“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
And what better way to celebrate life than at Oktoberfest – the biggest beer party on earth!
Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It runs from late September to the first weekend in October and is the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year.
On 12th October 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honour of the Crown Princess ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”.The close of the event was marked by horse races in the presence of the Royal Family.
The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. Although the horse races are no longer a part of the festival celebrations, an Agricultural show is held every three years.Since 1950, the festival can only begin after the official 12- gun salute and the mayor of Munich shouting O’ zapft is!(“It’s tapped!”). The Mayor then offers the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. Only beer that is brewed in Bavarian breweries is allowed to be sold at the festival.
Traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte), which contain a tuft of goat hair. In Germany, goat hair is highly valued and prized, making it one of the most expensive objects for sale. The more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you are considered to be!
The party stretches over 26 hectares, with around 12,000 waiters and waitresses expected to serve more than seven million “mass” (litre-sized glasses) to punters in 35 tents, the biggest of which seats 10,000. To soak up the suds, wide varieties of food are available like Potato Pancakes, Potato Salad, Sautéed Mushrooms, Fried Potatoes – Bratkartoffeln, Obazda – Cheese Spread, Wurstsalat – Meat Salad, Pretzels – Brezen and Currywurst
If beer isn’t your choice of alcohol then you can also sample some of Germany’s wonderful wines which are also available at the festival.
Dos and Don’ts at Oktoberfest
- Don’t be a “Bierleichen” (German for “beer corpses”) and keep in mind that Oktoberfest beer has 5.8 to 6.3% alcohol and high sugar content
- Do remember to drink plenty of water during the day
- Do remember to experience the thrilling rides before you begin your day at the beer tents!
- Youth hostels and campsites are a perfect option for those who are looking to save a little money or just love the great outdoors.
- Do remember to tip your waiter/waitress