Every year, Beetle aficionados from across Europe make a pilgrimage to Travemünde, at the southern tip of the Baltic Sea, to exalt in the glow of all that is Beetle.
It’s the year’s largest, privately organized Beetle meet in the world and this year it drew a record number of participants (at best count, several thousand) and cars (650 in total) from ten countries, and included celebrities who came out to grant clout to the event and celebrate with their, and the car’s, fans.
Under the banner “Crazy — not for squares,” the weekend participants in the Beetle Sunshinetour, gathered to celebrate the freedom of open top motoring, show off their sometimes remarkable customizations, listen to contemporary music provided by renowned DJs, meet up with celebrities such as actress Karoline Schuch (star of the 2013 acclaimed film Hanna’s Journey) and rapper MC Fitti.
And Volkswagen brought along a couple stars of their own to mark the occasion — the new 2017 Beetle and Beetle Cabriolet.
“We have been supporting the Sunshine Tour for over 10 years, as it’s an event that we’re really keen on. It’s attended by the real fans with a real passion for the Beetle,” said an enthused Martina Biene, Head of Product Marketing at Volkswagen.
Volkswagen’s 2017 version of its eternally young classic has new bumpers, fresh colours and new fabrics. It also features special editions such as the Denim model (featuring a folding top that looks like blue jeans) that pays homage to the 1974 Jeans Beetle, and Exclusive models (featuring unique wheels and upholstery) of both the base car and the R version.
The drive to the gathering is probably the biggest part of the event and it traditionally goes from the LUV Centre in Lübeck to Travemünde’s waterfront Brügmanngarten. This year, due to the high number of vehicles, rallies set off from five locations to meet up in Travemünde.
And as with previous years, the level of participation was unprecedented with those owners who haven’t spent thousands on customizing their Beetles, dressing up their usually sedate cars in costumes. The event also features an awarding of a Ms. and Mr. Beetle, contests of skill (but mostly feats of daring), and prizes for the most noteworthy Beetles (including this year’s grand champion (belonging to Thomas Wohlfarth), which featured a Smurf-inspired paint job.
One of the highlights of the meet was a gentle excursion. Due to the high number of participants, this was started in the form of a staggered rally, which began at five different locations and ended on the Brügmanngarten festival meadow. Be it historic original Beetle, modern Beetle Dune or New Beetle, the visitors from over ten countries drove along the Baltic Sea coast in their often imaginatively designed and tuned vehicles and demonstrated what a crowd-puller the cult car still is.
"Every year I think, that was the best Sunshine Tour ever,” concluded Gaby Kraft, organiser of the Beetle Sunshinetour. “And the next year I'm always proved wrong. This year again, it was even better!"