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Tollwood Festival in Munich

April 7, 2017

Every summer the lively Tollwood Music and Culture Festival takes place in the Olympiapark in Munich. On the festival´s site, the “market of ideas” meets theatre and group performances, while live music from all over the world is being played around the exhibitors tents. This is the meeting place of a lot of inhabitants of Munich as well as many foreigners who all come to try dishes from all different countries. Here, you can get Greek Souvlaki on the first stand and find specialties of Ethiopia or India on the next one, while smelling the traditional German Bratwurst that are being cooked at the end of the market. 50 restaurateurs offer food and drinks coming from 20 different countries on the festival. And the best about it is that everything is organic and many of the dishes even vegetarian or vegan! Here you´ll always find something to please you. And while tasting the many delights, please don´t feel bad about it. No product is coming from a factory farming here, so no reason to feel guilty!

I personally try a speciality coming from another country every year. Last year it was Ethiopia! I had some chicken curry dish with some Sambusas – the Ethiopian variation of Samosas. My sister ate a vegetarian curry. We also both got some sourdough bread of Injera to accompany our meal. And I have to admit we were pretty happy about it. Because of the spicy sauce, the bread was more than welcome. In the Ethiopian Cuisine, a lot of delicious but really strong spices are used. After eating, we felt full and really satisfied: everything was so tasty! And yet… We couldn´t keep ourselves from getting a little treat. We hesitated a long time between French crepes, the traditional Baumstrizel (chimney cake) or simple (but delicious) chocolate fruits. And of course, in the end, we chose the amazing Baumstrizel! Afterwards, we tried the amazing exotic cocktails. These are just perfect on sunny days, while listening to live music.


Every year, I wander through the market with my friends or family to have a look at the different stands, artisanal products, clothes, decorations and jewellery from the different countries and cultures. Products from developing countries bear the “Fair Trade” seal and fabrication methods are required on those which don´t have this sign. In this way, small and local manufacturers and artisans are being supported. Every year, ten creative start ups also profit from a free stand in order to give them the chance to become independent and develop their business more easily. Now, you will probably understand why I always have the feeling that I´m doing something good every time that I buy something on this festival. One of the stands sells watches which were made with old glass bottles. The glass is melted and then modeled in such a way that the watches now look like they are melting on the table. On the next stand, there are some decorations that were made with old vinyl records. A bit further, you find some typical Polynesian jewellery, which were made of mussels and coconut shells.


While looking at the stands, walk acts (people wearing stilts and often disguised as colourful birds and dragons) are constantly crossing our way. Some are dancing, some are doing acrobatics and others are simply parading majestically through the crowd. Then, we sat down on the meadow of the Olympiapark and enjoyed fresh made lemonades, while watching the colourful hustle of the market. We could hear music coming from one of the exhibitor´s tent. On the scene, an acrobatic show was being performed. On the hill of the Olympia, you simply get the best view on the whole festival, its colourful lights and the lively crowd.


But there are also some tents on the market of ideas. In the green pavilion, people and NGOs talk about their commitment and success achieved with charity and environmental organizations. Anyone is invited to apply to join and participate. In the world salon, some prominently booked podium discussions, speeches, concerts, performances and interactive installations about topics such as globalization and justice, war and peace, environment protection and innovation, brave people and future projects are hold. In case of bad weather, you can also wander through the covered Mercato and bazar tent and buy a social tombola there. The profits of the tombola are, with the help of other organizations, dedicated to the victims of the earthquake that occurred in Nepal half a year ago. More music, food, artisanal products and many activities are also to be found in the tents. Some of my friends already printed themselves a scarf and once, I got myself a beautiful henna tattoo.


“Tollwood Winterfestival” am 28.11.2013 auf der Theresienwiese in München ND © B.Wackerbauer

Summer goes with outdoor concerts. And on the Tollwood festival, you will find more than enough! The music area is filled with international bands, German artists, newcomers, trendy chart toppers and old legends. The very first Tollwood Festival occurred in 1988 with local artists. Since then, the event took place every year in summer between June and July and kept on becoming bigger and more famous. This year, Rae Garvey, die Fantastischen 4, Parov Stellar, Silbermond, Glasperlenspiel and Passengers will be performing there among many other artists. You can find the line up with all information and dates on the website and buy the tickets by phone. A box office will also be organized at the entry of each concert. However, you cannot be sure that you will get a ticket. 900 000 people visit this festival of 300 000 square metres every year. And the lively and relaxed atmosphere of the Tollwood festival makes it really worth the detour!

The festival is organized around a „three pillars strategy“: the market of ideas, the organic gastronomy festival and a wide cultural program of music, theatre, performances and visual art. It is a forum for ecology and environmental awareness, a platform for important topics and a pulse generator for ecological projects. The whole event is built respecting ecological concerns and sustainability. Other topics such as factory farming, climate protection and further social subjects are being brought to the attention of the guests every year. Discussions, speeches and petitions are to be found everywhere on the festival. This year the motto of the festival is “bitte umsteigen”, which literally means “please change trains” and refers to people’s mobility in the city. The different art pieces and discussion topics are being held about this theme. And of course, the festival encourages its visitors to get there with public transports. Something new this year is the “Hippiedrom” tent. Even if the name already gives you a hint, the details of this attraction still remain unknown. Another new activity is the circus Aial and its acrobatic performances. I’m already really excited about seeing them! The entry to the market of ideas and to the festival, as well as 70% of the events and activities is free.


Since 1991, there is also the winter Tollwood which takes place on the Theresienwiese in Munich (the same place, where the Oktoberfest is held each year in end of September). This one starts before the first Advent Sunday and offers many cultural activities until new year´s eve. The Christmas market is open until the 23rd of December. During winter, the program varies a bit and includes theatre, the market of ideas and a world salon. The world salon is a platform for social and ecological ideas based on topics such as earth fascination, environment protection and social commitment. The performances take place on the performance scene or in the entrance. Just like in summer, you can see Walk Acts wandering everywhere around the place. With more than 600 000 visitors per year, the winter festival has a little less success than the summer one, but is still a great touristic attraction!


Übersicht am 03.12.2013 auf dem Tollwood Winter Festival in München
ND © B.Wackerbauer

Keep these days in mind: 21.06-16.07 and visit this inspiring festival. It is a real not-to-be missed event! Here, you will be able to eat, do some shopping, dance and have fun… while having the feeling of doing something good! You will find more information on the Tollwood festival´s official homepage or on the website of the city of Munich. And if you want to stay in a very special hotel in Munich for the festival, we recommend you the Flushing Meadows.

We wish you a lot of fun at the Tollwood Festival!


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