Around The World In 10 Beer Festivals
Why let Oktoberfest have all the fun?
Oktoberfest is just around the corner, and that means beer o’clock! The German festival has spread itself global these days and you can even find celebrations in places like Bondi and Geelong. Beer isn’t just to be enjoyed in October, though, and we think that fans of a brew ought to be able to celebrate all year ‘round. (Some might say that they already do down at the pub, I guess). We’ve collected a year’s worth of our favourite beer festivals from around the world that are just begging to be sampled by travelling taste buds.
The Great Australian Beer Festival Geelong
When: February, 2016
Let’s start close to home with this impressive festival full of not only beer and ciders, but also food, music, cabaret acts, and comedy. Held annually at the Geelong Racecourse (the same site as the city’s Oktoberfest celebrations in October), The Great Australian Beer Festival continues to expand and as of 2015 had over 150 varieties of craft beers and ciders for attendees to try (for safety’s sake, hopefully not all in one day) and Australia’s largest alfresco beer garden.
The National Winter Ales Festival
When: February 17 – 20, 2016
Held in Derby during the cold winter months, this festival is run by the same people who organise The Great British Beer Festival in August. Given the time of year, they specialise heavily in old ales, porters, stouts, and barley wines which are all guaranteed to warm a patron up quite nicely. It’s a competition to find the “Champion Winter Beer of England” and considering Derby has been described by Lonely Planet as being “the best place to sample real ale in the world” you should pay attention.
#3 New Zealand
The Great Kiwi Beer Festival
When: April 2, 2016
It would be rude to not include our pals across the Tasman, wouldn’t it? Sadly the New Zealand Beer Festival took 2015 off and it’s unsure whether it will return to Auckland next year, too. However, Christchurch have their own “beerstravaganza”, which offers around 50 local companies like the Kereru Brewing Co. as well as internationals spread over 35,000 square metres. They even offer a discounted ticket price for designated drivers so that nobody misses out on the fun.
Mondial de la Bière
When: June 8 – 12, 2016
Known less formally as The Canadian Beer Festival is Mondial de la Bière, held annually in Montreal, having also expanded to France and Rio de Janeiro. Showcasing around 600 beers, entry is free for the 100,000 visitors who come along with tasting coupons bought for only $1 each. One tasting sessions will cost you anywhere from just two to six tokens.
Qingdao International Beer Festival
When: August 13 – 28, 2016
Asia’s biggest beer festival is even sometimes referred to as “Asia’s Oktoberfest” and is held at Sailing Beach in the Shandong Province. Running for a massive two weeks, this event started in 1991 as a part of the anniversary celebrations of Qingdao City’s 100th birthday and has grown into a giant carnival spectacle featuring grand opening and closing ceremonies, mascots representing the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, and a variety of food and entertainment.
The Belgian Beer Weekend
When: September 2016
Belgium’s Belgian Beer Weekend doesn’t have the scale of Germany’s, but it is nonetheless another weekend of beer greatness. It is dedicated to local brews produced by big and small breweries across the country with extra attention paid to the country’s famous white variety known as witbier. This weekend of festivities starts with the celebration of Saint-Arnould, saint of the brewers, and the blessing of the beer and continues with three days of festivities including parades and a strong focus on the history of Belgium. Plus, entry is free (the beer, however, is not).
The Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival
When: September and October 2016
This showcase for local Swedish breweries not only focuses on beer but also, as the name suggests, whisky too. Over two weekends the Swedish capital of Stockholm becomes the home to literally thousands of national and international beers and whiskies (it’s the largest whisky festival in the world and one of the three biggest beer festivals) in Nacka Strand, just 15 minutes from the Stockholm CBD by bus or eight minutes by picturesque ferry. Despite not having the long history of Oktoberfest, the organisers have a lease on their premises until 2031 so it’s not going anywhere.
#8 Czech Republic
When: 4 – 5 October 2016
Held in the beautiful town of Pilser, Pilsner Fest is the culmination of the summer season in the Czech Republic. This 200-year-old festival marks the date when the first brew of the now-famous Pilsner Lager was made way back 1842. The festival shows off the classic as well as the new and allows visitors to discover some of the country’s rich cultural history while indulging in a national treasure. Every year they attempt to break the record for number of people performing as a mass toast with their glass of amber.
The Great American Beer Festival
When: October 6 – 8, 2016
The benefit of attending this particular American festival as opposed to many others is the location. Unlike the previous two, getting to The Great American Beer Festivals offers visitors a chance to see Colorado, one of the most beautiful states in the whole country. Started in 1982 and held at the Denver Convention Centre, you’d be mad to not explore the region further once you’re done with this three-day event that offers over 2000 beers from more than 450 American breweries. There’s a reason this event holds a Guinness World Record for the largest variety of draft beers.
#10 South Africa
Cape Town Festival of Beer
When: November 25 – 27 , 2016
Australia is pipped for the title of the largest beer festival in the southern hemisphere by this three-day South African festival that offers more than 200 beers from 60 breweries. Cape Town’s festival even includes the added bonus of featuring limited edition beers that can only be tasted exclusively at the festival, plus local African beers that rarely find their way to local shelves. And because it seems silly to not offer it, you can enjoy a beer and watch the rugby live on the festival’s big screen.