Every May for one week only, the closest city to the German’s hometown, Osnabrück is transformed into a strawberry heaven that is called Maiwoche. Literally translated, this means May Week and the place goes mad. It’s the only city in Germany that has this ‘Volksfest’ which, translated means people’s festival and it’s the largest ‘Volksfest’ in the whole of Germany – wowzers! When I asked the German what the reason was behind it was instead of giving me the answer I was expecting like ‘it’s to celebrate the start of spring’ or something similar, his answer was ‘it’s just an excuse to meet friends and drink.’ Typical German there!
Now, the German first introduced me to Maiwoche a couple of years ago, on the afternoon of our last day in Germany, just hours before we had to head to the airport to catch our plane back to the UK. This was an epic fail on his part (or maybe he planned it that way?) and I nicely asked him to take me to it the following year as I’d missed out on all the fun but instead he decided to get a promotion at work and we moved to America. Shucks.
Anyway, it would appear we planned our wedding well, the week before the big day was indeed Maiwoche! You can imagine my excitement when I figured this out – my time had come to sample the delights of this thing and tell you all about it. So here goes…we’ll start with a few pictures:
So, Maiwoche is a little like a Christmas market but in May. It has the usual little stalls and stands but it has a spring feel. It’s only in Osnabrück for one week and in between planning a wedding and welcoming our guests I managed to visit this thing 3 times and the German 4. I think we did well, we were there within hours of stepping off the plane!
So, the aim of the game is to meet friends, chat, stroll around the stalls, listen to some live music, fill yourself full of tasty delights and this being Germany, there is obviously a few drinks involved! Instead of the warming Glühwein that’s sipped at the Christmas markets in Germany during December there’s a lovely little number called Maibowle instead – see the picture above and the huge smile I have on my face, believe me that stuff is good!
So, strawberries are the center of this tasty drink, basically you mix sparking wine with brandy and sugar, add a load of strawberries that have been soaked in the stuff for a long time and you are definitely onto a winner. I’m thinking there’s some sort of colouring in there too to make it red? At this point during the week I was in a carb-free zone to fit into THE dress so the strawberries fitted into the diet well, despite the huge amount of alcohol they came with!
This thing does have a few other differences from your standard Christmas market, for a start there are the flying chairs that people seem to like to get on after having a few drinks…! The Maypoles, the live music, the carousel bar (it’s basically an old carousel that’s been turned into a bar, it moves and everything!) and the party tent. Yes, you read that right, a section of the city centre is turned into a tent where music and partying takes place all night, accompanied by some Maibowles, beers and of course shots. Those Germans definitely know how to sink some drinks and party but without looking completely trashed like the Brits…I’m still intrigued as to how they do that!
Back to Maiwoche! Sadly the weather wasn’t too good this year, it was a little cold (although I couldn’t decide if that was because we’d been basking in 80 degree heat in Atlanta the previous week) and it rained a few times so we had to find shelter either in the tent or under one of the beer stalls (again, shucks) so it wasn’t overly busy but there was still a good, fun atmosphere and the drinks were definitely flowing!
We also can’t forget the snacks. The German was so excited to get his fill of German goodness at Maiwoche – I think within minutes of hitting the stalls and getting a drink the man was itching to get to the Bratwurst stand for a sausage! I think he ate at least 2 or maybe 3 on every visit. So, apart from the traditional Bratwurst, Krakauer and Kasewurst (cheese sausage) there is every other treat you can imagine – Gyros, another favourite of the German, steak sandwiches, Kartoffelpuffer (deep fried potato, a little like a hash brown), deep fried fish, roasted salmon, caramalised almonds, gingerbread and every other German treat you can imagine. Being on the carb free I need to fit into a wedding dress at the weekend diet I had to choose wisely – I went for a bratwurst without the bread and some mushrooms with a garlic mayo – just amazing! Obviously I took you guys a few pictures…
Maiwoche was definitely a big hit with me, my parents and every other Brit we managed to take there during the week we were in Germany! It’s obviously huge with the locals too, one of our nieces who lives in Osnabrück says she went nearly every night! I don’t blame her either – I think I would too given the chance. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it next year but I’m sure we’ll be back to Maiwoche at some point in the future! If you’re thinking of heading to that part of Germany, make sure you plan your trip to include a visit – I can assure you won’t be disappointed!