For sixteen days in the fall of every year Oktoberfest in Germany – Bavaria is the only place to be for any serious beer drinker or festival maniac. In fact, the Oktoberfest brings in a crowd of approximately six million partiers every year! Munich (München) hosts what has become the biggest fair in the world, and certainly the largest Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is a mainstay of the Bavarian Culture. Beer drinking and festivals go back centuries and centuries in Bavaria and the Oktoberfest is the culmination of all of these efforts at celebration.

The History of Oktoberfest in Germany

The first Oktoberfest in Germany is said to have been a party to honor King Ludwig the First’s marriage. In an effort to celebrate the union, the couple organized a horse race. The festival has evolved since that time to the huge fair that it is today. Since the first Oktoberfest in 1810, the fair has been celebrated all but only a handful of times when war or epidemics prevented its occurrence.

Originally held in October as the name suggests, the festival date was changed in the mid 1800’s in order to take advantage of the great weather to be had in Bavaria in late September. Also around this time the festival was lengthened to include almost the full sixteen days that it is today. Between 1850 and 1853, a statue was added the fairgrounds called the statue of Bavaria. The first time beer was ever served in the traditional glass mug wasn’t until 1892.

It was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that the festival grounds started evolving into the scene that resembles today’s. Eventually the booths became tents and beer halls, and the more attention was given to the task of accommodating more people. One of the greater moments in the evolution of Oktoberfest in Germany was when bratwurst started being sold in tents in 1881. Over the course of the years since 1810 when the festival began, the Oktoberfest has taken place all but 24 of those years. With the success the festival has acquired, I don’t see that changing any time soon!

Oktoberfest in Germany Facts:

• The price for a litre of beer is approximately 8.5 Euro
• The Oktoberfest grounds are around 104 acres
• Almost 7 million litres of beer are consumed during the festival
• There’s almost a thousand toilets available
• Approximately 6.2 million people visit each year
• The tents seat from 3 – 8 thousand people or more
• Almost 7 million litres of beer are consumed during the festival

Oktoberfest Today

When you hear the twelve gun salute the first keg tapping is about to happen at Oktoberfest. You can count that by noon on the first day of the festival, the keg will be tapped and the guns will have fired. After the keg tapping, Munich’s mayor will yell out to the anxious crowd “O’zapft is!”, meaning It’s tapped!

As you can imagine, public drunkenness is an ongoing problem at Oktoberfest every year. Beer corpses (“Bierleichen”) are what the people who pass out because of drunkenness are called. These so called corpses can be found passed out just about anywhere at the festival. When these drunks are spotted, they get transported to a medical tent for help.

Another interesting aspect about Oktoberfest in Germany is the idea that the festival would like to maintain somewhat of a family atmosphere. The music on the grounds in the tents is to be no louder than 85 decibels until 6 PM. This is to ensure an overall family atmosphere and also an attempt to keep things pretty mellow until at least the night. There is so much partying going on at night, that it really helps the fair to be able to keep some semblance of calm during the daytime.

Categories: Travel

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