The world’s largest wine festival takes place every year in the German town of Bad Dürkheim. Wurstmarkt has been going for almost 600 years and every year attracts around 600,000 visitors.
Wurstmarkt literally translates as 'sausage market' but the focus of this particular festival is in showing off the wine produced in this lush region of Rhineland-Palatinate, known as the “Weinstrasse”.
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the most romantic and beautiful regions of Germany, and its popularity with tourists means there is a good variety of holiday accommodation to choose from.
A Saintly Pursuit
In the 12th century, farmers and wine growers began to gather to sell their produce to the pilgrims heading towards the chapel on top of a nearby mountain, Michaelsberg. By 1417, the event was known as Michaelismarkt and over the next few centuries, it grew into a three-day fair. It was first called Wurstmarkt in 1832, simply because a large number of sausages were sold during the fair – the name stuck!
Today Wurstmarkt features displays and exhibitions of the region’s wine along with, of course, sausages, and the festival atmosphere is helped by the fairs that ply their trade during the event, which takes place during the second and third weeks of September every year. The 2014 Wurstmarkt is on in two stages this year, from 12th to 16th September, and then again from 19th to 22nd September.
The main stage for Wurstmarkt is Bad Dürkehim’s Pfalz but there are 50 different places where visitors can sample more than 150 different wines. If you’re planning to visit Bad Dürkheim, the ideal situation is to book your Wurstmarkt holiday accommodation well in advance but you’ll find the quality of accommodation to a very high standard.
Raise a Glass
Only wine and sparkling wine made in Bad Dürkheim is served at the Wurstmarkt and the entire town is turned over to the festival with a host of venues in which visitors can sample the local wine and tuck into a sausage or two, too. Among the most popular are the two wine halls and a beer hall, open all day and featuring live entertainment.
Quieter venues include the 36 historic Schubkärchler – small wine tents filled with smooth wooden tables and benches on which wine has been served for decades. Each tent can hold up to 120 people.
Local wineries fill the Wine Village and offer the very best wines from their cellars. Hand-shaken sparkling wines are among the most surprising varieties available to be sampled.
And the Winegrowers’ Garden is a must for anyone keen to enjoy a glass in the sunshine. Its courtyard setting has both covered and open-air seating while a beautiful light installation casts an atmospheric glow upon proceedings. The great thing about finding Wurstmarkt holiday accommodation is that you can happily sample as much of the local produce as you like without having to worry about driving back to your base.
And a must-do experience is to follow in the footsteps of generations of pilgrims and walk to St Michael’s Chapel (Michaelskapelle), which sits atop Michaelsberg. From the mountaintop, enjoy the views of Bad Dürkheim and the Wurstmarkt.
Photo courtesy of Sebastian Monzel