A galloping good time at the Landshuter Hochzeit! Photo:dpa

The preparations for some of the key players have been taking place for more than a half year. Nearly everyone wants to be a part of the action. The stages have been built, the traffic diverted. Even the people covering the events have been asked to ‘play the part’.

In a continent rarely devoid of festivals (this happens when you are over two millennia old), there are only a few which capture the color, the pageantry and the pulse of Europe without the obtuse tourism which is so prevalent in today’s world (though approximately 650,000 people will visit during the 3+ weeks of the festival’s run).

One such place it’s epitomized, though, is the Landshuter Hochzeit (June 28th-July 21st). It only occurs every 4 years, and this year promises to be epic.

In 1475, a large duke from Bavaria, literally, married a svelte princess from Poland in order to solidify the two kingdoms’ cooperation against the invading Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks were eventually repulsed and Catholic Bavaria and Poland were a bulwark against that invasion. The combined kingdoms were instrumental in the Turks’ defeat. So the Landshuter Hochzeit was born.  

The High Middle Ages take place every 4 years in Landshut, a short train ride from Munich. Photo:dpa
The High Middle Ages take place every 4 years in Landshut, a short train ride from Munich. Photo:dpa

Oktoberfest is also based upon the wedding of a Bavarian to another royal from afar – see a pattern here?   

Only the citizens of Landshut (around 2,000) and its environs are allowed to play the parts of blacksmiths, carpenters and other craftsmen during the festival. The Middle Ages are back in style, much to the delight of the visitors.The press is even asked to dress accordingly, as to not spoil the atmosphere. Hair is shoulder length for men, women longer, and the costumes are from the period.

Celebrating a duke's marriage, 5 centuries later.  Photo:dpa
Celebrating a duke’s marriage, 5 centuries later. Photo:dpa


From jousting to plenty of grilled dead animal, music and dancing, parades, revelry and imbibing of alcoholic beverages (beer drinking is encouraged!), the Landshuter Hochzeit is sure to leave any visitor who wants to see Europe the way it was (and still is), with a full belly, a buzzed head and a camera full of memories.

For more information see the website (in English) here.