Annafest is an annual bash held in the Kellerwald, a lush hilly area outside of Forchheim renowned for Bierkellers. Though some of the Kellers are open year round, the area really comes to life around July 26th in celebration of St. Anna. The festival has a long lineage, dating back to 1840. After a two-year COVID induced hiatus, Annafest returned in 2022 to unsurprisingly big crowds. In 2024, it runs from July 26th to August 5th.
a traditional parade heralds the beginning of Annafest in Forchheim’s Kellerwald
The festival has a bit of a dual personality. During the day, it’s a family friendly carnival of sorts, with amusement rides for the kiddies and typical Bavarian folk festival snacks and festivities for all. Aside from the eat on the run options, the Kellers all serve up more hearty meals at fair prices. At night, there are concerts and the atmosphere is more adult or at least teen oriented.
a tasty Schäuferla & some rides at Annafest
Of course, for those in search of fine Franconian beer, the Annafest has particular interest. There are 24 kellers and about 13 different breweries represented. Sadly, only liter mugs are served (aside from Schwarze Anna from Neder) so even if you factor out the mass produced junk (a good third), you’re not going to be able to try them all. Prices are a bit high for Franconia but that said, it’s still a lot cheaper than festivals Munich’s Oktoberfest.
the Neder Keller & their tasty Schwarze Anna
Forchheim’s four breweries (Neder, Hebendanz, Greif and Eichhorn) are well-represented with a few kellers each. Franconian giants Mönchof and Tucher (Zirndorfer) are on hand as well as giant wannabe Wolfshöher. Unless you like bland beer, you can save three liters right there. More local but still large breweries include the Buttenheim Twins (Löwenbräu and St. Georgen) and Rittmayer. As I mentioned, Neder’s Schwarze Anna is the only Festbier available in half liter mugs and it’s a winner that should not be missed. Aside from it, I found the Buttenheim Festbier to be the best. More recent additions are Weißenohe Klosterbrauerei, Simon and Veldensteiner.
the wife enjoying a Mass of Festbier
The dates vary from year to year but hinge on St. Anna’s Day (July 26th). It generally starts the Friday prior to the 26th. For instance, this year (2022) it kicks off on July 22nd as the 26th is a Tuesday. It goes for ten days and finishes on the August 1st this year, a Monday. It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Oh, how to get there. If arriving by train, there are shuttle buses up to the Kellerwald that run very regularly. The walk is about 20 minutes and not particularly scenic so it’s worth the nominal fee.
the traditional parade at the Annafest in the Kellerwald