The Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt, referred to as Bad Dürkheim Wine Fest in English, is a very fun event to attend. As the biggest wine festival in the world, it attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year!
Here are some important tips for first-timers that may help you avoid a tricky situation or a massive hangover.
1. Take the train
The fest has limited parking. You can typically find a spot if you arrive in the morning or early afternoon, but it tends to fill up later in the day. In addition, you may be stuck in slow traffic trying to leave the festival later.
The train is a quick and cost-effective alternative that drops you off about a five-minute walk from the fest. If coming from the Kaiserslautern area, you must switch trains once at Neustadt (Weinstraße) — an easy transfer over to platform 1a.
You can buy a day ticket (VRN Tages-Karte) for groups of up to five people — for reference, it costs approximately €23 for the two of us, which includes our roundtrip train travel and bus travel between the train station and our house, so nobody has to be the designated driver. You can purchase this via the app and use the Handy-Ticket (your phone), or from a kiosk at the train station and receive a paper ticket (don’t lose it!).
Worried about navigating to the fest from the train station? Don’t be. Just follow the crowds.
2. Let them make it a “schorle”
When you order a wine, the person pouring it will likely ask if you’d like a “schorle.” A weinschorle is approximately half wine, half sparkling water — although heavy pours at Bad Dürkheim are typically more like three-quarters wine and a quarter sparking water.
Take the schorle! It’s not uncommon for a first-timer to take straight wine instead, because who wants watered-down wine, right? That watered-down wine is what will save you from becoming belligerent and waking up in the medic tent. We have encountered too many people being carried out on stretchers, vomiting into trash cans or the ground, or passed out next to a wine stand.
The glasses at Bad Dürkheim are a half-liter, so after finishing two glasses you’ve finished more than a full bottle of strong wine. Drinking the schorle allows you to pace yourself and enjoy a couple (or a few) glasses without ending up on the floor or nursing a major hangover the following day. The water also helps keep you hydrated, which brings me to my next point.
3. Bring still water, if you want it
Still (non-sparkling) water is hard to find at the fest, and it’s important to stay hydrated when enjoying numerous drinks and potentially dancing on top of fest tables and working up a sweat.
We always bring at least one large bottle of water and ensure we finish it throughout our time at the fest. You may buy sparkling water at the wine stands, if you’d like, but I have yet to find still water available.
4. Bring euros, all the euros!
There are a couple ATMs at the fest, but the lines can be quite long. Also, one year there was an ATM that didn’t accept Visa cards. It’s best to come prepared and have cash on-hand.
For planning purposes, rides are around €3-7 each, weinschorles are around €5 each (plus a €3 Pfand which you get back if you return the glass to the stand you got it from), and all of the bathrooms cost €0.50.
5. Don’t rely on your phone
It’s likely your phone will stop working during the fest due to the amount of people there. Every year I have attended the fest, my phone has completely stopped working in terms of data, texts and calls. It really depends on your cell provider, but just be aware of this possibility.
Try not to get separated from your friends without an established meeting point, or you may have difficulty reaching one another to reunite. Screenshot the train schedule ahead of time so you don’t have to rely on your mobile data to pull it up later in the night.
6. Go earlier to avoid crowds
If you dislike crowds, you probably don’t want to be at this fest after sundown.
During the day, it’s crowded but manageable. You can move around and find spaces to sit down with ease. As it gets later in the evening, the crowds become insane (on a weekend, at least). By the end of the night, it’s truly a struggle to walk from one area to another as you must push through massive crowds.
We’ve found that we really enjoy spending the majority of our time there during the day and leaving as it starts getting unruly.
7. Leave the Michael Kors flats at home
Your feet may (and most likely will) get stepped on or spilled on, so don’t wear your cutest, most expensive shoes. Wear something that is comfortable and can get a little dirty. I advise against wedges, booties or heels if you plan on dancing on the tables (which you should, for the experience). My shoes always look horrendous after a night at the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt.
8. Don’t take the last train home
Trust me on this one. The last train home is packed as full as possible with some people sick and vomiting. We have even witnessed people getting left behind on the platform because we couldn’t cram another body on the train.
If you get left behind, you’ll be looking at an expensive taxi ride or a bus that takes multiple hours. Anything after the 12:38 a.m. train, we try to avoid. Also, give yourself enough time at the station to wait in line to purchase tickets at the kiosk — or buy the Tages-Karte mentioned above.
Most importantly, have a wonderful time. This fest is a must-do for anyone living in Germany — there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world!