If you enjoy spending your holiday supping on a wide variety of beers, then this guide will enlighten you of the greatest beer festivals around the world. Beer festivals are present in all corners of the world, ranging from the infamous Munich Oktoberfest in German to the Quingdao International Beer Festival in China.
The Munich Oktoberfest, Germany
Known by the locals as the Wies’n, this is the biggest public festival in the world. Around six million visitors attend annually to drink about five million litres of beer and consume more than 200,000 pork sausages. The huge Oktoberfest grounds also provide carousels and rollercoasters and festivities.
Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Ontario, Canada
This festival lasts for nine days and is located, unsurprisingly, throughout the Kitchener and Waterloo region. There are 18 separate Festhallen. Events include archery tournaments, bazaars, exhibitions, arts and crafts displays, farmers’ markets, barrel races, parades, museums and mountain bike events.
Qingdao International Beer Festival, China
This festival takes place over more than two weeks every July in Qingdao, China’s beer city, and home of the world-famous Tsingtao beer. The city is on the south-western tip of the Shandong peninsula, in eastern China on the Yellow Sea. It is one of China’s most popular summer beach spots.
Helsinki Beer Festival, Helsinki, Finland
This event attracts more than 20,000 beer aficionados over a three-day period. The festival features 400 different beers, 50 ciders and a selection of whiskies. There’s a popular competition for the best beer, cider and whisky. In addition to the main Finnish breweries, the festival features a large number of domestic microbrews.
Zythos Beer Festival, Sint Niklaas, Belgium
This mighty festival took over from the late lamented 24 Hours of Belgian Beer. Run by Zythos, the Belgian beer drinkers’ society, it takes place in a town not far from Antwerp and entrance is free. Then you pay one solitary euro per 15cl slurp of the 150 beers on offer.
Hastings Beer & Music Festival, Hastings, England
Originally part of the Hastings Carnival, which started life in 1982 in the Lower Park at Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex. The event featured local beers plus jazz bands, brought in to fund goodwill projects in the town. Now it attracts mostly tribute bands and punters from across Europe.
The Stockholm Beer Festival, Stockholm, Sweden
This is Scandinavia’s leading festival for beer, cider and whisky. About 500 different varieties of beer are available for the public to buy, enjoy and evaluate. As well as testing the hundreds of beers from all over the world, visitors can attend one of several ale appreciation classes on offer.
Real Ale Festival, Chicago, United States
This festival sprawls through Goose Island, Wrigleyville (directly across the street from the historic home of the Chicago Cubs). You’ll find great pub ambience and the perfect surroundings for quaffing 200 different beers from brewers all over America and Britain.
The Toronado, San Francisco, United States
One of San Francisco’s finest multi-tap ale houses has two annual week-long barley wine festivals. A panel of judges, including national experts in brewing, evaluates the beers. This is certainly the largest gathering of barley wines at a single tavern in the United States.
Cambridge Beer Festival, Cambridge, England
This six-day festival at Jesus Green has four bar areas, each specialising in a particular area of Britain – Northern England, Eastern England, Wales and Scotland, and Southern England. There are more than 120 beers and ciders, plus 114 cask beers.