Suddenly it’s April. In the Nothern Hemisphere that means Spring. The long cold Winter has finally started to dissipate (a little slower than many would like in Northern Europe mind you!), and it’s time to enjoy that almost forgotten life-giving force… the sun. As soon as sun and warmth start to show themselves, so do hordes of people, looking to thaw on the many terraces, parks and beaches on offer. Europe has had centuries to master the art of outdoor living and they do it in style.
But what about the spots where you can not only enjoy the sun, but also enjoy a delicious ice cold beer? …Beer gardens.
Beer Gardens (from the German “Biergarten”) are outdoor areas in which beer, other drinks, and local food are served (thanks Wikipedia). Biergartens originated in Southern Germany in the 14th Century and have since spread throughout the world. “Beer Garden” has now become a generic term for pretty much any open-air establishment where beer is served, but for the purpose of this post we’re talking about the more traditional ones – vast outdoor areas, often partially shaded, or located in leafy parks, with rows and rows of simple bench seating, numerous draft beers on tap, local (salty and fatty) foods that go perfectly with beer, sometimes traditional music and an atmosphere that starts quietly but grows more lively as the effects of the sun, beer and crowd of happy people combine perfectly… beer gardens make for a very fine day out indeed and April is when they start to open.
Biergartens are especially popular in Central Europe and for the true Beer Garden experience Germany is still the place to go. The Prater Garten in Berlin is a personal favourite, where you can enjoy quality beer in the hip suburb of Prenzlauer Berg, under the shade of chestnut trees (that old chestnut?). Bavaria, home of the Biergaarten, cannot be overlooked for sheer number and quality of traditional beer gardens – the Hirschgarten in Munich is worth checking out, it is possibly the largest beer garden in the world with seating for over 8000 people! We could go on, but in short April = beer gardens and Germany does them best.
If beer isn’t your thing but you still want to enjoy the outdoors with a drink (perhaps you’d prefer a Pim’s and lemonade or a cocktail whilst listening to DJs spinning cool tunes), then you might want to head to a Rooftop Bar instead (Lisbon has some nice ones) or perhaps a Beach Bar (Vienna got some great ones, like Strandbar Herrmann). Then of course there are the outdoor festivals, like Queen’s Day in the Netherlands, but that’s the topic of another post.
Dan Fennessy writes about nightlife culture on the Spotted by Locals blog