Visitors to this world-famous orgy of beer drinking will be aware that despite the large number of “tents” (temporary halls would be a more accurate description), only the six brewers based in the city are allowed to sell their beers at Oktoberfest. Contrast this with CAMRA’s forthcoming Great British Beer Festival where there will be getting on for 800 different beers to choose from and you get an idea of just how different festivals are in Germany compared to the UK. Whilst British beers festivals are about sampling as many different beers as possible, German beer festivals are about having a good time, with some serious drinking as an essential accompaniment, of course, and this is how I would describe Annafest.
Although pilgrims had been journeying to a nearby chapel consecrated to St. Anna since the early 16th Century, Annafest in its present form began in 1840, when the Forchheim shooting club moved its main shooting ground from the "shooting meadow" on the river Regnitz to the Kellerwald. As well as plenty of beer drinking there are other attractions such as fairground rides, various stalls, plus six stages which feature a wide range of different musical acts. The local Forchheim breweries Hebendanz, Greif, Eichhorn and Neder all brew a strong Bock beer especially for this festival, the so-called Annafestbier, and a number of other local breweries also supply brews of their own as well.
With seating for about 30.000 people, the Kellerwald provides sufficient accommodation for the 450.000 - 500.000 visitors who come each year over the course of the 10-day festival period. A regular shuttle bus service is provided from the town and surrounding areas to the Kellerwald and back again, so getting to the festival is not a problem. For those of a more energetic disposition, it is not that far to walk up from the town and many people choose to do this, working up a king-sized thirst on the way!
One comment I have seen sums up the whole event quite nicely. "A great atmosphere and very cool location, in the woods above the town. It's everything the Oktoberfest isn't: cool woodland beer gardens instead of hot, smelly tents."