Beer, Schlager, and Tracht: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Regensburg Dult Festival
The Volksfest Dult is Regensburg’s biannual beer festival, which takes place on Dultplatz — the local fairground — for just over two weeks in May (Maidult), marking the symbolic transition to the warmer season, and correspondingly, it also closes out the summer in late August and early September (Herbstdult). You can think of it as a sort of scaled-down version of Oktoberfest.
Although the Dult is primarily a beer festival, it is a fun time to get together and have a good laugh, and it offers plenty of other options for shopping, eating, and enjoying yourself that do not involve drinking beer.
In order to get the most authentic experience, here is a step-by-step guide to mastering the essential Dult rituals, including pre- and post-festival, to help you prepare for your first and future visits:
Step 1 (before): buy a Tracht —dirndl or lederhosen.
If you have been looking for an excuse to purchase a traditional Bavarian costume, the Dult season is an excellent reason to do so. The majority of people attending the festival come adorned to some extent in Tracht or Tracht accessories.
Typically you will find the men in lederhosen and the women a dirndl, but some women also choose to wear lederhosen of varying length. The price of the costumes can vary greatly, depending on the style and where you bought them. Remember, buying Tracht is an investment, and it’s something you can wear over and over again.
Those not wanting to spend a great deal can look around in some of the chain discount stores; they often have less expensive sets. Another thrifty bet is to check second-hand stores or online auctions for used ones. The earlier before the festival season you start to look, the better your chances of finding a great offer.
Step 2 (before): book a table in one of the beer tents/party tents (Bierzelte/Festzelte).
The opening day and the weekends during the Dult season can get very crowded. In order to get guaranteed seating at a table in one of the beer tents, making a reservation in advance for groups is strongly suggested. The two tents are the Hahnzelt and the Glöcklzelt.
For those of you who do not like beer, there is also a dedicated area for wine, called the Bauer Weinstadl.
Step 3 (before): check the program.
If you want to save a bit of money, it is a good idea to check the program beforehand, as there are several special-interest days offering discount deals. Normally one day during the week is called Family Day, as most food stalls and rides offer reduced prices in the afternoon. There’s also an evening for the ladies featuring discount prices and other special offers.
You may also want to check the program to see which musical acts will be performing and in which tents to see if something fits your interests.
Step 4 (before): invite your coworkers, friends, and family.
One of the greatest things about the Dult is how social it is. People might stay locked up at home during the winter, but most people are willing, even more than happy, to venture out for a night on the fairground. This is usually a great chance to get to know your coworkers better, and if you have friends or family who want to visit Germany, this is a prime opportunity to show them a bit of traditional Bavarian culture.
Step 5 (opening day): watch the kick-off parade.
Dult is kicked off on the opening night by an official parade leading through the city. The parade usually begins on Maximilianstraße, crosses the bridge, and finally arrives on the festival grounds, where the city mayor (Oberbürgermeister) taps the first barrel (Fassanstich) and the Dult can officially begin.
Step 6 (opening and closing Friday): watch the fireworks.
Fireworks light up the sky around 22:00 on the opening and closing Friday, lasting normally about 10 to 15 minutes. The best location to see the fireworks is hotly disputed. Some prefer the fairground itself while others have favorite points to watch from afar.
Step 7 (on the fairground): take a ride on the Ferris wheel, or play a game.
The 55-meter Ferris wheel is one of the tamer, but definitely eye-catching rides on the fairground. Taking a spin provides a scenic view of the city and nice photo opportunities, depending on the weather.
There are also other rides onsite to satisfy a variety of thrill-seekers. Be sure to time your beer and food consumption before going on one of the rides that go all the way round in order to avoid any unpleasant aftereffects.
For those less inclined to wilder rides, there are also some calmer games and funhouses to try.
Step 8 (in the beer tents): order a liter of beer (Mass) … and repeat!
This is a rather simple step — order a Mass of beer, drink up, and repeat as desired. Watch in awe as the waiters and waitresses appear to effortlessly lug the one-liter beer steins from table to table.
Step 9 (in the Hahnzelt): climb the maypole (Maibaum or Dultbaum).
Want to earn your respect of the fellow Dult attendees? Then try to climb the pole in the middle of Hahnzelt! Those who successfully make it to the top and ring the bells are rewarded with a voucher, usually for a free beer. Just make sure you are wearing proper attire before attempting this feat, so you avoid any unnecessary friction burns from the wooden pole.
Step 10 (the beer tents): listen to Schlager music and dance on the benches.
Depending on when you go, there is either live music or a soundtrack being played in the tents to enhance the festival atmosphere. If you are lucky, you will have an authentic Dult experience by hearing some classic German Schlager (semi-cheesy, German-language pop hits) or even a Bavarian brass band. Don’t be afraid to get up on the benches (not on the table, though!) and dance it out a bit.
Step 11 (on the fairground): eat something!
After all the beer drinking, dancing on the benches to Schlager music, and climbing the maypole, you will certainly have worked up an appetite! Grab a pretzel or two (Brezen) and some Allgäu Emmental Cheese (Allgäuer Emmentaler Käse) or half a meter of Bratwurst.
On your way out, you might want to end on a sweet note by picking up a Nutella-filled crepe, or some chocolate-covered fruit.
Final step (after): repeat next year!
Gabrielle Byko is an international communication professional who has a passion for world travel and experiencing international culture exchange in all of its forms. Gabrielle is our Local Reporter in Regensburg.
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