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Oktoberfest

Germany You may have heard about Oktoberfest, but do you know what is and how it started?

Germany


Oktoberfest Girl in front of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest tent, Markburger83

When is Oktoberfest?

Year Starts Ends
2015 19 September 4 October
2016 17 September 3 October
2017 23 September 8 October

Over five Million people visit the Oktoberfest in Munich, consuming more than five Million litres of beer and eat 440,000 chickens!

The festival itself is held in a series of massive beer tents which are surrounded by stalls and amusements, but how did it all start?

The Wiesn - from a wedding to the largest public festival in the world!

It all began with the wedding of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig I) to princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese or Therese’s green) on October 12, 1810.

A cabman called Franz Baumgartner suggested celebrating the marriage with a horse race organized by the National Guard to ensure that the Bavarian folk could also partake in the wedding celebration. Much to everyone's delight, free beer and snacks were provided.

It was decided that the festival should be repeated at the same time the following year, combined with a livestock show. (Every three years this "central agricultural festival" takes place on the southern part of the Theresienwiese.) This marked the birth of the “October-Festivals”. By 1830, 60,000 people were enjoying Oktoberfest festivities in 19 beer tents and an annual tradition had beenfirmly established.

As Munich was considerably smaller in the past, the proprietors and event organizers went out to the Wiesn for the starting ceremonies. This tradition is still reflected today with the entry of the tent proprietors on Saturday morning in the parade.

The mayor Thomas Wimmer first started the well-known tradition of tapping the beer keg in the 1950s. The mayor taps the first keg on the first Wiesn-Saturday at exactly 12:00pm and calls out “O’zapft is’!” (which means the keg has been tapped). Since then, the mayor has always tapped the first keg.

But the Wiesn also has its dark side: 13 visitors were killed in a bomb attack at the main entrance in 1980 and over 200 were seriously injured. The Wiesn has been cancelled a total of 24 times in its history. The reasons were: war, cholera and inflation.


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