BMW in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Lottie, BMW Motorrad UK's Digital Marketing Manager, and Tom, a Motorcycle Marketing Assistant, both made their first visit to the now-legendary BMW Motorrad Days festival in Germany. If you've ever thought about making a trip to the biggest celebration of all things BMW Motorrad (but have wondered what actually takes place) then read on.
Lottie, BMW Motorrad UK
BMW Motorrad Days is the world’s biggest BMW motorbike festival. Last year BMW Motorrad welcomed 40,000 visitors to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and this year promised to be just as big. Entrance is free and the events programme is packed full of different displays to keep every motorbike enthusiast entertained. This event is BMW Motorrad's way of saying thank you to the motorbike community.
If two fun-filled days in Garmisch aren’t enough, BMW Motorrad also hosts a pre-party in Munich at the BMW Museum - next to the impressive four-cylinder building. This provides a perfect stop-over for those making their way to Garmisch from northern Europe.
After arriving in Munich on Thursday by plane (ironically), we headed straight for the ‘warm-up party’ and were met by crowds of motorcyclists who enthused about their journey to Motorrad Days. Most of the groups we spoke to had enjoyed some fantastic weather and great riding, everyone seemed really energised and it was a really enjoyable evening with live music. We were allowed to wander round the BMW museum at leisure which was really fascinating. We spotted British racer Maria Costello and seven-time land speed record holder Valerie Thompson enjoying the party.
The next day we were scheduled to take an afternoon train (still no motorbikes for us) to the event - so we decided to fit in another visit to the BMW Museum. We spotted Guy Martin taking a guided tour although we nearly missed him as he was sporting a very different haircut to the last time we saw him at the Isle of Man TT!
The train journey from Munich to the festival site took just over an hour and, although the route was very scenic, we couldn’t help feeling a little jealous after hearing all the groups who had arrived by motorbike discussing how fantastic the ride had been. We even spotted a few of the groups travelling by road from the train and it definitely looked a lot of fun.
By the weekend the weather in Garmisch was reaching record temperatures of 35° - and it’s fair to say some nationalities were coping better than others with the heat… One of the best things about Motorrad Days is that you can really make the experience your own. The festival is very relaxed and there are so many different things to see and do. Add to this a truly stunning setting and you have a recipe for the perfect motorbike-related weekend.
The main event arena was never too crowded – you could choose to stand on one of the platforms or go inside the BMW Exhibition Tent and get a great view from the second floor. The main arena hosted stunt shows and bike displays throughout the two days. Personal favourites were the Classic Bike Display and the Chris Pfeiffer Stunt Show. The MINI display was amusing with one of the drivers picking members of the audience to sit in the boot while he performed different stunts.
For those wanting to check out the latest offerings from BMW Motorrad, the Exhibition Tent showcased the new model colours for 2016 and was also the only place with air conditioning. Whether it was the new GS Triple Black or the air con, this tent was very popular. There was even a social media lounge upstairs from where you could get a great view of the main arena.
Another main attraction was the "Original Motodrom", the world's oldest travelling Wall of Death. This was an absolute must-see and ran throughout both days so plenty of chances to get a spot on the viewing platform (not for the faint-hearted).
For those wanting to join in the action there was plenty on offer. If you’d ridden to Garmisch-Partenkirchen on a GS you could enter the GS Try-Out Trophy or have a play in the Enduro Park. Motorbike riders could also pre-book test rides on new bikes or just turn up and book a slot. There was also the option to take your bike out into the mountains on one of the legendary ride outs, although time-consuming the opportunity to ride the Stelvio Pass has got to be on the must-try list for next year. When we all reconvened in the evening it was the ride-outs that generated the most excitement and praise.
In the evenings Motorrad Days really came into its own. In the shadow of the mountains the bands started to play and everyone settled in for an evening drinking beer and eating pretzels... There were quite a few different Bavarian-themed food outlets and in the centre of the festival stood a gigantic beer hall (the ‘Party Tent’) where the waiters and waitresses served huge tankards of beer and plates of meat (there must’ve been a veggie option but we didn’t see it).
Outside the tent you could find lots of BBQs and self-service food places which all seemed to be very authentic. There were a few different bands including one at the festival camp fire. Most of the music was along the classic rock theme which seemed fitting. Later on in the night the partying continued across the site – moving on to the US Lodge as the night progressed.
Our overall impression of the 15th annual Motorrad Days Festival at Garmisch-Partenkirchen was that it was an incredibly friendly and relaxed event with enough on offer to keep everyone entertained. The site itself is quite compact so no walking for miles and miles like at some festivals. It’s a family-friendly event where you can happily bump into some of the stars of the motorbike world just by wandering around. It’s no wonder people come from all over the world. We’re already counting down to Motorrad Days 2016...