Oktoberfest is a 16–18 day festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.
The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October, to mark the 200-year anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich's center.
Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich is allowed to be served in this festival. Upon passing this criteria, a beer is designated Oktoberfest Beer. Oktoberfest Beer is a registered Trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers. Those Breweries are members of this exclusive Club. In alphabetical Order -Augustinerbräu -Hacker-Pschorr Bräu -Hofbräu -Löwenbräu -Paulanerbräu -Spatenbräu
Large quantities of German beer are consumed, with almost 7 million liters served during the 16 day festival in 2007. Visitors may also enjoy a wide variety of traditional fare such as Hendl (chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).
The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 12, 1810.
First hundred yearsIn the year 1811, an agricultural show was added to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse race persisted until 1960, the agricultural show still exists and it is held every four years on the southern part of the festival grounds. In 1816, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819, and it was agreed that the Oktoberfest would become an annual event. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that days are longer and warmer at the end of September.
To honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a parade took place for the first time in 1810. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people—mostly from Bavaria—in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.
Since 1850, the statue of Bavaria has watched the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and "Germanised" the draft; it was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.
In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was finished. In 1854, 3,000 residents of Munich succumbed to an epidemic of cholera, so the festival was cancelled. Bavaria's part in the Austro-Prussian War meant that there was no Oktoberfest in 1866. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war was the reason for cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was once more cancelled due to a cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated over 400 booths and tents. In 1881, booths selling bratwursts opened. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.
At the end of the 19th century, a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. They wanted more room for guests and musicians. The booths became beer halls.
|Inside one of the many beer tents|
In 1887, the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries took place for the first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and symbolises the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration
In the year 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th birthday. 120,000 litres of beer were poured. In 1913, the Bräurosl was founded, which was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent of all time, with room for about 12,000 guests.
War yearsFrom 1914 to 1918, World War I prevented the celebration of Oktoberfest. In 1919 and 1920, the two years after the war, Munich celebrated only an "Autumn Fest." In 1923 and 1924, the Oktoberfest was not held due to inflation.
In 1933, the Bavarian white and blue flag was replaced with the swastika flag. From 1939 to 1945, due to World War II, no Oktoberfest took place. From 1946 to 1948, after the war, Munich celebrated only the "Autumn Fest." The sale of proper Oktoberfest beer—2% stronger in alcohol than normal beer—was not permitted; guests had to drink normal beer.
Since its beginnings the Oktoberfest has been cancelled 24 times due to war, disease and other emergencies.
Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening: A twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 by the incumbent Mayor of Munich with the cry "O' zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the Austro-Bavarian language) opens the Oktoberfest. The Mayor then gives the first beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. The first mayor to tap the keg was Thomas Wimmer.
Horse races ended in 1960.
By 1960, the Oktoberfest had turned into an enormous world-famous festival. Since then, foreigners began to picture Germans as wearing the Sennerhut, Lederhosen, and the girls in Dirndl.
Traditional visitors wear during the Oktoberfest 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. Technology helping, this tradition ended with the appearance of cheap goat hair imitations on the market.
There are many problems every year with young people who overestimate their ability to handle large amounts of alcohol. Many forget that Oktoberfest beer has 5.8 to 6.3% alcohol and high sugar content (compared to an average of 5.2% of alcohol and low sugar content in German beer), and they pass out due to drunkenness. These drunk patrons are often called "Bierleichen" (German for "beer corpses").
For them as well as for the general medical treatment of visitors the Bavarian branch of German Red Cross operates an aid facility and provides emergency medical care on the festival grounds, staffed with around 100 volunteer medics and doctors per day. They serve together with special detachments of Munich police, fire department and other municipal authorities in the service center at the Behördenhof (authorities' court), a large building specially built for the Oktoberfest at the east side of the Theresienwiese, just behind the tents. There is also a place for lost & found children, a lost property office, a security point for women and other public services.
To keep the Oktoberfest, and especially the beer tents, friendly for older people and families, the concept of the "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed in 2005. Until 6:00 pm, the tents only play quiet music, for example traditional wind music. Only after that will Schlager and pop music be played, which had led to more violence in earlier years. The music played in the afternoon is limited to 85 decibels. With these rules, the organizers of the Oktoberfest were able to curb the over-the-top party mentality and preserve the traditional beer tent atmosphere.
|Another look inside one of the beer tents|
Since 2005 the last traveling Enterprise ride of Germany, called Mondlift, is back on the Oktoberfest.
Starting in 2008, a new Bavarian law intended to ban smoking in all enclosed spaces that are open to the public, even at the Oktoberfest. Because of problems enforcing the anti-smoking law in the big tents there was an exception for the Oktoberfest 2008, although the sale of tobacco was not allowed. After heavy losses in the 2008 local elections with the smoke ban being a big issue in debates, the state's ruling party meanwhile implemented special exemptions to beer tents and small pubs. The change in regulation is aimed in particular at large tents at the Oktoberfest: So, smoking in the tents is still legal, but the tents usually have non-smoking areas. The sale of tobacco in the tents is now legal, but it's abandoned by agreement. However, in early 2010 a referendum held in Bavaria as a result of a popular initiative re-instituted the original, strict, smoking ban of 2008; thus, no beer will be sold to people caught smoking in the tents. The blanket smoking ban will not take effect until 2011, but all tents will institute the smoking ban this year as to do the "dry run" to identify any unforeseeable issues. The common issue when the smoking ban is in effect is the nauseating stench of stale beer spilled on the floor, which the smoking masked.
2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. For the anniversary, there was a horse race in historical costumes on opening day. A so-called "Historische Wiesn" (historical Oktoberfest) took place, starting one day earlier than usual on the southern part of the festival grounds. A specially brewed beer (solely available at the tents of the historical Oktoberfest), horse races, and a museum tent gave visitors an impression of how the event felt a century ago.
The Oktoberfest is known as the Largest Volksfest (People's Fair) in the World. In 1999 there were six and a half million visitors to the 42 hectare Theresienwiese. 72% of the people are from Bavaria. 15% of visitors come from foreign countries like the surrounding EU-countries and other non-European countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and the Far East.
Besides the Oktoberfest, there are other public festivals that take place at the same location, in April/May: The Munich Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) and Winter Tollwood-Festival in December with 650,000 visitors.
After the Oktoberfest the next people fairs in size in Germany are the Cranger Kirmes in Herne (Wanne-Eickel) (the largest fair in Northrhine-Westphalia) with 4.7 million visitors, the Rheinkirmes in Düsseldorf (called Largest Fair on the Rhine) and the Freimarkt in Bremen (the oldest fair in Germany, held since 1035, and the biggest fair in Northern Germany) with about 4 million visitors per year each, followed by the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart with about 3 million visitors each year and the "Schützenfest Hannover", the world's largest marksmen's Fun Fair in Hanover with about 2 million visitors per year.
Oktoberfest Figures (2010)
- Area: 0.42 km2 (103.78 acres)
- Seats in the festival halls: approx. 100,000
- Visitors: 6.4 million
- Beer: appr. 7,100,000 litres (151,200 litres non-alcoholic)
- Wine: 89,259 liters
- Sparkling wine: 37,733 litres
- Coffee and tea: 245,335 litres
- Water and lemonade: 1,028,522 ½ litres
- Chicken: 505,901 units
- Pork sausages: 119,302 pairs
- Fish: 40,850 kg
- Pork knuckles (haxen): 69,293 units
- Oxen: 119 units
- Expenditure of electricity: 2.96 million kWh (as much as 14% of Munich's daily requirements or as much as a four person family will need in 52 years and 4 months)
- Expenditure of gas: about 198,489 m3
- Expenditure of water: about 107,489 m3 (as much as 27% of Munich's daily requirements )
- Waste: 678 t (2004)
- Toilets: about 980 seats, more than 878 meters of urinals and 17 for disabled persons
- Phone booths: 83, also for international credit cards
- Lost property: about 4000 items, among them 260 pairs of glasses, 200 mobile phones, wedding rings, and even crutches.
Garbage and toiletsNearly 1,000 tons of garbage result annually from the Oktoberfest. The mountains of garbage created are hauled away and the ways cleanly washed down each morning. The cleaning is paid for in part by the city of Munich and in part by the sponsors.
In 2004 the queues outside the toilets became so long that the police had to regulate the entrance. To keep traffic moving through the restrooms, men headed for the toilets were directed to the urinals (giant enclosed grate) if they only needed to urinate. Consequently, the number of toilets was increased by 20 % in 2005. Approximately 1,800 toilets and urinals are available at this time.
Many Oktoberfest guests visit the quiet stalls in order to use their cell phones. For this reason there were plans in 2005 to install a Faraday cage around the toilets or to use Mobile phone jammers to prevent telephoning with a mobile telephone. Jamming devices are, however, illegal in Germany, and Faraday cages made of copper would have been too expensive, so these ambitious plans were dropped, and signs were placed instead, warning toilet users not to use cell phones in the stalls.
There are currently fourteen large tents and twenty small tents at the Oktoberfest. The tents themselves are non-permanent structures which are constructed for and only used during the festival. The beer (or wine) served in each is in the accompanying table.
- Hippodrom – One of the larger tents, it's the first tent that many visitors see at the fest. As well as serving normal Wiesn beer, it has a Sekt (sparkling wine) bar and Maß of Weißbier. Considered one of the trendiest tents, and attracts the occasional celebrity. Traditionally in the evening the Oktoberfest band the Münchner Zwietracht plays all the Oktoberfest classics.
- Armbrustschützenzelt – Translates as the "Crossbow Shooters Tent", a competition that has been a part of the Oktoberfest since 1895.
- Hofbräu-Festzelt – The counterpart to the famous Hofbräuhaus, this tent is especially popular with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders.
- Hacker-Festzelt – One of the largest tents on the Wiesn, they have a rock band that plays from 5:30 each evening (as opposed to the traditional brass band). This tent is also known as "Himmel der Bayern" (Heaven of the Bavarians).
- Schottenhamel – Reckoned to be the most important tent at the Oktoberfest, mainly because it is where it starts. On the first Saturday of the event, no beer is allowed to be served until the mayor of Munich (currently Christian Ude) taps the first keg, at 12 pm. Only then can the other tents begin to serve beer. Very popular amongst younger people. A substantial part of the tent is guaranteed to traditional Studentenverbindungen (a particular form of student fraternities) and outfitted with their distinctive colors and coats of arms.
- Winzerer Fähndl – This tent is noted for its huge tower, with a Maß of Paulaner beer sitting atop it.
- Schützen-Festhalle – This is a mid-sized tent. Situated under the Bavaria statue, the current te
- nt was newly built in 2004.
- Käfers Wiesen Schänke – The smallest of the large tents at the Oktoberfest, it is frequented by celebrities, and is known for its especially good food. In contrast to the other tents (which must close by 11 pm), it is open until 12:30 am, but it can be very difficult to get in.
- Weinzelt – This tent offers a selection of more than 15 wines, as well as Weißbier.
- Löwenbräu-Festhalle – Above the entrance is a 4.50 meter (15 foot) lion who occasionally drinks from his beer. This is overshadowed by another tower where another drinking lion sits.
- Bräurosl (Hacker-Pschorr) – Named after the daughter of the original brewery owner (Pschorr), this tent has the usual brass band and a yodeler.
- Augustiner-Festhalle – Considered by many locals to be the best tent, due to the fact it sells the favourite local brew, Augustiner, from individually tapped wooden kegs rather than stainless steel vats used by the other tents.
- Ochsenbraterei – True to its name, this tent offers a great variety of ox dishes.
- Fischer Vroni – Another of the smaller tents. Fisch is the German word for fish and this tent carries a huge selection in its menu.
- Able's Kalbs-Kuchl – Resembling a large Bavarian hut, the “calf kitchen” is traditional and inviting yet still has a lively party atmosphere Oktoberfest fans crave.
- Ammer Hühner & Entenbraterei – In 1885, poultry dealer Joseph Ammer was allowed to construct his small booth at the Oktoberfest, creating the world’s first chicken roastery.
- Bodo's Cafezelt – Don’t come to Bodo’s looking for beer. Instead you’ll find, exotic cocktails, Prosecco, champagne, coffee, donuts, ice cream, pastry, and strudel variations of all kinds.
- Burtscher's Bratwursthütt´n – The smallest tent of the Oktoberfest, its unique atmosphere makes for a relaxing change from the larger tents.
- Café Kaiserschmarrn – Beautifully created by Rischart, the Café holds a daily commemoration of the occasion of the first Oktoberfest – the wedding of Ludwig I and Therese of Saxony.
- Café Mohrenkopf – Since 1950 Café Mohrenkopf has been baking cakes and pies fresh daily in the Oktoberfest tent.
- Feisingers Ka's und Weinstubn – Cheese and everything that complements the cheese is the specialty of the house in this unique tent.
- Glöckle Wirt – A visual treat, decorated with oil paintings, antique instruments and cooking utensils, the Glöckle Wirt offers its visitors an authentic Oktoberfest experience in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
- Heimer Hendl- und Entenbraterei – Very popular among the locals, Heimer’s is a family-friendly tent where authentic Oktoberfest tradition is timeless.
- Heinz Wurst- Und Hühnerbraterei – Since 1906, the Heinz Sausage and Chicken Grill has been a fixture on the Wiesn, specializing in authentic Oktoberfest tradition.
- Hochreiters Haxnbraterei – Quality is paramount in Hochreiter’s tent, where their BBQ experts prepare mouth-watering pork knuckles in the only haxenbraterei on the Wiesn.
- Münchner Knödelei – The dumpling is an icon of Bavarian cuisine, and “preserving and spreading the dumpling culture” is the motto of this smaller tent.
- Poschners Hühner- Und Entenbraterei – Poschner’s famous roasted chicken and duck has been a tradition on the Wiesn for four generations.
- Schiebl's Kaffeehaferl – With seating for about 100, Schiebl’s comfy coffeehouse tent is a friendly meeting place for the whole family.
- Wiesn Guglhupf Café-Dreh-Bar – A Guglhupf is a German cake, like an English bundt cake, and this slowly moving carousel bar is easy to spot because it’s shaped like one.
- Wildmoser Hühnerbraterei – Owned by family Wildmoser since 1981, this small tent has been adopted and popularized by the Munich locals.
- Wildstuben – The newest tent at Oktoberfest, you’ll appreciate the intricate details of the woodwork and the homey hunting lodge ambiance.
- Wirtshaus im Schichtl – The mayor Christian Ude once wrote: "An Oktoberfest without Schichtl is inconceivable. The Schichtl is as essential as the beer, the radical and the chicken."
- Zum Stiftl – Zum Stiftl is famous for its traditional duck and roasted chicken dishes, cozy atmosphere, and daily entertainment.
- Zur Bratwurst – Debuting in 2007, the Hochreiter family have brought back the former Bratwurstglöckl in the spirit of good old Munich Oktoberfest.