Everything You Need To Know About Oktoberfest

The German festival of Oktoberfest is a 16 day long festival that celebrates beer and food and it is one of the biggest festivals in the world, with in excess of 6 million visitors from across the globe, arriving every year. Although it is known around the globe as Oktoberfest, to locals it is known as ‘die Wiesn’, which is a colloquial name for the fairgrounds where the event is held. In this article, we will be looking in more detail at the history of the event, as well as some of the traditions and beers that are a major part of the event.

Oktoberfest, a Background

The Bavarian Oktoberfest initially took place for the period of the sixteen days up to, and including, the first Sunday in October. However, in 1994, the timetable was adapted in reaction to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the event would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Therefore, the celebration is now 17 days in duration, when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the event continued until the first Monday in October, to denote the anniversary of the festival. The event is held in a vicinity called the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), frequently called Wiesn for short, situated near Munich’s heart. Hefty amounts of Oktoberfest Beer are drunk, with approximately 7 million liters served up for the duration of the 16 day event in 2007.

Oktoberfest Food

Visitors may additionally take pleasure in a extensive range of traditional victuals for example, chicken (Hendl), a type of cooked pork known locally as Schweinebraten, a rather unusual fish on a stick that has been grilled, called Steckerlfisch and various local sausages, such as Brezeln and Wurstl. There are more diverse offerings such as a Knodel which is a dumpling made from bread or potato, as well as a white sausage known as Weisswurst.

The History Of The Festival

Oktoberfest can trace its origins back to the marriage of Ludwig the Crown Prince, later to turn out to be King Ludwig I, and a princess named Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and this took place on October 17, 1810. The populace of Munich was encouraged to be present at the celebrations, which were took place on the grasslands at the front of the gates to the city, in order to rejoice at the happy regal event. The meadows were designated Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) to act as a tribute to the Crown Princess, and that name has persisted ever since, though the citizens have since truncated the name purely to “Wies’n”. Pony chases in the company of the Majestic Lineage denoted the conclusion of the occasion, which was marked as a celebration for the entirety of the Bavaria region. The resolution to rerun the pony races during the succeeding years cemented the tradition of an annual Oktoberfest.

The First 100 Years

In time for the 1811 festival, a farming exhibition was added in order to advertise Bavarian farming. The pony races carried on until 1960, although, the farming show continues to persist and it takes place once every 4 years on the southern most part of the fair ground. During 1816, carnival stalls appeared, and the biggest awards consisted of silver, chinaware, and trinkets. The naissance people of Munich took on responsibility for event organization during 1819, and they decreed the making of Oktoberfest a twelve-monthly event. Soon after, it was expanded and the time was brought forward, due to the fact that there is more daylight and the temperature is balmier at the tail end of September.

Another Long Standing Oktoberfest Tradition

To honor the wedding between Prince Ludwig and princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a pageant was inaugurated for the initial time during 1810. From the time of 1850, it has turned out to be a yearly occasion and a vital part of Oktoberfest. 8 thousand citizens (typically from the Bavarian region) dress in traditional outfits, and march along Maximilian Street all the way through to the centre of Munich to the Oktoberfest site. The walk is guided by Münchner Kindl.

Bavaria Statuette On Top Of The Theresienwiese

Ever since Oktoberfest in 1850, the figure of Bavaria has kept a watchful eye on the Oktoberfest festivities. This knowingly wise Bavarian icon was originally drawn by artist Leo von Klenze with a traditional technique and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler added a romantic slant to it as well as “Germanizing” the appearance. The sculpture was then built by two men Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and his compatriot Ferdinand von Miller.

Times When Oktoberfest Was Cancelled

In the years 1854 and 1873, Oktoberfest was cancelled twice due to an outbreak of cholera, and in the first outbreak in 1854; over 3,000 people in the Munich area succumbed to the illness and died. In 1866, Oktoberfest was cancelled due to the fighting related to a conflict between Austria and Prussia, and as a result of a Franco-Prussian conflict there was to be no festival in 1870 either.

Restructuring And Re-organization

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, restructuring took place. Up till then, there were skittles contests, huge party floors, and foliage for clambering up within the beer cubicles. However, planners sought more space for visitors as well as musical groups. And also the booths were converted into beer halls for the centenary celebrations.

During 1910, Oktoberfest commemorated its centenary, and no less than 120,000 liters of ale was consumed. During 1913, the Bräurosl came about, which boasts the biggest Oktoberfest ale pavilion ever, with capacity for almost 12 thousand guests.

Oktoberfest During The War Years

As of 1914 to 1918, the First World War put off the observance of the Oktoberfest celebrations, and in both 1919 and 1920, Munich observed there was just a simple “Autumn Fest.”

During 1933, the Bavarian flag of blue and white was supplanted by a flag depicting a swastika, and for the duration of the Second World War, which ran from 1939 to 1945, there were to be a cancellation of all Oktoberfest celebrations. After the conclusion of the conflict, for the years 1946 to 1948 inclusive, once again, Munich only celebrated an “Autumn Fest”, which only allowed the consumption of normal strength ales.

Oktoberfest in Modern Times

The Tents

There are many tents both big and small to choose from, and no visitor to Oktoberfest is going to have an easy choice to make about which ones to visit, however, the people at Oktoberfest.de have some information on where you should be at the start of the festivities. “The Schottenhamel is one of the most important tents of the Wiesn, as everything starts inside this tent. On the opening day of the Wiesn, at 12 pm on the dot, the mayor of Munich, Christian Ude will tap the first keg and call out “O’zapft is!” confirming that the tapping was successful. It is only after this that all other tents may begin to serve beer. It’s hard to believe that the Schottenhamel tent, which in 1867 was just a small beer booth with 50 seats, has become the largest Wiesn tent with circa 10,000 seats. The Schottenhamel is the favorite hunting ground for Munich’s young people who meet there to drink and party.” Dind out everything you need to know about visiting Munich and celebrating Oktoberfest.

Recognized Around the World

By 1960, Oktoberfest had become a huge and world renowned festival, and ever since then, outsiders began to conjure up images of Germans wearing the Sennerhut, Lederhosen, and the girls in Dirndl. And there are still plenty of people dressed in traditional Germanic attire during the length of the festival, which seems to add a bit more authenticity to the proceedings.

Safeguarding a Friendly Atmosphere

In order to keep Oktoberfest, and in particular the beer tents, welcoming for older people and families, the idea of the “peaceful Oktoberfest” was developed in 2005. Until 6:00 pm, the tents will only perform soft music, such as traditional wind music. Only after that time, will Schlager and pop music be performed which had led to much more violent behavior in previous years. The music played in the day is restricted to 85 decibels. With these regulations, the organizers of the Oktoberfest were able to rein in the excessive revelry state of mind and safeguard the time-honored beer tent ambiance.

The Ban on Smoking

Beginning in 2008, a new Bavarian law was introduced, which proposed to ban smoking in all enclosed areas, which are open to the general public, even at Oktoberfest. For the reason that there were problems with putting the anti-smoking law into effect in the larger tents, there was an exemption made for the Oktoberfest of 2008, though the selling of tobacco was not allowed under any circumstances. After significant losses in the 2008 local elections, with the ban on smoking being a major issue during debates, the state’s ruling party put into practice special exemptions to beer tents and small bars. The modification in the law is aimed above all, at larger tents at the Oktoberfest. As a result, smoking in the tents was legal for a time, until a comprehensive smoking ban came into force in 2011.

200th Birthday Celebrations

2010 marked the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. For the anniversary, there was a traditional horse race with historical attire on the opening day. A self-styled “Historische Wiesn” (historical Oktoberfest) took place, beginning one day in advance than normal, on the southern part of the event grounds. A specifically beer was brewed (exclusively available at the tents of the historical Oktoberfest), horse races, and a museum tent provided visitors with an idea of how the event appeared over a century ago.

In Summary

There is little doubt that Oktoberfest is one of the biggest festivals anywhere in the world, and there is only a few festivals that are bigger or better known than the Bavarian Oktoberfest. It is still gaining in popularity, and people from all walks of life, and from all over the world, flock to Munich in order to soak up the cheery festival atmosphere.