In 1998, Vechta celebrated 800 years of continuous late-summer partying. The “Stubble Market” first kicked off in August of 1298.
Over the next few centuries, it has grown from a simple market festival to a six day event that attracts more than 800,000 visitors! So if you want to stay in the city during the festival, be prepared to pay high rates for last minute bookings.
The event has more than 500 fair booths, with amusement park rides and continuous concerts. It’s the largest fair in Northern Germany. Local promoters milk it for all it’s worth but you really can’t blame them — who doesn’t love a massive relaxed outdoor festival?
The town certainly has the space for it. The traditionally agricultural community is on the edge of the North German Plain, a wide stretch of slightly boggy soil. Vechta itself means ‘wet land’ but it is not in a bog per se these days. Instead, the plain has been re-sculpted to encompass miles of biking and hiking trails, with special elevated trails for horseback riders.
The area is on the rise economically, which shows in the numbers of new restaurants and cultural events. The slow food movement is big here, as well as public concerts. Knowing that they can get a place playing at the festival in August, many local acts stay in practice all year by performing regularly in parks, bars and small concert halls, so you can get a sense of the local scene without having to shell out big bucks in the off season.
If you are not doing the festival, you will want to check out Vechta castle. In 2005 and 2006, a number of archeological digs unearthed the local castle and piles of medieval artifacts are on display at the castle and in the local armory.
St. George’s church tower is also worth a close look — you can still see where 2 cannonballs from Swedish attacks went through. They’ve just left them as the structure didn’t collapse and the church is still in use in case you have any repenting to do after six days at the festival! ;-)