Oktoberfest began as the marriage ceremony between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. All of the townspeople were invited to attend the festival, which took place in the fields outside of the city gates. Following the wedding the fields were named Theresienwiese after the Princess, and the party was such a hit that the townspeople asked King Ludwig to continue the celebration the following year. Oktoberfest in 2015 will mark the 208th anniversary of the festivities.
Why stop a good thing!?
Today the remnants of the gates still stand and the fields, known by locals as the Wies’n, now host the largest beer festival in the world: Oktoberfest! What was a simple wedding celebration has transformed into a 17 or 18-day festival in which 7 million people from around the world participate in, consuming more than 6 million liters of Bavarian beer. That’s 1 million gallons of beer! Oktoberfest officially begins on the second to last Saturday in September at noon when the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel at the Schottenhamel Tent, crying “O’zapft is” (It’s open). The festival concludes the first Sunday of October following German reunification day on October 5.
There are 14 main beer tents at the Theresienwiese grounds serving brews by the Maß (1-liter stein). Of the 14 tents there are 6 large tents, which rotate up to 12, 000 people per day! That is a whole lot of beer! Only six breweries are represented at the Oktoberfest grounds - Späten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Poschorr, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu. Everyone has their preferred brew by the end, which one will be yours?
Also, for those of you who fancy a break from the frothy brews there is a special wine tent called Weinzelt.
♦ Where does the Oktoberfest happen?
The Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany, on the ground known as “Theresienwiese”, which is also called “Festwiese” by the locals.
Half of the year, the grounds are simply a public park. Around June, the tents and fun fair foundations begin their staggered process of construction with a completion date of late September, just in time for the beginning of the festival. This area hosts a space of 420, 000 sq ft and is easy to get to from central Munich.
♦ When does the Oktoberfest happen?
The Oktoberfest begins in September and ends in October on the first Sunday in October, or on October 3, whatever is later. It lasts for at least 16 days.
The next dates are:
• 2015: September 19 - October 4
• 2016: September 17 - October 3
♦ Oktoberfest starts in September…why is it called Oktoberfest?
The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in Munich in 1810 in honor of Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities began October 12, 1810, and lasted for almost a week, until October 17. The public celebrations ended with an exciting horse race. After such a spectacular party, the happy couple decided that the same type of festival should be continued annually. In the following years, the galas were repeated every October, prolonged and, eventually moved forward into September primarily because of the weather.
♦ What’s the deal with Beer Tent Reservations?
Every year, it’s a long process for us to book beer tent reservations, and you don’t always get exactly what you want. Every tent has its own system for booking reservations, not to mention they each start the process at different times of the year. You always have to make reservations in groups of 8-10 people, and most of the reservations go to locals who have held tables at the Wies’n for several generations.
The big tents (holding 7, 000-10, 000 people at a time) are the most difficult to get into and often close their doors by noon on Saturdays simply because they’re already full. It’s nearly impossible to get into a big tent without a reservation on a busy day; however, you can sometimes squeeze in with someone at a table outside and order a beer to establish your spot. If you’re already in a tent when the reservation time has expired, you can stay in that tent - you just have to find an opening at a table in a non-reserved section. Weekdays are much less crowded compared to Saturdays and weekend nights. Two people can usually find their way into a tent and find a seat to get a beer. At night it’s often too crowded to order food (unless you have vouchers with your reservation) but don’t worry; there are plenty of vendors serving hearty Bavarian food on the Oktoberfest Fair Grounds.
The Bucket List Events package includes at least 1 beer tent reservation per person. Depending on which weekend you’re in Munich, you may end up at a big tent (5, 000+ capacity) or a medium tent (under 1, 000-5, 000 capacity). Most reservations include 2 beers (1 liter each) and 1 food voucher (usually a chicken plate). 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