Zur Alpenregion Tegernsee Schliersee
Welcome to the Waldfest
If the key word ‘Bavaria’ makes you think of Oktoberfest, lederhosen, massive steins and roast pork ... then you’ve almost got it – but not quite. Beer festival clichés by their nature are overdrawn and magnify what seems exotic, when in truth a highly authentic and multifaceted tradition of outdoor festivals lies at the heart of the phenomenon. Forest festivals have been a stomping ground for young and old, a trysting place and summer highlight for hundreds of years, reaching back to pre-Christian rites. Today, they present the best of ancient customs including May poles, traditional dress, show booths and delicatessen from grilled fish to giant pretzels in a way that speaks to all generations, to families, couples, teenagers, after work party goers and senior citizens. They are a piece of old Bavaria and a hip ‘see and be seen’ hang-out all at once.
Much smaller and far more intimate than the Munich Oktoberfest, each of the forest festivals has its own special character – and the best thing: they take place all summer long.
The dirndl factor
The one asset that has helped traditional Bavarian costume to survive in modern times is its openness to change and to all its fans. Many ancient regional customs have been handed down and kept active, such as alpenhorn music or the feast days of various saints (don’t be surprised to find the shops closed on ‘Kirta’, the day when Catholic chapels receive their blessing). And even if dirndl and lederhosen are not worn by all Bavarians, you will spot them on a daily basis in the Tegernsee Valley, where they are loved as homely, practical and beautiful clothing for all sorts of occasions.
They are a definite fixture at the forest festivals around the lake. And you will find the locals very helpful when picking out just the right knee-length leather pants or Tegernsee dirndl and apron for you – or when showing you which way to tie its knot to reflect your marital status! On the festival grounds, the colourful skirts twirl in rhythm with the brass band, whilst the lads demonstrate an original ‘Schuplattler’ dance involving much slapping of shoe soles and buttocks. You will join the locals at long wooden tables laden with hearty snacks and one litre steins of freshly brewed festival beer, figure out when to say ‘du’ and, weather permitting, watch the moon come up over Mount Wallberg at the end of an unforgettable day.
Never to early for a weissbier
One Bavarian tradition that holiday makers from all over the world cherish is the so-called ‘Frühschoppen’. In the shade of chestnuts and beeches, its advocates will start the day with a breakfast of savoury white sausages with sweet mustard, pretzels – and a nice tall glass of weissbier. The hot midday hours should best be spent cooling down in one of the lake lidos or aboard a boat, before returning to roast chicken, potato and cucumber salad and more beer at one of the magical lake festivals.
Could there be any better way of spending a sunny Sunday in Bavaria?