Table of Contents
- The History of the Oktoberfest
- The Royal Party
- The Modern Munich Celebration
- 16 Days, Millions of People, and some Big Beer Tents
- Oktoberfest Facts
- The German Beer Institute
- How do they produce Oktoberfest beer?
- How much designated Oktoberfest beer is used?
- Why does Germany celebrate Oktoberfest?
- What kinds of beer are served during Oktoberfest?
- What kinds of German food are served during Oktoberfest?
- When does Oktoberfest begin?
- How long does Oktoberfest last?
- Is Oktoberfest only held in Munich, Germany?
- What are some popular attractions at Oktoberfest?
- How many people go to Oktoberfest every year?
- Where is Oktoberfest held?
- How much does it cost to buy a beer mug during Oktoberfest?
- How long has the tradition of Oktoberfest been around?
- What is Oktoberfest in Germany called?
The History of the Oktoberfest
The Oktoberfest isn’t just for Germans anymore. People have flocked to Germany from all parts of the globe to participate in the world’s largest annual festival for nearly 200 years.
In addition to the two-week celebration in Munich, the Bavarian capital where the tradition began, Oktoberfest is enjoyed in one form or another in cities and towns worldwide.
The Royal Party
Wondering how this great celebration Oktoberfest began?
Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who has later crowned King Ludwig I, wanted his people to share in the celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810.
Ludwig organized a horse race and invited all the people of Munich.
The royal party drew about 40,000 guests a major rager, by ordinary standards, but only a small fraction of the 6.4 million people at Oktoberfest in 1997.
A good time, and copious amounts of beer, were apparently had by all that first year. It was decided that the horse race would be held again in 1811, this time in conjunction with the state agricultural show.
The Modern Munich Celebration
Although the horse race was eventually abandoned, many characteristics of the early Oktoberfest celebrations have been retained, if not expanded upon.
Munich’s annual celebration is still held on the original site, Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”), in front of the city gates.
The agricultural show continues to be a feature, though it is only held every third year now. The tradition of beer and food stands, begun in 1818, continues today and is perhaps the most significantly developed aspect of Oktoberfest.
See Related: How to Plan a Trip to Germany
16 Days, Millions of People, and some Big Beer Tents
The modern celebration has replaced the small tents with giant brewery-sponsored beer halls that can hold up to 5,000 people apiece. The party has also grown in length, to become a 16-day extravaganza ending the first Sunday in October.
The Oktoberfest in Munich has been canceled at times in the past due to war and cholera.
The festival opens with a grand parade of the Oktoberfest “landlords” and breweries, and features traditional dancers and costumed performers, the Riflemen’s Procession, music, and, most definitely, beer!
- In 1997, Oktoberfesters consumed more than 5 million liters of beer, about 45,000 liters of wine, and almost 165,000 liters of nonalcoholic beer.
- The local name for Oktoberfest, “Wies’n,” is derived from Theresienwiese, the name of the field on which the festival is held.
- The festival halls in Munich can seat 94,000 people.
- The beers that the Munich breweries produce specially for Oktoberfest contain 4.5 percent alcohol.
- Cincinnati, Ohio, which claims to hold the “largest authentic Oktoberfest” in the U.S., draws about 500,000 people to its celebration.
The German Beer Institute
The German beer tradition started in the Middle Ages. The German Beer Purity Law of 1516 decreed that only three ingredients could be used in the production of beer: barley, hops, and water.
In 1993, Americans drank an average of 28 gallons of beer a person. Germans drank about 38 gallons a person.
To this day, a brewery is not allowed to hang a banner or advertisement on any of the six Munich tents on Oktoberfest grounds.
The cost to rent a large beer tent for the festival is about $340,000.
How do they produce Oktoberfest beer?
Everything that goes into the beer contains “the good water” (Bayerischer Bahnhof means “Bavarian railroad station”), drawn from wells in and around by Munich brewers.
The malt is made in traditional ways with German malt, hops, yeast, and no preservatives.
Oktoberfest beer must maintain a minimum original gravity of 12.7% and a minimum alcohol content of 6.0%.
The beer is stored in traditional oak casks, then served to festival guests in one-liter beer mugs.
How much designated Oktoberfest beer is used?
On the first day of Oktoberfest alone, 7.3 million visitors drink 6.5 million liters of beer served on beer mugs in beer gardens and big tents.
More than 200,000 chickens and 114 whole oxen are prepared for the festival grounds by butchers, who must be among the most proficient in the world to keep up with the demand.
The Oktoberfest meals served to fairgoers are accompanied by more than 15,000 loaves of white bread and 24,000 hot pretzels.
Why does Germany celebrate Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The festivities began the next year and were so popular that they have been repeated ever since.
The Oktoberfest in Munich is the world’s largest fair and has become a global phenomenon. About 6 million people attend the 16-day festival every year, where they drink 7.5 million liters of beer served in 1.7 million one-liter beer mugs or steins.
The event has come to be regarded as an important part of Bavarian dialect, culture, and society, and residents of Munich locals and southern Bavaria look forward to it all year long. Many of the traditions and customs associated with Oktoberfest, such as the wearing of traditional costumes and the drinking of beer from large steins, have become popular around the world.
The festival is now celebrated in many countries outside of Germany, including the United States, Canada, and Australia, and in 2007, about five million people attended Oktoberfest celebrations around the world.
The Oktoberfest has been a German tradition in celebrating Bavarian culture, modern events may differ from the past but still, some are the same especially the enjoyment of not only beer but also food and festivities. And what’s important is that this German tradition is also celebrated around the world.
What kinds of beer are served during Oktoberfest?
Amber, Dark, Wheat. Märzen, Pilsner, Wheat Beer.
What kinds of German food are served during Oktoberfest?
Bavarian food such as Schweinebraten (roast pork), Weißwurst (a white sausage), and Sauerkraut.
When does Oktoberfest begin?
Oktoberfest begins in late September and ends the first weekend in October.
How long does Oktoberfest last?
16 days. The opening day of the official Oktoberfest celebration is from 00:00 (CEST) on the third Saturday of September until midnight (CEST) on the first Sunday in October.
Is Oktoberfest only held in Munich, Germany?
No, Oktoberfest is also celebrated in other countries such as the United States and Canada.
What are some popular attractions at Oktoberfest?
Dancers in traditional costume or historical costumes, marching bands, carnival rides, food & beer tents, music, and Riflemen parade.
How many people go to Oktoberfest every year?
Around 6 million people.
Where is Oktoberfest held?
In Munich, Germany.
How much does it cost to buy a beer mug during Oktoberfest?
It costs 9.70 € (11 US dollars) for one full Mass (1 liter) of beer.
How long has the tradition of Oktoberfest been around?
What is Oktoberfest in Germany called?