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March: the champion among the festivals

World-class cultural highlights, top international cuisine, exclusive shopping worlds and spectacular surroundings: Munich has a lot to offer in every season of the year. Here you will find a few additional and individual ideas for each month of the year.

Party at Viktualienmarket: Tanz der Marktweiber

It’s one of the highlights of Munich’s carnival celebrations: Tanz der Marktweiber (Dance of the Market Women) at Viktualienmarkt. It takes place every year from 11 a.m. on the Tuesday of the carnival celebrations (Faschingsdienstag, the equivalent of Shrove Tuesday) and attracts hundreds of visitors, even in poor weather. The dance has been around since the early 1800s. Back then, the market women dressed up for the first time and danced in front of their stands at Viktualienmarkt. The dance became an official part of Munich’s carnival celebrations in 1987. Since then, 10 to 14 women wearing free flowing dresses have danced across the stage every year. They begin practising their dances as early as October. The costumes are in-your-face, eccentric and colourful, mirroring the dancers’ profession. For instance, vegetable sellers wear carrots and strawberries on the back of their outfit or hat. They dance to polka, Schlager (a special type of German pop) or the latest Oktoberfest hit. If you fancy showing off your own moves later on, follow the crowd to Stadtcafé on Sankt-Jakobs-Platz. Things get pretty crowded and a little hot and sweaty. Don’t forget your costume!

 

A fine kettle of fish: Month of the fish in Munich

The Isar River is not just for swimming in. The urban river is also home to a number of fish, including trout, perch, pike, carp and eel. March is fish month in Munich for good reason. First of all, the month marks the end of the close season for most species, including brown trout and fingerling. Secondly, the weeks leading up to Easter are part of lent, during which it is customary for Catholics to give up meat. On Good Friday – the high point and end of the fasting period – fish is an essential part of any meal. Any Bavarian eatery worth its salt is sure to have fish on its menu. Take Bachmair Hofbräu on Leopoldstrasse, for instance, or Wirtshaus zum Isartal on Brudermühlstrasse. If you are keen to try a traditional fish dish from the Franconia region, look no further than Gasthaus Siebenbrunn at Tierpark. Here, they serve baked carp, a true speciality.

The champion of festivals: A nice strong beer

While Oktoberfest may attract the masses, the local champion of Munich’s many festivals is the Starkbierfest (Strong Beer Festival) at Nockherberg. For three whole weeks, strong beer takes centre stage at this traditional tavern in Giesing. The Starkbierfest can be traced back to the Paulaner monks who once lived at Nockherberg. Because their canon required them to observe a strict period of fasting prior to Easter, they needed a beer that was particularly rich in vitamins and minerals to balance things out. Their Salvator brew has been dispensed since 1651. The 18th century then saw the introduction of the custom of inviting the Elector to tap the first barrel. Over time, this practice slowly led to the establishment of Starkbierfest. Nowadays, Nockherberg is famous across Germany, primarily for its tradition known as “Derblecken” which takes place on the opening day. Derblecken is a type of performance where a speaker – normally a cabaret artist – is invited to make fun of the guests present, especially any Bavarian politicians. Insiders judge the quality of the Derblecken by the number of callers who ring into the local radio station to complain afterwards. The more calls, the more cutting and pointed the speech.

More about this: Starkbier, Festbier, Hell, Dunkel, Pils, Ale: a beer typology of Munich's beers and the people who drink them.

 

 

Text: Nansen & Piccard; Photo: Christian Kasper