown extravaganza, claiming "great family entertainment," with amusement park rides like the the famous ferris wheel, roller coaster and high swings as well as beer, wine and food tents. On October 14, the fair ends with a spectacular fireworks show set to music at 9:45 p.m.

More than four million visitors attended last year's event and this year is expected to draw even more. Seven "marquees" or beer tents can be reserved in advance at the official website. Although not as popular as Oktoberfest, the tents do fill up, so consider making reservations now. Costs run between 20-40 Euro depending on which day you choose.