The Marksmen's Fair

The Marksmen's Fair

Jun 28, 2024Jul 07, 2024
Schützenplatz, Bruchmeisterallee 1A, 30169,
Entrance free

The Marksmen's Fair in Hannover is one of the most unique fairs in Germany. Where else will you find a modern funfair brushing up against traditions dating back to the 14th century? 

The Marksmen's Fair (Schützenfest)

The Marksmen's Fair has been celebrated in Hannover since 1529, and although the event has changed over time, they certainly know how to keep people entertained! There will be a funfair, with all the familiar rides, five different tents, stages or beer gardens to keep you well-watered and dancing, as well as food for sale throughout the site.

The rides and refreshments are in place for the whole ten days, and while the rides tend to shut around midnight, there's no curfew for the entertainment and it often continues until the early hours!

On top of all that, there are several traditions and ceremonies you can watch. These include the mayor of Hannover tapping the first keg of the party on opening night, or the Riflemen's Parade, where a crowd of participants - that often reaches 10km in size - proceed around the streets of Hannover to the City Hall. 

The history of The Marksmen's Fair

The first mention of a marksmen's club in Hannover is from 1468 when they would have still been firing crossbows. By the time Duke Eric I gave permission for a festival in 1529, establishing the event that is still celebrated today, they had already switched to rifles.

These clubs were formed not as a hobby, but to provide a real defence force for the city if it was ever attacked. Luckily, a great way of encouraging your marksmen to practise is to have a big competition every year!

In 1710, men called Bruchmeisters were appointed to ensure the smooth running of the festival. After all, you don't want people going rogue at a gun show! These Bruchmeisters are still appointed today, and the first women were appointed to the role in 2023.

The Bruchmeisters must be under 35 years old, and "single, honourable and of good character" in order to be appointed. This is because the job is seen as too important to have people who might be distracted by their families. In 1905, the dress code of a black coat and a top hat with a cloverleaf was established, and this is what you will still see them wearing today.

Image credit: Timo Jaworr The parade at the marksmens fair

Key events during The Marksmen's Fair

The main event on Friday is always the tapping of the keg by the mayor, which happens in the evening to mark the official start of the festival.

While shooting itself is no longer the major part of the festivities, there are over 60 clubs that make up the Association of Hanoverian Shooting Clubs, and they all get to take part in the parade on the first Sunday of the festival. The parade is enormous and, with over 10.000 participants, it can take hours for everyone to complete the route. Everyone dresses in their club finery which is quite something to see!

Wednesdays are always family days! While the celebrating can be a bit raucous in the evenings, during the daytime, the funfair and events are extremely family-friendly. On Wednesdays, there are reduced prices at all family rides and stalls, as well as face painting, a mascot parade and a scavenger hunt.

Craftsmen have always been honoured at the fair, and every year there is an evening given over to them. Without fine woodworkers, there would have been no crossbows to start this whole thing off, nor any of the beautiful wooden parrots that have been used for target practice for so long.

Finally, on the last Sunday of the festival, there is a procession from the fairground to the Market Church for a tattoo by torchlight to close the fair.

Don't worry about missing the football this year either. Arrangements have been made to show any matches that Germany are playing in during the festival!

Drink like a local

While the beer will flow freely over the 10 days, you might want to get in a little practice at drinking the drink of the festival: Lüttje Lage. This curious traditional drink is in fact two drinks. You hold a glass of beer in your hand, and with the fingers of the same hand, you hold a glass of schnapps just above it. When you tip them up to drink, the schnapps should flow into the beer as the beer flows into you.

Don't worry though, they are used to beginners so there are aprons and bibs for those who think they might need them!

Find out more about The Marksmen's Fair

There is a full breakdown of events available on The Marksmen's Fair website, as well as information on how to buy grandstand seating for the parade. Entrance to the festival is completely free of charge.

There is not a lot of parking in the Schützenplatz area, so it is not recommended to drive in. The location is a five-minute walk from Waterloo or Allerweg tram stops, or a 10-minute walk from Bahnhof Linden / Fischerhof on the S-Bahn, so arriving by public transport is very easy. There will also be a free bike park set up for those who prefer to cycle in. Hannover itself is easily accessible by train from other German cities such as Berlin and Hamburg.

Thumb image credit: Ole Spata