Superlatives need to be used with care. Who knows, maybe the largest (rice-)wine fest is celebrated in China, only we have not yet heard about it? (Just like we keep discovering new cities unheard of, with millions of people living there…) However, the city of Bad Dürkheim, where the Wurstmarkt takes place every 2nd and 3rd weekend of September, claims it to be the world’s largest – so let’s have it that way: 600.000 guests, 45.000 m2, 293 different wines, both still and sparkling, white and red.
The area for the fair is also home to the world’s largest (ooops) wine barrel. Built in the 1930s, this giant barrel (Riesenfass) has the capacity for 1.7 million liters of wine – but it was never filled. Instead, it has a restaurant inside and many tourists from around the world have visited it ever since…
Wurst = sausage. Didn’t I say wine fest? Well… it was in 1832, where the festival was first referred to as Wurstmarkt. The consumption of sausage is said to have been enormous that year and thus the new name was born for a fest that once started as pilgrimage to the St. Michaelsberg around 1150. Farmers would come to offer their produce to the pilgrims and later on followed the troubadours, etc. Today, part of the festival is a big funfair with lots of attractions for the entire family. The other part is… wine!, beer and sausage.
The soul of the festival are the so-called ‘Schubkärchler’ (wheelbarrows). 36 small tents with simple wooden benches and tables, fitting some 120 people/tent. Here, the wine will typically be served in the famous ‘Schoppenglas’, a half-liter glas. The atmosphere is always special, music and laughter filling the air. You better be quick – these stands are enormously popular and once the Pfälzer sits and celebrates………….
Then there is a nice wine village, where all is a bit finer and elegantly served. Sparkling wines are served here too. Definitely worth stopping by, let me tell you!
All wine served during the festivities is entirely from the local Bad Dürkheim wineries.
But no need to worry: if your friends insist on beer and a little more of ‘Oktoberfest-feeling’, there are a few bigger tents that offer room for some thousands of guests for that as well.
And since I could not say it any better, I took this from the official website: “As the local poet Karl Räder puts it:
The Wurstmarkt is the only festival where you meet old friends you have never seen before.”