1. Where it all began
The original Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in honor of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The inhabitants of Munich were invited to drink, eat and celebrate for five full days. They all had such a good time that it was decided to make it a tradition and repeat it every year. With the time it grew in size and nowadays it’s the biggest Volksfest worldwide, attracting up to 7 million visitors every year.
2. Locals call it “Wiesn”
Once arrived in Munich you won’t really hear the word “Oktoberfest” a lot; Locals call it “Wiesn”, which is simply a colloquial way of saying Theresienwiese (the name of the festival grounds).
3. The Wiesn beer
Does the beer at Oktoberfest really taste differently… or is it all just an illusion? It’s not! The beer for the festival is brewed with a higher original extract which results in a higher alcohol strength. Originally the so called “Märzbier” was brewed out of practical reasons: because of it’s higher alcohol content, it didn’t get sour as fast as normal one does. The guests loved it; so since then the breweries present the freshly brewed Märzbier on every Oktoberfest.
4. No need to buy tickets
There is a lot of common misconceptions about the Oktoberfest and one of them is that you need a ticket to get in. There is no such thing as a ticket, but there are still a few things you should know about entering the festival. You can make a reservation for tables which does cost money, but assures you a place in the tent. Otherwise it is highly recommended to come early (especially on weekends), because the tents fill up really fast.
5. Oktoberfest in September
Many people wonder why most of the Oktoberfest actually takes place in the month of September. There is a simple reason for that: It is the so called “Altweibersommer”. This is how Germans call the period after summer, which is characterized by its constant, usually warm weather. Since this mostly happens in September, the Oktoberfest was extended to take advantage of these warm days.
6. “O’zapft is”
A very important sentence (maybe the most important) during Oktoberfest: “O´zapft is”. It’s a bavarian expression meaning ‘it’s tapped’. At noon on the first day of Oktoberfest, the Mayor of Munich traditionally taps the first keg of beer, exclaiming the above phrase, which marks the official opening of the festival.
7. The “Haferlschuh”
The Haferlschuh is the “must-have” for male Wiesn visitors. It completes the whole outfit and can not be missing at Oktoberfest! Originally it is a work shoe, but in Bavaria, even today, it is still worn in different situations as a everyday shoe.
8. More than just beer tents
Besides the beer tents, there are all sorts of food stalls, entertainment rides, fair games and more. This is the concept of a German “Volksfest”: a big event that combines some kind of beer/wine festival with funfair activities. The Boat swing and chain carousel are the oldest rides at the Oktoberfest. Since 1919, the Kalb family, arrived at the third generation, operates their “Kettenflieger” (chain flier).
9. The costume and sharpshooter parades
The so called “Trachten and Schützenzug” traditionally takes place on the first weekend of the festival. In honor of the silver wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1835 the parade took place for the first time. Today, about 9.000 members of various rifle clubs take part and present their splendidly decorated cars.
10. Essential Words
Prost: German for “cheers”.
Maß: A Maßkrug is a beer jug, either made out of glass or stoneware, which contains exactly 1 litre of beer. All you have to do is order a Maß.
Bretzel: German for pretzel. In Bavaria also called Brezn.
Hendl: Bavarian for (roast) chicken.
Dirndl: A traditional dress for women, the dirndl is worn especially in Bavaria and very popular among female Oktoberfest visitors.
Lederhose: Leather trousers, particularly popular in Bavaria.
Schweinshaxe: Pork knuckle.