People ask me all the time when is the best time to visit Munich. My answer is different depending on what I believe the person wants to see and do. A lot of people aren’t that interested in actual sightseeing and instead want experiences with the culture. In Munich’s case we are talking about Bavarian culture which is the origin of nearly every stereotype foreigners have of Germans. The lederhosen, dirndls, one liter beers, and brass bands are all local to this region and worth planning for specific times of the year so you can experience it in its full force.
For a full list of all the volksfests (people’s festivals) have a look here: Volksfests in Munich.
In my opinion, these are the festivals that are the most impressive:
Fasching (February) – The Bavarian version of Mardi Gras or Carnival, it has the same dates as in Rio or New Orleans, just with a Southern German twist.
Starkbierfest (March) – The strong beer festival takes place in the Paulaner am Nockherberg and the Löwenbräu Keller. It’s a similar atmosphere to the inside of the tents at the Oktoberfest, but with stronger beer and less tourists.
Frühlingsfest (spring festival) (April-May) – Munich’s spring festival is on the Oktoberfest grounds and is kind of like a miniature version of the Oktoberfest, but with a younger feel.
Stadtgründungsfest (city founding festival) (June) – The city founding festival takes over the pedestrian streets of central Munich with stages, craft stalls, and food at every turn.
Summer Tollwood (June-July) – Somewhere between a high end hippie festival and a pop music festival, this takes place at the extreme southern end of the Olympic park.
Sommerfestival Olympiapark (August) – At the sommerfestival you will find music, food, and fireworks at the Olympic park.
Oktoberfest (September-October) – I believe this one speaks for itself. Note that the majority of the festival is held in September each year.
Winter Tollwood (November-December) – The winter tollwood festival takes place at the same time as the Christmas markets, but is more of a venue for German-language shows and concerts than it is a Christmas market. It is held at the Northern tip of the Oktoberfest grounds in a series of heated tents. Also on site are tents with commercial stalls for those that want to go shopping with a festive spirit.
Christmas markets (November-December) – The Munich Christmas markets are held in various parts of town with the main section being directly at Marienplatz, the city center.