Oktoberfest in Munich
Many of us see the Oktoberfest as the famous, ultimate, kind of destructive, alcohol fest in Germany. However, the Oktoberfest has a rich history, known for its cultural highlights and great traditions. In general, people often think the Oktoberfest is a typical German thing, but the truth is different. The Oktoberfest, called Wiesn by locals, is a blown up local feast from the county of Bayern/Bavaria, rich of local customs and traditions. Nowadays the event counts over 6 million international visitors carrying nationalities from countries throughout our whole planet.
The origins of Oktoberfest
The roots of the Oktoberfest are nested in history, more than 200 years ago. On the 12th of October 1980, a 5 day feast took off, in honor of Bayern’s prince Ludwig and his prinses Teresa of Sassonia-Hildbughausen. This Royal feast, predecessor of Oktoberfissa ;), was celebrated on a meadow on the edge of the city. This meadow was later named Theresienwiese (abbreviated Wiesn) after the beautiful princes Theresa. The wedding festivities ended with a big feast and horse races, where all citizens of Bayern were welcome. This feast was a grand success and the foundation had been laid for the Oktoberfest we visit nowadays! Since the beginning Oktoberfest has been celebrated almost every year, with exception of 24 times due to war/epedemics. In 2010 the 200 year anniversary was greatly celebrated.
From 1811, next to the horse races, an agriculture fair was organized in order to promote the agricultural and economic activities of Bavaria. Where the horse races officially stopped in 1960, once every 4 years the traditional agricultural fair is organized on the south side of the Wiesn.
In 1813 the event was canceled because of the wars against Napoleon in Europe. Oktoberfest had a new dimension in 1818 when the first attractions were added to the festival. Since 1819 the Oktoberfest was arranged from the city administration, the duration of the event was extended and the date of the Oktoberfest was changed so the visitors could enjoy longer and warmer days in September. In 1850 the statue of Bavaria was placed at the edge of the Theresienwiese, the patronage keeps an eye on the Oktoberfest from here. Years passed and finally the Oktoberfest focus has shifted from the horse racing and an agricultural fair to a good beer & food festival with carnival rides and lots of extra activities.
A black page in the history book of the Oktoberfest is the terrorist attack at the main entrance in 1980. Thirteen people died and over 200 people were injured. At the main entrance of the Theresienwiese is a monument to commemorate the victims.
The mayor (Oberbürgermeister) of Munich, Thomas Wimmer, started in 1950 with the now traditional opening of the famous Oktoberfest: the tapping of the first beer keg! Nowadays, on the first Saturday of the ‘Wiesn’, the mayor still taps the first beer from the first wooden cask at exactly 12:00 pm and then yells “O’zapft is!” (This means that the barrel is tapped). Only after the mayor has tapped the first beer the beer tents may give beer to the visitors of Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest has grown and grown over the years. Today, the event 16 days and begins on the first Saturday at exactly 12:00 pm when the mayor has tapped the first beer. The festival is open every day and on weekends, people from all over the world come to visit the Oktoberfest. Visitors, especially the people of Bavaria, dress in traditional clothing. The women wear a beautiful Dirndl and men will wear a Lederhosen. The Oktoberfest area consists of 14 huge beer tents and larg fair with crazy rollercoasters and other rides. The “Wiesn” is an international melting pot of nationalities and is suitable for young and old souls eager for a huge glass of beer!