The Bergkirchweih starts every Thursday before pentecost at 5PM. The opening ceremony called "Anstich," which is carried out by the City's Mayor, takes place in a different beer cellar every year, with thousands gathering to watch the opening spectacle with a huge fight for beer. Twelve days later the last beer barrel is burried in the cellar where the next Anstich will take place. The Bergkirchweih area is located in the northern extremities of downtown Erlangen and roughly a kilometer long (0.6mi). With its beer cellars, booths and rides and its huge ferris wheel, which is the berch's traditional landmark, it is a festival for the whole family, no matter how young or old.
With its ale-benches under linden, chestnuts and oaks it is the biggest Open-Air-Biergarten of Europe with more than 11,000 seats.
The Bergkirchweih has taken place since 1755. Nowadays the time when the fair takes place is called the "fifth season". Due to the fact that Erlangen has one of the best universities in Germany and houses Siemens, many families and people move in and out. The Bergkirchweih is often the only chance for old friends, fellows or colleagues to meet again, resulting in the visit of roughly a million people - roughly ten times the town's population - for the event. The Bergkirchweih is the third biggest fair in Bavaria after the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Gäubodenfest in Straubing.
Most people that have been to the Bergkirchweih once in their life-time say that it is much better than the Oktoberfest and don't want to miss it ever again.
This page was translated from the German Wikipedia page which can be found here:
During the Bergkirchweih season you can find various Photos and Web-Cams, Bulletins and other links regarding the Bergkirchweih. The rest of the year the page hosts a countdown till the next Anstich. (The Link contains a lot of ads and is in German)
- http://www.bergkirchweih.de/ Alternative (also in German)