Someone told us recently that their favourite thing about Stuttgart is the festivals. From now into the next few months, Stuttgart hosts its fair share of fests, including a beer festival that is next to Oktoberfest in size. Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest, which began this week, is apparently the biggest Spring festival in Europe. As European-sized weekend crowds are something we’re not yet accustomed to (and try to avoid at all costs) Tony took the bold step of a day off work so we could see the blessed event for ourselves.

Frühlingsfest might best be described as a cross between Australia’s Wonderland and a day at your local German club. Rides of every acrobatic formation, a giant beer stein turning gracefully on a roof, and everywhere touches of Swabian culture at its festive best. Carnivals are bizarre places at the best of times. Wandering amongst neon signs bearing half-naked women and monstrous plastic ghosts, I had the strangest feeling of being somewhere familiar, and yet different. The exaggerated weirdness of it all dredged up memories of Bhaktin’s theory of “the carnivalesque” and Baudrillards “hyperreality” from English literature at Uni. “The carnivalesque” applies to any situation where the order of things is temporarily turned upside down (Alice in Wonderland is a classic example) and all social norms are abandoned for a short while. I couldn’t help wondering whether my sense of disorientation was because I don’t yet understand the social norms of Germany in the first place. One striking difference I did notice. While the sideshow alleys and ghost trains looked just like those I grew up with at the Camden Show, German “carnies” are much more polite than their Aussie counterparts. No jeering as you walk past, no shouts of “Come on, win your girlfriend a big teddy like a man!”

Tony and I had done some research and were in pursuit of some crispy pork knuckle, apparently the gastronomic highlight of the festival. Having found our seats, ordered our meals from a lederhosen-clad waiter and paid the princely sum of twenty Euros, imagine our dismay when we were served… chicken. Who would have thought Göckele did not mean “knuckle” but some version of “chicken”? This was a blow not easily recovered from. But as we wandered among the garish sideshow stands and strange German-themed tableau (the highlight being taxidermied animals), we couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief at being so far from home in so absurd a place. Thankfully, the chicken was thoroughly tasty!


1 Response to “Frühlingsfest”

  1. 1 kerentravels April 23, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Those gingerbread hearts taste amazing – Jen and I bought some at Oktoberfest

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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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