Celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich
Published Sept/Oct 2005

Munich is best known around the world for its Oktoberfest — the world’s largest and most popular festival. On average, 7 million visitors from around the world come to this most visited of German cities for a festival that originated 195 years ago as a royal wedding celebration.

On Oct. 12, 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, and all the residents of Munich were invited to join in the wedding celebration in the field in front of the old city gates. In honor of the bride, this area was thereafter named Theresienwiese (“Therese’s meadow”), and, today, her statue watches over the festivities. In fact, Bavarians affectionately refer to Oktoberfest as “Wies’n.” It’s held annually from the second-to-last Saturday of September until the first Sunday of October.

During the marriage celebration, the royal family commissioned horse races to mark the close of the event. The decision to repeat the horse races the following year began the tradition of an annual Oktoberfest. In 1811, Munich added an agricultural show to the popular horse races. A few years later, in 1818, the city added a carousel and two swings.

Visitors were able to purchase beverages at a number of beer stands, which quickly grew in size to the huge tents presently found on the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. Today, only those establishments that brew their beer in Munich are allowed to set up tents in the Theresienwiese.

There are 16 different beer tents and breweries represented at Oktoberfest. The most famous and most popular with Americans is the Hofbrau-Festzelt. Others include the Hippodrom, the Armbrustschuetzen-Festhalle, the Spatenbrau-Festhalle, Fischer-Vroni, Hacherbrau, Augustiner, Schottenhamel, Lowenbrau, Pschorrbrau, Paulaner, Kaefer’s Wies’nschaenke, and the Wein-und Sektzelt. These tents are built and torn down each season, with construction beginning at the end of July.

More than 6 million liters of beer and 1.5 thousand liters of non-alcoholic beer, 40 thousand liters of wine, 1.9 thousand cups of coffee and tea, 700,000 chickens, 160,000 pairs of pork sausage, over 62,000 pork knuckles, and 16 kilograms of fish are consumed each year. The festival employs more than 12,000 people.

Oktoberfest begins Saturday morning with a grand entrance of the Munchner Kindl (Munich’s mascot) on horseback followed by the Lord Mayor of Munich. Brewers ride in on ornately decorated horses and carriages. Behind them are floats with waitresses and bands. After the parade, the Lord Mayor taps the first keg and shouts “Ozapft is!” (It’s tapped!), and the 16-daylong party begins.

Book a DER, Rail Europe Group Company, Oktoberfest package with your AAA Travel professional, and come join the fun in 2005, when Munich celebrates its 195th annual Oktoberfest celebration.

^ to top | previous page

Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part unless expressly authorized in writing by AAA Traveler Magazines.