Each time I attend a new festival in Germany I am always under the assumption that it will be exactly like all the other festivals; rides, games, people in traditional bavarian clothing, beer tents, sausage, music, big pretzels, and port-o-johns. They always make for a fun evening, but not always an outstanding evening…
And then I went to the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen. It was Awesome. (Pretend I sang the word awesome in an annoying high pitch tone to emphasize just how awesome it was.) In German Berg means Mountain, Kirch means Church, and Weih means Votive. Put them together and you’ve got, something that grossly translates to vigil to celebrate the church on the mountain…maybe. (honestly I just made that up based on my vocabulary knowledge)
Phil’s out of town.
Ludwig was fishing far away.
Catharina and I went by ourselves. We met my friend Ulla there. She lives near Erlangen. If she hadn’t invited me, I never would have known this gem of a festival exists…let alone have gone there.
It ended up being a bit of a drive from our house, and then I got us lost trying to find parking, so it took even longer. I’m glad we got lost though, because we parked on the farther side of the mountain. We had a lovely walk to the festival on a toe path that led through woods, a bit down the mountain, then a bit back up the mountain on handmade steps, and past the train tracks that run through the mountain. All of the stone that made the tunnel was covered in a bright green moss, and it was getting later in the day so the sun was shining beautifully, and the air was a bit crisp and delicious. The combination gave me one of those “I’m really gonna miss this place when I have to leave” kind of feelings.
Our walk led us to the western tip of the festival and the big music tent. A band was already in full swing and the tent was glowing dark orange from the paper lanterns strung up to it’s ceiling. Forget all of the insanely drunk teenagers in line to use the bathroom and it was truly charming. The theme of paper lanterns and strung-up lights through the trees continued through the entire festival as it wound around the side of the mountain.
Yes, this festival has rides and carnival games, and plenty of food trucks; but it also has little bungalows, tree houses, large decks, and cellars set up along to path; each serving a variety of libations and live music. I thought the scene was an impressive blend of what I’ve come to expect from a festival mixed with nature, and more of a cozy atmosphere. You want to sit under a tree and chat with your friends, as much as you want to dance in front a band on stage, as much as you wish your husband was with you to kiss you under the night lights, as much as you want to eat the biggest pretzel you’ve ever seen, as much as you want to ride the ferris wheel.
And ride the ferris wheel we did. Catharina had a wonderful time also. She even got on the ferris wheel! She’s spunky, but I was surprised. A ferris wheel is high, and she has to hold my hand just to cross a busy intersection. I don’t know if it was the beer, or the ambiance of the evening sun, but something inspired her to go for it. Despite the fact that every major city in Europe has one, and every festival has one; I haven’t ridden a ferris wheel in years. (and I bet Catharina hasn’t either) I couldn’t be more happy that we did. It was fabulous to cruise through the open air, getting a bird’s eye view of the festival and the rest of the surrounding city.
It was a night that I didn’t want to end.
Have you not been? You need to go. You can find all of the information you need by clicking my link above or find Berch on the FB.
Enjoy your weekend…where ever you are.