Cannstatter Volksfest
The Cannstatter Volksfest is an annual three-week festival in Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It is sometimes also referred to by foreign visitors as the Stuttgart Beer Festival although it is actually more of an autumn
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

al fair. Locals to Stuttgart variously refer to the festival as the Cannstatter Wasen or just Wasen.

The Volksfest
A Volksfest is a large event in Germany which combines a festival and a carnival. Admission to a Volksfest is free however you have to pay for each ride separately....

 takes place from late September to early October, spanning a period over three weekends, ending the second Sunday in October. It's held on an area called the Cannstatter Wasen
Cannstatter Wasen
The Cannstatter Wasen is a 35 hectare festival area on the banks of the Neckar river in the part of Stuttgart known as Bad Cannstatt.The Cannstatter Wasen form part of the Neckar Park Fairground....

. The extensive Wasen area is located in the Stuttgart city district of Bad Cannstatt, near the river Neckar
The Neckar is a long river, mainly flowing through the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, but also a short section through Hesse, in Germany. The Neckar is a major right tributary of the River Rhine...

. A smaller variant of the Stuttgart Festival - the Stuttgart Spring Festival
Stuttgart Spring Festival
Stuttgart Spring Festival is an annual fair that takes place in the German city of Stuttgart between the middle of April and the beginning of May. The festival takes place on the Cannstatter Wasen, traditional fairgrounds in Stuttgart's Bad Cannstatt district...

 is also held each year on the Wasen.


Although the Volkfest is not strictly speaking a beer festival, it is considered by many to be the second largest beer festival in the world after the Munich Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest, or Wiesn, is a 16–18 day beer festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The...

. According to estimates about 4.2 million people visited the festival in 2006. The Volksfest begins one week later than the Oktoberfest.


Cannstatter Volksfest – Wasen

From an agricultural event to a famous festival

Colorful flashing lights, the squealing and rattling of unknown machines, the smell of burned almonds, “Göckele” (roasted chicken) and stockfish affects all your senses. Above the noise you can hear the bandmaster shouting out typical slogans like “die Krüge hoch”. No doubt, it’s “Volksfest” time in Bad Cannstatt. Annually around four million festival people gather at the biggest carnival festival in the world since 1818.

In 1815 a gigantic eruption of the Vulcano Tambora in Indonesia led to a climatic catastrophe even in Europe. The incredible explosion hurled around 100 cubic km of rocks, ashes and dust up to 70 km high and darkened the sky. The blast equalled to 170.000 Hiroshima bombs. The shockwave could be felt 1.500 km away. 10.000 people died due to the eruption. Another 100.000 died because of the aftermath. The dust particles were distributed by the jet stream around the world and caused crop failure and famine in Europe.

The winter of 1815/16 in Wurttemberg was the coldest since weather records were kept. Snow until May, no summer, alternating rain, whipping hail and thunderstorms continued into the growth season. This made bringing in a harvest in those years not possible. Throughout Germany, people were starving. The little existing flour was stretched with sawdust and the planted potatoes were dug up again. The need of the people was indescribable.

When the young King Wilhelm I. became mayor of Wurttemberg in 1816, the crisis of the people couldn’t be any worse. His brother in law, Czar Nikolaus of Russia, helped him to relive the biggest misery with deliveries of grain.

Then, in 1817, when the first harvest wagon was brought in, King Wilhelm and his Russian wife Katharina had the glorious idea to sponsor a harvest festival. This should take place annually on the King’s birthday on September, 28th in the area of the Cannstatter Wasen.

The first festival in 1818 lasted one day and had more than 30,000 visitors. At the time the village of Canstatt had a population of 3000. The Royal Couple donated cash prizes and honorary awards for outstanding agricultural accomplishment. The festival was designed to encourage the farmers.

At the same time the popular monarch couple established an agricultural school in castle Hohenheim. This set the foundation for today’s agricultural university. Due to this and other outstanding efforts the young monarch was titled “King of the farmers” and “Farmer amongst kings”. In the German Agricultural Museum many of the developments, e.g. the double bladed plow, can still be seen.

From agricultural festival to people festival

The most important activities of the festival had been the award for breeding performance and the display of agricultural efficiency of the Wurttemberg farmers. The first food shops and carnies showed up with the first festival. The vendors attracted the people with sauerkraut, sausage and a lot of sweet fancy foods. A market completed the culinary choices. The carnies presented the strongest men, the fattest women and a lot of other curiosities. Through the years the festival grew larger and larger and transformed from the “Agricultural festival of Kannstadt” to the “Cannstatter Volksfest”.

During the 19th century the first festival lasted one day, by 1920 it was extended to five days and since 1972 the Volksfest has been celebrated for 16 days.

In the beginning, there had only been a few Volksfest-carnies and beer counters. They were moved to the edge of the festival in favour of the royal lounge and the tribune for the dignitaries. In 1860 the layout of the festival was three main streets and numerous side streets to handle the yearly increasing crowd. Today with around 350 companies, the Cannstatter Volksfest is the biggest carnival-festival worldwide. 4 to 5 million visitors are attracted to it.

King Wilhelm assigned his royal builder Nikolaus Thouret to create an emblem next to the royal lounge in the middle of the festival areal. He created the fruit pillar as a symbol for thanksgiving which is still the emblem of the Volksfest. Placed on top of the 23 m high pillar sits a bowl with fruits. Only the highest mobile Ferris wheels of the world is towering above it.

Today, the parade on the first festival Sunday is one of the most popular events of the Canstatter Volksfest. Nearly one hundred historical groups of town militia, Shepard-dancing-groups, festival wagons representing different crafts, groups dressed in traditional clothing and groups of musicians, create this colorful “Lindworm”. There are still groups in traditional clothes and professional period groups, which have taken part in the festival since 1841.

Based on the German article: "Fruchtsäule, Festzelt, Ferkel" by Wulf Wagner
Translated by Lewia Flournoy, Katja Freiler, Dirk Krause and Boris Michalski


The festival offers a variety of attractions ranging from booths to roller coasters, carousels, roundabouts and fairground rides. One of the largest attractions at the Cannstatter Volksfest is the world's largest mobile Ferris wheel
Ferris wheel
A Ferris wheel is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with passenger cars attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, the cars are kept upright, usually by gravity.Some of the largest and most modern Ferris wheels have cars mounted on...

 which measures 60 meters in diameter.

Fruit column

Symbolic of the Cannstatter Wasen is its "fruit column", a wooden pillar decorated with fruit, 26 metres high and weighing 3.5 tons. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, with the beginning of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, the fruit column was removed from the Cannstatter Wasen as it was considered a relic of the monarchy. Since 1935, the 100th anniversary, it has been back in its traditional place. Until recently the fruit column, the design of which has changed over the years, was dismantled after each Volksfest. Every few years it is redesigned. Since 1995 it has been left in place throughout the year and is thus also on display at the Stuttgart spring festival. In recent years only the tip has been dismantled leaving the lower portion in place housing information stands and the Cannstatter "city can".

Fairground rides

Typical rides include
  • 60 meter Ferris wheel (biggest mobile Ferris wheel in the world)
  • 47 metre Ferris wheel
  • Alpina roller coaster
  • Free fall "Powertower", height 66 meters
  • Imperator (weight: 350t)
  • Wild water coaster
  • "Wild mouse"
  • Airwulf carousel
  • Transformer carousel
  • Turboforce carousel
  • "Black Hole" indoor roller coaster
  • Boosters revolution

as well as 73 stands ranging from shooting galleries to raffles, some 95 food stands and a chandler's market with 60 market stalls and a boxing show.

Beer tents

Today, there are seven large beer tents on the Cannstatter Wasen for people to celebrate in. They either have their own name or carry the name of the brewery supplying the beer:
  • Schwaben Bräu
    Schwaben Bräu
    Schwaben Bräu is a brewery owned by Dinkelacker-Schwaben Bräu GmbH und Co. KG and located in Stuttgart, Germany. The company owns the largest brewery in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.- Products :...

     tent of Alexander Laub, remodeled in 2006 and now offering room for about 5200 people
  • Stuttgarter Hofbräu
    Stuttgarter Hofbräu
    Stuttgarter Hofbräu is a German brewery located in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg.It was established in 1872. It is the traditional beer of the city Stuttgart....

     tent of Hans-Peter Grandl, room for 5000
  • Dinkelacker
    Dinkelacker is a brand of German beer that is brewed in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg.The Dinkelacker brewery was founded by Carl Dinkelacker in Stuttgart's Tübinger Straße in 1888. The company still brews at that location. By the end of the 19th century Dinkelacker was the largest brewery in...

     tent of Dieter and Werner Klauss seating 4500 visitors
  • Fürstenberg tent
From 2000 to 2004, Walter Weitmann organized a tent with about 5000 seats for the Fürstenberg Brewery, which courted the other breweries' resentment by both its size and the origin (Fürstenberg is from Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

). In 2005, a smaller tent (room for 2800) run by Peter Brandl replaced Weitmann's.
  • Festzelt Göckelesmaier established in 1938 as Maiers Karle, renamed because of the roasted chicken (Swabian: Göckele) served there; seats 2500, also serves Stuttgarter Hofbräu beer
  • Festzelt Wasenwirt: room for 2200, Stuttgarter Hofbräu
  • Arcadia Erlebniszelt established in 2005; 1800 seats, an artificial waterfall and Dinkelacker brew

Since 1982 the tents of Laub, Grandl and Klauss have been located by the fruit column. Each tent takes it in turn to host the opening ceremony.
The price for a Maß
The is a term used in German-speaking countries for a unit of volume, now typically used only for measuring beer sold for immediate on-site consumption. In modern times, a is defined as exactly 1 litre....

is usually the same in all tents.

French Village and Alpine Village

For years the French village was an integral part of the Cannstatter Volksfest. By 2004, there were 33 food stands offering French meals and beverages along with traditional French music. The village was relaunched as an Alpine village in October 2008.


Traditionally a parade also takes place at the Wasen, usually on the first Sunday. In 1954 a record number of spectators attended the parade along the route from Stuttgart's central square
Schlossplatz, Stuttgart
Schlossplatz is the largest square in the centre of the city of Stuttgart and home to the New Castle which was built between 1746 and 1807....

 to the Wasen site: 300,000.


German Reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 is marked every year on the 3rd of October by a firework display.

Agriculture exhibition

Every three years an agricultural exhibition (Landwirtschaftliches Hauptfest) is included in the main celebration. This was the original Cannstatter Wasen Volksfest. Unlike the Volksfest, there is an entrance fee to visit the exhibition. The last exhibition of this kind was in 2006.


The festival is opened by a ceremony in which the incumbent Lord Mayor of Stuttgart
Wolfgang Schuster
Wolfgang Schuster has been the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart, Germany, since January 1997. He is the successor to Manfred Rommel and a member of the CDU.-Studies and early positions:...

 tries to tap the first barrel of beer with as few hits as possible. This takes place on a Friday in late September, so that the duration of the festival is actually 17 days.
  • 2009: 25 September – 11 October
  • 2010: 24 September – 10 October
  • 2011: 23 September - 09 October

Opening hours

The food stands and attractions are open between Monday and Friday from noon (beer tents from 11 am). Saturdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays everything opens at 11am. Closing hours are 11pm Sunday through Thursday; 11.30pm Friday, Saturday, and the day before Bank Holidays (although music is stopped at 11pm).


In Philadelphia (Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

) a Cannstatter Volkfest is celebrated each year on Labor Day
Labor Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.-History:...

, including German beer and food (
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