Today I want to introduce you to one of the oldest and probably most unique festivals in Munich. The Kocherlball is held every year on the third Sunday in July in the English Garden.
The origin of the festival dates back to the 19th century when the servants of the wealthy houses in Munich met up to celebrate every sunday morning in summer. Since they still had to work later that day the party took place from 5 am to 8 am. In good weather up to 5.000 cooks (the name comes from the german word for cook), nannies, servants, etc. spend their morning dancing around the Chinese Tower. In 1904 the government abolished the ball for violating the rules of common morality and reintroduced it in 1989 to celebrate its 200 years of existence.
It may seem weird to meet so early to drink and dance, however I must say out of all the Bavarian beer festivals the Kocherlball has the most special vibe. If you want to make sure to get a table you should aim to arrive at the beer garden at around 4 am. It is incredible to walk through the dark park so early and the closer you come to the Chinese Tower the louder you will hear the voices of the people. On sunny days up to 15.000 visitors attend this festival so you can imagine how loud they are. The nice thing about Bavaria is that tradition still has a huge value to the inhabitants so the majority of the people dress up in lederhosen and dirndl.
There are mainly two kinds of visitors you will see. On the one hand you have the young party people who go out all night and afterwards come to the festival already having had plenty of drinks. On the other hand you have the older crowd who get up early and really celebrate this festival in the traditional way. Their tables are nicely decorated with tablecloths, chandeliers and a well prepared breakfast while the first steins with beer are already served.
The city hires two bands that play interchangeably from 6 am to 10 am. Since the event is very traditional the music is as well. The dances are a mix out of waltz, polka and several more Bavarian dances. In case you would like to go to the festival but have no idea how to dance this way, there is a course in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich every year on the last Thursday before the Kocherlball, which will teach you the basic steps. It is definitely worth having a go on the dance floor because this is one of the view beer festivals where it is not all about getting drunk but about honoring tradition and enjoying a morning dancing around in the beer garden.
Usually around 9 am the first people leave the celebration and at 10 am the visitors of the Kocherlball are mixing with the people who just want to enjoy their lunch at this place. If you happen to be in Munich on the third Sunday in July make sure you don't miss out on this historic event.