Never in my life did I think I would find myself in a traditional German Dirndl, surrounded by thousands of Germans, drinking pitchers beer for an entire day. That is exactly what ended up happening though, when I traveled to Munich, Germany for the first weekend of Springfest 2022. I have some German ancestry from way back when, so it was nice to finally see the place for myself.
Day 1: I was traveling with my friend Cassidy, and we booked a flight out of Copenhagen for Friday night since she had classes during the day. We left Copenhagen at 7:30pm and arrived at our Munich hostel close to 10pm, so we decided to call it a night and get some rest before the next day.
Day 2: Festival day was one of the longest days of my life, but in a good way. We woke up bright and early to pick out our traditional Dirndls from a rental store. By some miracle, the first Dirndl I tried on was a perfect fit (according to the German Outfitters employee), so I knew I had found the one. It took Cassidy and her friends a little longer to pick their favorites, but eventually everyone found a dress they felt comfortable in, and we made our way to the festival.
Being from Texas, I would describe Springfest as a German Rodeo. I know that not everyone will understand the atmosphere of either environment so to sum it up, picture fair grounds with tons of games, food, cultural outfits, and lots (and lots) of beer. Similar to a rodeo where people dress in flannels and boots, Springfest was filled with women in Dirndls, and men in Lederhosen. Instead of, at a Rodeo, where animals do tricks in tents, beer was the main event inside the Springfest tents.
We arrived close to 11am and met our friends at a table they had locked down as our headquarters for the day. The morning consisted of getting to know everyone around us, and becoming friendly with our waiters. I had my first German beer and pretzel around noon and they definitely did not disappoint.
Closer to 2pm, Cassidy and I ventured outside the tent to explore the fair grounds a little. We didn’t get too far because we were quickly distracted by chocolate covered strawberries and gingerbread cookies. The rides looked exciting, but we were not really in the mood for rollercoasters, so we opted to get some snacks instead.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the tent, where I happened to run into a mutual friend that I had met while visiting a school friend in New York last summer. It’s seriously such a small world, and Springfest found a way to bring that small world together.
Afternoon turned into evening, and before I knew it the band was playing a mix of German and American pop music. Everyone was dancing on top of the tables, and the atmosphere became even more lively than before. This vibe was exactly what I pictured when I tried to imagine Springfest, so I was happy to participate in dancing on tables to really enhance my cultural understanding of the German festival experience.
While the night continued for some people until 11pm, Cassidy and I decided to tap out closer to 9pm. I’d say 10 hours was a pretty substantial amount of time to spend in a beer hall, eating pretzels, and dancing in a Dirndl. We arrived back at the hostel around 9:30pm, immediately passed out, and didn’t wake up until 9am the next morning.
Day 3: Our first stop of the last day was to return the infamous Dirndls. The process was quick, and we went straight to brunch afterwards. Cassidy found a super cute restaurant where I got one of the best bagels I’ve ever had, and I was able to quickly recover from the day prior.
At this point, Cassidy decided it would be in her best interest to catch up on some school work, so she made her way to a nearby cafe. While I definitely had plenty of finals I could be studying for, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to pay a visit to the Dachau Concentration camp.
I ventured into the Munich metro on my own which sounds intimidating, but after a whole semester of European travel, I was no longer scared of public transportation. The trip involved taking two trains and a bus, but I eventually made it to Dachau.
Dachau was heavy from the moment I walked through the gate. Being Jewish myself, I could feel the weight that this concentration camp carried and it brought me to tears. The inside of buildings once used to torture my ancestors was now filled with pictures, videos, and short blurbs about the history of the very place I was standing. I took my time walking around the exhibits, but even just reading the walls was painful and uncomfortable. I was glad to have gone by myself and have this experience on my own, but it was definitely tough trying to gather my emotions in a place that held so much sadness.
When I returned back to Munich, I met up with Cassidy and her roommate to grab lunch before going to the airport. We stumbled upon a super trendy restaurant where we were able to eat plenty of veggies after the previous day filled with pretzels and beer.
We caught a late flight back to Copenhagen that night, and made it back just in time to prepare for a week full of finals back at DIS. Springfest was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had thus far, but I’m going to need a fair amount of time to recover before eating any more pretzels or drinking any more beer.