Oktoberfest is a 16-day folk festival celebrated in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is also the world’s largest Volksfest, which are German events that combine beer festivals with traveling funfairs.
Oktoberfest first emerged on October 12, 1910 when King Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Citizens of Munich celebrated the marriage in fields leading to the city gates. These fields were named ‘Theresienwiese’ in honor of the Princess. The wedding celebrations ended on October 17th with horse races and until 1960, horse races were held annually. Eventually, carnivals, amusement rides, food booths, beer tents and parades were all added to the celebrations. Today, Oktoberfest is still held annually at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds in Munich although there are no longer any horse races. Oktoberfest celebrations have also spread globally, becoming synonymous with beer and German culture. This festival usually starts on the third weekend of September and ends on the first weekend of October.
- According to tradition, beer tents at the Oktoberfest can only sell beer that has been brewed in Munich. The beer has to adhere to the Bavarian Purity Requirements called Reinheitsgebot.
The six breweries allowed at the Oktoberfest include:
2) Hacker Pschorr
- Since Oktoberfest is still held on the Theresienweise, locals refer to Oktoberfest as Wies'n.
- Beer served at the Oktoberfest is poured in mugs called Maß. A Maß is made of clear glass, so that the consumer can see whether the Maß is full or not. Maß also contains a calibration mark to which beer must be filled and the calibration mark has to amount to 1-liter. If a Maß is not completely filled, or the calibration mark falls below the true 1 liter position, or if there is no calibration mark, then the seller can be prosecuted for committing fraud. Verein gegen betrügerisches Einschenken is a Munich-based organization that monitors whether glasses are being completely filled or not.
- Traditional German clothing for Oktoberfest includes a Sennerhut. Sennerhut is a woollen hat that may have symbols of a person’s hometown, or is embroidered with bright flowers. For a measure of good luck, some people add goat hair on the hat. Men traditionally wear Lederhosen, which are leather breeches, while women wear Dirndl. A dirndl is a dress that consists of a bodice, blouse, skirt and apron.
- In 2015, 5,900,000 visitors attended Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Approximately 7.3 million liters of beer was consumed and the average 1-litre mug of beer cost approximately 10.22 euros.
Oktoberfest Top Events and Things to Do
- Attend the real Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
- Try the only beer that adheres to Bavarian Purity Requirements (Reinheitsgebot), and which is sold at the Oktoberfest, including:
2) Hacker Pschorr
- Try traditional Oktoberfest food:
1) Bavarian Brez’n, a soft pretzel that is served with sausage and mustards
2) Sausages including Bratwurst, Weisswurst, or Currywurst
3) Slow roasted ox
4) Rotisserie chicken
5) Schweinshaxe which is a pickled ham served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes
- Celebrate Oktoberfest at beer gardens in the United States. Here are some recommendations:
1) Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2) Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan
3) Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California
4) Fremont Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington
5) Draught House Pub & Brewery in Austin, Texas
6) Frankford Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7) Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Brooklyn, New York
8) Cisco Brewers in Nantucket, Massachusetts
9) Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in San Diego, California
10) Der Biergarten in Atlanta, Georgia
11) Rhein Haus in Seattle, Washington
12) Wurstküche in Los Angeles, California
- Host an Oktoberfest party. Try different German beers and Oktoberfest dishes including sausages and soft pretzels and even dress up in traditional Oktoberfest clothing called Tracht , including a dirndl for women and a lederhosen for men.