Every second year, Regensburg has a citywide party called Bürgerfest. The word Bürger translates to ‘citizen,’ which is why you can actually refer to residents of Hamburg as Hamburgers, a fact which will never stop being funny to me.
This weekend was the 40th Bürgerfest. I’m not actually clear on why it’s only 40 years, given that the city has been here since roughly the 12th century. I choose to believe that it’s honoring me, since I’m here for this one and I’m also 40 this year.
Bürgerfest closes down many of the main streets to traffic and for a three day span, Friday to Sunday, there are food tents, stages with bands all over the city, and weird street entertainment. I’m not kidding about stages all over the city, by the way- I kept finding them tucked into strange corners while walking through the city. According to the schedule, there are at least 25 stages. I’ll come back to the music later.
Many of the city’s restaurants have tents set up to sell their own ‘portable’ version of the food. Every restaurant and pub in town has their own Bürgerfest specials on offer.
The point of the festival is to celebrate the city and all of its sister cities. Regensburg is “twinned” with cities all over the world. Here’s the list of cities, as far as I know:
- Tempe Arizona, United States
- Aberdeen, Scotland
- Brixen, Italy
- Clermont-Ferrand, France
- Pilsen, Czech Republic
- Odessa, Ukraine
- Qingdao, China
- Budavar (part of Budapest, Hungary)
The twinned cities all have banners that are put up during the festival:
I took a whole lot of pictures of the strange street entertainment, but I’ll leave most of them out. Here’s a man on a unicycle juggling scimitars to tide you over.
…and i’m not really sure what this is. Heck, I’m not even entirely sure that the morphsuit is part of the entertainment. This might just be an unusually attired spectator…
Speaking of unusually attired, it’s not every day that you get followed down the street by an inflatable zombie bowling pin. I’m just sayin’.
One of the highlights to Bürgerfest is the tremendous variety of food available. For example,you can get tiny donuts or big donuts. The tiny ones are about the size of a quarter, from a stand called “Marge’s Mini Donuts.” I’m not even kidding. The big ones… well, they’re really big.
Also, this is Germany. That means there’s ice cream to be had. This would be true even without Bürgerfest, though. I’ve seen Germans eating ice cream at eighteen degrees below zero. It’s part of their cultural identity.
There’s also plenty of cultural food. For example, this is räuberspieß, which is basically meat and dough on a stick, deep fried in oil. It’s delicious and it looks like this:
When you’re done with your räuberspieß, hold onto the stick.
The stick is handy for fighting vampires. Also, it’s useful for navigating these crowds- if someone gets in your way, you can poke them in a non-critical organ and they’ll move out of the way.
By the way, here’s a helpful hint: Go early. The crowd in the picture above was around 7pm. The crowd in the picture below was closer to 1pm.
I mentioned the live music earlier. Sometimes it’s horrific pop/folk music. These two guys sounded a bit like they were gargling marbles to me.
These two were tucked into an alcove, and if not for the sound of the double-bass, I wouldn’t even have spotted them.
There’s also this type of band. Sometimes these are the best ones.
Lastly, but certainly not least, there’s plenty of beer to go around. This is Germany, after all. It’s not a party here without beer on tap.
Have you ever been to a Bürgerfest or a similar city festival? Does your city have twinned “sister cities?”