Oktoberfest was first held in 1810 in Munich, Germany, as a way to celebrate the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Munich residents were invited to attend the celebration and German immigrants later carried the tradition with them to their new homes in other countries. Thanks to those immigrants and their descendents, the festival is now celebrated all over the world — from Canada and the United States, to Mexico and Hong Kong.
The German Oktoberfest is a 16 to 18 day beer festival, usually beginning in late September and running through early October. This year it is from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. Next year, it will run from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7. It is steeped in tradition, with last year marking the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. It attracts millions of people from Germany and all over the world. In fact, it is referred to as the largest Volksfest (or People’s Fair) in the world. Best of all, the festival is free to visitors. And those millions of people are all there to do two things — eat and drink. Today’s Oktoberfest is all about the beer and the food.
Munich’s Oktoberfest boasts 14 different large and 20 small beer tents. According to Wikipedia, more than 7 million liters of beer are consumed. Each tent boasts different attractions, traditions, and beer. For example, the Schottenhamel tent is widely considered the most important because that is where the festivities begin.
No beer is to be served at Oktoberfest until the first Saturday of the festival when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg at noon. Once that occurs, all of the other tents can begin serving their beer to their visitors. Other tents are known for their wine selections, rock music performances, and celebrity sightings. Tents also specialize in food, offering everything from specialty cheeses and baked goods, to barbecue and dumplings.
For those who can’t make the trek to Munich for the original Oktoberfest, the good times, music, food, and drinking can also be found at hundreds of Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States. North America’s largest Oktoberfest is in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is called Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. More than 500,000 people attend each year. Local Oktoberfest celebrations can also be found in American cities large and small including Chicago, Denver, Boston, Las Vegas, and New York.
So whether you are of German heritage or not, you can find a place to celebrate Oktoberfest.
Author: Megan Donley