The official history of the Freimarkt began in 1035 although Bremen had been granted the right to hold a market long before that. But the first documentary evidence of a market in Bremen dates from 1035. That year, Emperor Conrad II granted the right to hold a fair to the archbishop of Bremen. The first fair was a one-day event that took place on October 16, 1035. Since then, every following German emperor has regularly renewed this free fair privilege. The last emperor to grant the Bremen merchants the right to hold the fair was Francis II in 1793. Since then, the merchants have decided on the date of the Freimarkt themselves.
Over the years, the Freimarkt has transformed from just a grocery fair to one of the most popular and modern funfairs in Germany. It covers an area of 100,000 square meters that are divided into two areas. The first area is the so-called Kleiner Freimarkt (Small Free Fair). It occupies the Bremer Marktplatz (Bremen Market Square) which is used as a market place only during the Freimarkt and the Christmas market. The second area is the main area, it Is adjacent to the city’s central railway station and Bremen Exhibition & Conference Center.
The Freimarkt Fair begins in the middle of October and lasts 17 days. It features about 50 fairground rides (including a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a ghost train and carousels) that provide fun and exciting experience, over 300 vendors and artists, concerts and interactive performances, parties, light cascades, etc.
Of course, the festival cannot do without traditional funfair foods such as cotton candy, honey cake, Bratwurst (German sausage), deep-fried dough, hot almonds, spicy liquorices and smoked eel. During the festival, all off times for pubs are canceled.
The highlight of the Freimarkt is the Free Fair Procession (Freimarktsumzug) that takes place on the second Saturday of the festival. The procession features more than a thousand people including marching bands, horsemen and street performers. Over four million people come to Bremen every year to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the fair.
Photo by Roland Scheitz, freimarkt.de