Culture, traditions and customs in upper Bavaria
Culture, traditions and customs have always enjoyed a high status in Bavaria. Our traditions go far beyond its more well-known representatives such as the Oktoberfest. May-pole set up, Johanni-Fire or Schafabtrieb are just a few traditional events, where you can experience the culture of Bavaria up close. You want to see how daring teams on previous equipment of mountain farmers plunge into the valley? Or attend the procession in honor of the horses? We are happy to tell you which cultural highlights await you here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen!
Between the end of January and mid-February, the Maschkera can be seen; the Werdenfelser answer to Kölle Alaaf – with many foolish events and lived customs. The so-called Maschkera, disguised people under carved wood masks, are the main actors of the Werdenfelser Fosanacht.
MAY-POLE SET UP
If you are planning to visit Bavaria in May you can look forward to pure tradition around the first day of May. Because at the beginning of spring, the traditional may-pole set up takes place. Accompanied by brass band music, food and drinks you can enjoy a get-together with the locals and cheer the performers. This special occasion demands pure muscle power and usually lasts several hours long.
MOUNTAIN FIRE / JOHANNI FIRE
Astronomical summer is traditionally heralded in June with large mountain fires, which are lit on the eve of St. John’s Day. Throw yourself into the longest night of the year and ask us for the most beautiful viewpoints. You may also want to attend the Sonnwend mountain fire – which can be seen in the Tyrolean Zugspitz Arena and which is, since 2010, included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Summertime equals beer-tent time. And because Garmisch and Partenkirchen were independent villages once, there are two festival weeks. Thus, the Garmisch Festival Week always starts on the last weekend in July and follows the Partenkirchner beer-tent in mid-August. There are not only different traditional costumes and old dances, but also Schuhplatter, Goaßlschnalzer, Steinheber and Co. In- and outdoor you will find Bavarian delicacies and various offers, from live bands to nostalgic swings.
“FISCHERSTECHEN” AT THE LAKE FESTIVAL
Every year on Maria Himmelfahrt, the 15th of August, the traditional Fischerstechen takes place in Seehausen am Staffelsee. In this contest, young boys from the village compete against each other in two boats to find out who is king of fishers. A funny spectacle, where some people sometimes even go overboard. All those who are left dry can look forward to a wonderful party in a special mood on the lake.
SCHAFABTRIEB – HOMECOMING OF THE SHEEP
Shepherds of local pasture cooperative gather their herds and drive them down into the valley after summer. Hundreds of Werdenfels mountain sheep traditionally come home in mid-September and are duly received. A special event that you can experience in both districts and that finds its highlight in the sheep award at the Garmisch Bischofseck.
The procession in honor of the horses takes place after the harvest season on November 6th and is accompanied by many festivities. Among the most famous Leonhardi rides are the parades in Kreuth, Bad Tölz, Benediktbeuren, Lenggries and Gmund. But also in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, festively decorated teams move from the Garmisch center to the Sebastian church in Partenkirchen.
HORN SLEIGH RACE
The horn carriage was formerly a working tool of mountain farmers. Today, brave teams race down the track every year on this vehicle on January 6th. Speeds up to 100 km/h are achieved. A sporting highlight that is known far beyond the country’s borders.