Visit Munich to enjoy festivals in every season

September 21, 2017: Couples dancing in traditional costumes inside a beer tent during Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest in Munich actually begins in September – and there’s plenty of fun in this festival-mad city the rest of the year, too © FooTToo / Shutterstock

With snowy winters, hot summers and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to fit all seasons, Munich has something to suit every traveler.

Whether you want to flock to or avoid the city’s famous beer festival, here’s our guide to help you decide the perfect time to visit the Bavarian capital and what to do for each season.

July to August is the best time for budget travelers and outdoor activities

High summer can mean high temperatures in Munich, but the city’s ample outdoor offerings certainly help to take the edge off. The clear waters of the Isar River are perfect for a cooling dip, while the green parks and leafy beer gardens offer plenty of shade and refreshment. Even though it's the high season, if you’re traveling on a budget you can spend most of your time outside which helps to reduce costs. Plus most beer gardens allow you to bring your own picnic if you buy a drink. 

Pack summer clothes and sunscreen, but also a light waterproof or umbrella as sudden thunderstorms and downpours are not uncommon.

Go March to June or September to October to enjoy bike rides and beer

The transitional seasons are a great time to visit Munich. The comfortable climate means you can whizz around on bikes without breaking a sweat while making the most of this easy-to-navigate city. Come in spring for the start of beer-garden season, or (and?) in fall for the big event.  

The exception is Oktoberfest which attracts millions of visitors every year, resulting in inflated hotel prices and early bookings. If you want to include Oktoberfest in your trip, then plan far ahead. If you don’t want to take part in the festivities, it’s better to avoid the city during this time. 

Checkerboard floor tiles, sculptures and exquisite frescoes line the walls of a corridor at Münchner Residenz
Warm up from cold Munich days inside the city’s many galleries, art museums and historic monuments, such as Münchner Residenz, the former royal palace © Peter Teoh / 500px

Go November to February for Christmas markets and indoor culture

The initial onset of colder and darker days is compensated for by the arrival of Christmas markets at the end of November, as the glow provided by mulled wine and holiday lights soon makes you forget about the chill. Combine this with the first snow and children being pulled to school on sleighs and it all becomes rather fairy tale–like. 

Once the festive charm subsides, however, January and February can seem dreary. Many locals head to the mountains during this time in search of “proper” snow. Several slopes are accessible by train, and you can often spy passengers clutching their skis at Munich’s central station. Back in the city, the city’s many cafes, museums and galleries are a good place to keep warm – and stimulated, too. 


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January  

January is a subdued time in Munich, particularly the first week of the year when many places remain closed after the Christmas break. If the ice allows, some head to the frozen Nymphenburger Canal for a spot of skating or a game of Bavarian curling.
Key events: ISPO Munich

February

As the cold weather drags on, many locals escape the city and make the most of the nearby ski resorts. Some color arrives with Fasching (carnival), when children and adults wear silly costumes for events around the city. 
Key events: Fasching, Munich Fashion Week

March 

Beer gardens can start to open in March, as the sound of clinking glasses under the trees heralds the unofficial end of winter. Over Lent, the so-called strong-beer season (Starkbierzeit) begins with breweries producing just that – and throwing parties to celebrate it.
Key events: Starkbierfest, Stroke Art Fair

April 

Folk festivals that get going in April bring carousels, roasted almonds and beer tents to the city, as well as more people than normal wearing Tracht (traditional Bavarian dress)
Key events: Maidult, Frühlingsfest, Theresienwiese flea market 

May 

May is peak season for the German delicacy white asparagus. Just about every city chef adds the beloved vegetable to their menu, and the stalls at Viktualienmarkt overflow with bundles of “white gold.” 
Key events: Maidult, Frühlingsfest, Lange Nacht der Musik 

June

Summer starts to ramp up with long lines at ice cream parlors and packed tables at beer gardens. The annual film festival attracts movie buffs from around the world, while arts lovers flock to festivals of opera, theater, and the circus arts. 
Key events: Munich Film Festival, StuStaCulum, Opernfestspiele, Tollwood

Cyclists on a bike path pedal past sunbathers and picnickers on the lawns of the English Garden, Munich
Visitors can enjoy cycling, sunbathing and outdoor festivals galore during the summer in Munich © LOOK / Getty Images

July 

As temperatures rise, parts of the Isar River feel almost beach-like with deck chairs, umbrellas and barbecues lining the banks. It’s never too hot for another folk festival, though.
Key events: Jakobidult, Opernfestspiele, Christopher Street Day, Kocherlball, Tollwood, Klassik am Odeonsplatz

August 

Because of the Bavarian school holidays, August can feel quiet in town as families head out on vacation. Munich still offers plenty to do, however, as open-air concerts, outdoor cinemas and street festivals continue to provide a great summer program. 
Key events: Hans-Sachs Straßenfest, Tanzwerkstatt Europa, Münchner Open Air Sommer

September

Despite its slightly misleading name, Munich’s famous beer festival kicks off in September. While Oktoberfest takes place on Theresienwiese, the excitement spills out onto the streets and into public transport all over town. In other words, you can’t miss it.
Key events: Munich Marathon, Oktoberfest 

October 

After the final fanfare of Oktoberfest, some normality resumes in Munich in October. The city’s trees turn a beautiful mix of orange, red and yellow, with some gloriously sunny days providing a perfect blue backdrop. 
Key events: Kirchweihdult, Lange Nacht der Münchner Museen

The lights of a Christmas market in twilight in front of New Town Hall on Marienplatz
Christmas markets add cheer to cold winter evenings in Munich © Murat Taner / Getty Images

November

As the cold arrives, locals start to wear their winter uniform: long puffer jackets and colorful beanie hats. Toward the end of the month, Christmas market stalls start to appear in squares around the city. 
Key events: Christmas markets, Tollwood Winter Festival, Munich Literature Festival

December 

December sees tourists and locals alike head to Munich’s multitude of Christmas markets, from the classic stalls in Marienplatz to the “Pink Christmas” market organized by the local LBGTQ community.  
Key events: Christmas markets, Tollwood Winter Festival

This article was first published on January 5, 2022 and updated on January 14, 2022

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