2017: 16 September – 3 October
Oktoberfest. The one word that easily conjures up visions of dirndl and lederhosen-wearing visitors raising up massive steins of frothy beverages and singing to the top of their lungs. This is Oktoberfest, More than six million visitors attend THE world’s largest festival every year loaded with thrilling rides, fantastic fest food and, of course, beer. If you want to experience the festive party feeling along with the German culture then this is indeed the place to visit. Even if you’re not much of a crowd person, you should put this on your bucket list and experience the awesome fest at least once.
The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. (October 12th also happens to be my birthday, so Oktoberfest was the perfect place for me to celebrate my birthday!) Every year, the citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over a period of five days on the fields in front of the city gates. Over 40,000 people were in attendance. Today, an average of 6 million of people attend the annual celebration.
Did you know horse races were held at the first Oktoberfest? But by 1819 the horse races had been called off and were replaced by beer carts and the carnival-like atmosphere. Munich leaders decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions! Although Oktoberfest originated as a one-day celebration, it was extended to 16 days (starting in September) of revelry and heavy drinking.
Believe it or not, in the beginning, beer was not available at Oktoberfest and alcohol could only be purchased and enjoyed outside of the actual venue. Traditional beer halls (called wooden halls) only became popular when the authorities realized it would make sense to open the Oktoberfest venue to vendors.
Today, only six breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spaten — are allowed to serve beer on the festival grounds. The beers are made specifically for Oktoberfest and certain parameters must strictly be followed according to Reinheitsgebot such as it should be brewed within the boundaries of Munich and not contain more than 6% alcohol.
Once you are finished toasting with thousands of your newest friends, head on over to Marienplatz in the Munich Altstadt for traditional Bavarian-style craft beer and try one of the beer-infused dishes for dinner.
Visitors: 6.3 million
Beer: approx. 6.4 mln liters (that’s right, million)
Coffee, tea: 222,000 liters
Water, lemonade: 909,765 ½ liters
Chicken: 521,872 units
Pork sausages: 142,253 pairs
The most popular (legal) souvenirs are the collectors’ stone mug, hair bands with flowers, mini beer steins, and pins. The glass mugs themselves are a hot item. Security guards recovered approximately 112,000 from would-be souvenir hunters. Many are not recovered; the Hofbräu tent alone averages 35,000 missing mugs each year and there is a fine for stealing them!
For all the information and full schedule of Oktoberfest events, go online at www.oktoberfest.de. It’s recommended to learn at least one German song so you can sing along with your new best friends. As is every year, there’s a hard competition about which song was the most popular in the beer tents. Apart from the usual hits, it was “Atemlos” by Helene Fischer, “Auf uns” by Andreas Bourani and “Brenna tuats guat” by Hubert von Goisern that made the tents go especially crazy.
Every year, more than 4,000 objects are found. The Lost and Found office houses jackets, sweaters, passports, wallets, keys, ID cards, mobile phones, bags and rucksacks, cameras, eyeglasses, jewelry, and watches; there have also been some unusual items found, such as wedding-rings, petticoats, a dental prosthesis, a set of cymbals and a transport box for cats. Missing kids and teenagers are taken care of by the Red Cross or municipal authorities until they are reunited. During Oktoberfest, the Lost and Found (Wiesn-Fundbüro) service center is set up on the Theresienwiese (entrance line, underground). You can find the service center behind the Schottenhamel-Festzelt.
On Saturday, September 16th, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Once the barrel has been tapped, all visitors will then be allowed to quench their thirst. It pays to arrive early in order to experience the festivities up close and personal and it’s quite common for visitors to arrive as early as 09.00 am to secure good seats in their favorite tent. The festival lasts until October 3rd.
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12:00 noon – 11:30 pm. Last beer serving at 10:30
Weekdays 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09:00 am – 10:30 pm
Daily closing hour 11.30 pm ‘Käfers Wiesnschänke’ and ‘Weinzelt’ open until 1.00 am
The fairgrounds are open on the opening day from 12:00 to 24:00.
On Sundays and Mondays to Thursdays, the carousels run from 10:00 to 23:30.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the fairgrounds are open from 10:00 to 24:00.
Please note that it is not advisable to bring children on weekends; for example, during the weekend, especially in the huts or even at the entrance to the Festwiese, you may be denied access by a baby carriage.
The official family days are on Tuesdays until 7 pm and offer reduced prices at almost all suppliers.
22 September to 7 October
- Go Germany This October for Oktoberfest (moonmicrosystem1.wordpress.com)
- Munich: Finalize Your Oktoberfest Plans Right Now. No, Seriously. (jaunted.com)
- Oktoberfest Comes Early (npr.org)