Guest Author - Nadine Shores
Lift your maβ and say Prost! Let’s celebrate Oktoberfest! Here is some history of the festival, things to do there, and tips about how to enjoy Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Oktoberfest was originally held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in October 1810. Theresienwiese, or the “Meadow of Therese” is the name of the fairgrounds where the festival is held every year from late September to the first weekend in October. It lasts from16 to 18 days depending the dates on which it falls.
The celebration starts with "O'zapft is" ("The keg is tapped"), and the first maβ (pronounced mass) is filled. There is a parade on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest. It winds through the streets of Munich and is led by the Münchner Kindl. The Münchner Kindl (Munich Child) is a representation of the figure on the Munich coat of arms.
Once you arrive at the Theresienwiese (known locally as the Weisen) you will be greeted by carnival rides, roller coasters, musicians and huge halls (called tents). These tents are erected for specific breweries seat anywhere from as few as 60 to as many as 8,500 people under their roof. Only specific Munich brewed beers are allowed to be sold and served and Oktoberfest beer is stronger than normal. It is sold in Maβ, which is a glass mug that holds one liter of beer. Be forewarned! Unless you buy a mug as a souvenir, do not try to take one home! Do not let a trip to the police station ruin your fun!
It is free to enter the fairgrounds but you have to be seated at a table to get served beer and can be difficult to secure a spot, especially on weekends. Tents do accept reservations but these sell out early in the year and are limited.
It averages between 5 and 7 million visitors. The organizers have worked towards making the festival appealing to all ages by having “quiet tents” and limiting the loudness of the music.
Food includes, wurst (sausages), Wiener Schnitzel (veal cutlet), Kasseler Rippchen (smoked pork chop), Knödel (Potato Dumplings), Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) , Rotkraut (red cabbage) and sauerkraut.
Other European locations which celebrate Oktoberfest type festivals include:
Parking can be difficult so it is recommended take the train to the site. It can be accessed by either the Munich U-Bahn or Munich S-Bahn The U-Bahn is the underground railway system and the S-Bahn is the suburban or city system.