Its time for that beerfest again when the annual oktoberfest started today in Munich for the 181th time. Ive been here in 2010 and in 2011 and think this is the greatest party in the world.
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest funfair and beer festival held annually in Munich, Germany. It is a 16 day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called Weisn after the name of the fairground (Theresienwiese). 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 original Munich event.
The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich’s center. Large quantities of Oktoberfest beer are consumed, with almost 7 million litres served each year. Visitors may also enjoy a mixture of attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls and games, as well as a wide variety of traditional food such as Hendl (roasted chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork) Schweinhaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausage) along with Brezen (pretzel), Knodel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasespatzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancake), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig 1, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. 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 were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wiesn”.
Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.
“The festival was eventually prolonged and moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October. In 2006, the Oktoberfest extended two extra days because the first Tuesday, October 3, was a national holiday. Over the past 200 years, Oktoberfest has been cancelled 24 times to cholera epidemics and war.
In 1811, an agricultural show was added to promote Bavarian agriculture. The horse race persisted until 1960, the agricultural show still exists and 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 decided to make the Oktoberfest an annual event. Later, it was
lengthened and the date pushed forward, because days are longer and warmer at the end of September.
To honor 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 an annual event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. Eight thousand people—mostly from Bavaria—in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street through the centre of Munich to the Oktoberfest grounds.
In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was completed. In 1854, the festival was cancelled after 3,000 residents of Munich died during a cholera epidemic. There was no Oktoberfest in 1866 because Bavaria was involved in the Austro Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco Prussian War forced the cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was cancelled due to another cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated more than 400 booths and tents. In 1881, booths selling bratwurst 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. Organizers wanted more room for guests and musicians. The booths became beer halls.
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 serves as the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration
In 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th anniversary. Some 120,000 litres of beer were poured. In 1913, the Bräurosl was founded, which was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent ever, with room for ~ 12,000 people.
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 dialect) opens the Oktoberfest. The Mayor then gives the first beer to the Minister President of the statue of Bavaria.
Before the festival officially starts at 12 PM, there are the famous parades of the traditional gun clubs, waitresses and landlords of the tents. Mostly there are two different parades which both ends at the Theresienwiesn.
Horse races ended in 1960.
By 1960, the Oktoberfest had become a world-famous festival. Since then, foreigners began to picture Germans as wearing the Sennerhut, Lederhosen and the girls in Dirndl.
2010 marked 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.
Most recently, in 2013, 6.4 million people visited Oktoberfest, and the festival served 6.7 million liters of beer.
More information here:
More pictures here: (the pictures are taken at the festival in 2010 and 2011)