Bad Duerkheim hosts annual wine fest

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The traditional “Wurstmarkt,” known as the world’s biggest wine fest, starts today only 20  miles east of Kaiserslautern.

 For the 593rd time, the event takes place in Bad Dürkheim on the German Wine Street. The traditional wine fest includes a carnival that each year lures more than 600,000 visitors from throughout Germany and Europe.

The event is celebrated on the town’s fest grounds in two parts: from today through Tuesday and from Sept. 18 to 21. It features a large amusement park with rides, food and candy booths, fest tents and a wine village with wine tents. There will also be two fireworks displays at 9 p.m. Tuesday and Sept. 21.

The Wurstmarkt, or sausage fair, is more than 500 years old.

It received its name from the fact that early fest goers ate enormous amounts of sausage during the event in the first part of the 19th century.

The main attractions of the fest are 36 little wine tents called “Schubkärchler,” or wheelbarrows, because vintners rolled wine barrels on wheelbarrows up to Michelsberg hill to quench the pilgrims’ thirst in the 15th century.

Each year at the end of September, pilgrims visited the little chapel on top of the hill, which resulted in market activities with many vendors selling their goods on the hill and along the streets leading up to the chapel. When church dignitaries no longer accepted this type of pilgrimage, market activities were relocated to the bottom of Michelsberg and the “sausage fair” was born.

While vendors lost in importance throughout the years, amusement features became more and more important. In 1830, there was a circus, fire-eater, puppet theater, riding school, showmen and musicians.

In 1910, city officials decided to celebrate the fest earlier in September because of better weather. In 1926, the Wurstmarkt got extended by a day, in 1951 by seven, and finally in 1965, the fest was extended by eight days.

During World War II, the event didn’t take place, and after the war, in 1947, a fall fest was celebrated instead. In 1948, there was a fish market due to the lack of meat. Vendors sold fish sandwiches and fish wurst. On top of that, each visitor was allowed only one bottle of wine.

The first regular Wurstmarkt after the war took place in 1949.

The fest officially starts at 5:30 p.m. today with an opening parade leading from the Kurhaus to the festival grounds. The festival grounds are located near the “Dürkheimer Fass,” the biggest wine barrel in the world that houses a restaurant. It could hold 1.7 million liters of wine.

The wine tents will open at 10 a.m. each day. Visit for more information.

The German railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, offer rides from Kaiserslautern to Bad Dürkheim every 30 minutes until 8 p.m. The trains then travel every hour and passengers have to change trains in Neustadt.

Deutsche Bahn offers the VRN Ticket 24 for individual travelers for €13.50 or the Ticket 24+ for two to five passengers for €19.50. Tickets are available at the ticket machines at the train station.