The Oktoberfest beer festival, held every year at Theresienwiese in the city of Munich in Bavaria, in the event of the year for serious (and not so serious) beer drinkers from across Germany and far beyond.
This annual beer festival extravaganza, which claims to be the world’s best-attended fair. Oktoberfest start date is not fixed – usually it is in mid-September and lasts through the first weekend in October.
When does Oktoberfest start in Germany –September or October?
When asked why the Oktoberfest starts in September, some people simply reply: “German efficiency!” In fact, the earlier start date is scheduled for good reason: in September, the evenings are warmer and daylight lasts longer, which encourages more people to participate. If it wasn’t for tradition, the beer festival would perhaps have been known as the Septemberfest!
Why did Oktoberfest start
Munich’s first Oktoberfest was organized in October 1810 as a celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The party lasted for five days and because everybody had enjoyed such a good time, the Oktoberfest rapidly became an annual feature of the Munich social calendar.
Over the years, extra entertainment such as fairground rides, music, and dancing, were added to the festivities. The celebration now lasts up to fifteen days, broadening the appeal of the popular Oktoberfest.
What kind of beer is Oktoberfest? Basic Oktoberfest facts
The beer festival is held in Munich at a place called Theresienwiese. The local inhabitants call this area (and the beer festival itself) “die Wiesn”, which means “the meadow” in Bavarian dialect.
Fourteen huge wooden-framed tents are set up at the Wiesn. The largest one, the Hacker-Festzelt tent, contains seating for 9,300 people. The smallest, the Kafers Wisen Schränke tent, holds only 1,000 people but has an additional 1,900 seats directly outside.
Did you know that…
…only six local Bavarian breweries are allowed to supply the Oktoberfest beer festival: Spaten, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Paulaner?
Oktoberfest brews are predominantly types of Märzen beer. These malty, medium-bodied beers are brewed in the springtime and allowed to mature for a few months; they are then in perfect condition for consumption during the Oktoberfest. In addition to the traditional Märzen beers, some tents serve Weissbier (white beer), wine and sekt (sparkling wine).
Beer is poured out into a one-liter tankard called a ‘Mass’. The waitresses have to be strong because, in each hand, they carry at least five Mass (every one weighing about 1.5 kg or three pounds) on their rounds to thirsty customers.
German oompah brass bands provide much of the musical accompaniment to the beer festival, although rock bands perform in some tents to attract younger drinkers.
Along with the beer, large quantities of food are consumed at the Oktoberfest. Traditional German cuisine is at the forefront: roast chicken, beef, venison, bratwurst and other sausages, fish and sauerkraut.
Alternative worldwide Oktoberfest celebrations
Although Munich hosts the original and possibly the biggest and best, Oktoberfest, its popularity has spawned a number of copycat beer festivals. These echoes of Munich’s celebration are held in locations throughout the rest of the world but mainly occur in Germany or in cities with a large population of inhabitants of German origin.
Beer festivals in Germany
Many towns and cities hold beer festivals in Germany; the best known besides Munich are probably Hannover and Stuttgart.
Beer festivals in North America
The largest beer festival in North America takes place at Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario, Canada around Canadian Thanksgiving in October. US cities that put on Oktoberfest beer festivals include Cincinnati, Ohio; Helen, Georgia; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Mount Angel, Oregon; Fredericksburg, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Panama City, Florida. Each of these places boasts inhabitants with strong German connections.
Beer festivals in Latin America
Several cities in Brazil hold Oktoberfest celebrations including the German-sounding Blumenau, Itapiranga, Rolândia, Santa Cruz do Sul, São José do Cedro, and Seara. Likewise, in Argentina, a large beer festival is held in Villa General Belgrano.
Beer festivals in Asia
Oktoberfest revelries in Asia tend to be on a smaller scale but notable beer festivals are held annually in Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.