Where to best watch the World Cup matches in Germany? Now that is a tough question with a simple answer: everywhere! There is no escaping the soccer frenzy this summer.
Public viewing is without a doubt the best way to share the excitement with your friends and fellow supporters from all over the world in a stadium-like atmosphere. Great locations throughout the country really make up for all the pain the ticketing has brought. So take your beers and friends (in that order) out to one of the public watchfests. Try find a place in the sun next to a Brazilian fan beauty. Can it get any better?
All 12 host cities will stage special fan fests with daily broadcasts of all matches as well as a music and entertainment program. Depending on the venue, between 20,000 (Leipzig) and 100,000 (Berlin) fans are expected to attend. Apart from these official fan gatherings, public TV screens will be set up all over the cities.
Every bigger German city -- and probably even the smaller ones -- will have one or two public viewing opportunities. The official TV rights holders (Switzerland-based infront) basically cleared all sort of public viewing activity as long as it is not sponsored and free of charge. This paved the way for thousands of cities, communities, schools, and sports clubs to stage their own events. Just check the local newspapers for listings.
Pubs, restaurants and beer gardens were also allowed to televise, so it is highly likely that every drinking hole will set up a TV screen. Restaurants might not be as packed and loud as bars or beer halls, but you should basically be able to catch the games everywhere.
Even cinemas and evangelical churches will do broadcasts -- and God knows who else!
As for a certain sports bar culture in Germany, it's hard to sense one. Unlike in America, where you have loads of different leagues to chose from, only soccer games draw a lively audience into a pub. The Bundesliga, which is telecasted live on Pay TV each Saturday and Sunday afternoon, attracts lots of fans who enjoy watching a conference-style broadcast of the respective match highlights as they happen. It's nothing compared to a typical American sports bar with numerous TV screens, burgers and beautiful waitresses. However, things will change big-time for the World Cup.
MAIN FAN FEST LOCATIONS IN THE HOST CITIES
Brandenburger Tor/Strasse des 17. Juni
Capacity: Over 100,000
Friedensplatz und Westfalenhallen
Top music acts: Red Hot Chili Peppers (June 11-12); Fury in the Slaughterhouse (July 7)
Top music acts: Simple Minds (June 9), Status Quo (June 28), Gypsy Kings (June 29), Tokio Hotel (July 6) and Bryan Adams (July 7)
Heiligengeistfeld am Millerntor
Fan-Treff Stiftsplatz and Fan-Treff Barbarossaplatz
Capacity: 2,500 each
Top acts: Placido Domingo (June 6)
As a native of Germany, Johannes Berendt can't wait for the World Cup to start. He covers international sports for the British Press Association and ESPN SportsTicker.