History of the Oktoberfest – The origins 1810
Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married the Princess Teresa of Sassonia-Hildburghausen . All the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the celebration held in the fields in front of the city gate to celebrate the happy royal event. Since then, the fields have been called “Theresienwiese” ( “Teresa’s meadow” ) in honour of the princess, shortened to “Wies’n”. The closing ceremony at the Theresienwiese included a horse race, a veritable feast for the whole of Bavaria, the following year the decision to repeat the horse races gave rise to the origin of the Oktoberfest tradition.
It is here that the history of the Oktoberfest begins, the annual celebration that since then, punctuates the life of Munich and Germany, as a permanent and punctual fixture, except on 24 occasions when it was cancelled due to wars or epidemics.
History of Oktoberfest – from 1811 to 1900
In 1811, in order to promote agriculture and the Bavarian economy, an agricultural fair was also organised. The horse race from which everything takes its origin no longer takes place today, in fact the last occasion was in 1960, while the agricultural fair is held once every four years, at the southern end of the Wiesn. In 1813, the celebration was cancelled due to the war against Napoleon. In 1818 the first ride and two swings made their appearance.
From 1819 onwards the citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for the organisation of the festival, making it an annual event. Thereafter, the duration of the Oktoberfest was lengthened and the start date brought forward, to take advantage of the longer and warmer days of September.
Since 1850 the statue of Bavaria built by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller on a design by Leo von Klenze and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler, has “watched over” the Oktoberfest. In 1854 the Oktoberfest was cancelled due to a cholera epidemic. Also in 1866 festivities are suspended as Bavaria was fighting side by side with Austria in the war against Prussia. In 1873 cholera struck again, another year cancelled. In 1885, electric lighting lit up the Oktoberfest tents for the first time.
From 1887 onwards the tradition of the opening parade was resumed, as in the first edition in 1810. From then on in fact, the “Einzug der Festwirte und Brauereien“, led by the Münchner Kindl, has been the official opening ceremony. Since 1892 beer has been served in glass jugs (Maß). Since 1896, due to an initiative by the hosts in collaboration with the brewers, the first large halls were built to replace the old sheds.