Oktoberfest has been around for almost two centuries now and it has become the largest beer festival in the world. It takes place from the second last week of September to the first week of October, lasting 16 to 18 days. But this event has more history behind it than what most people realize. Let us explore what that history is, how this celebration started and what it is all about.
How it all began?
The roots of Oktoberfest can be tracked to 12th October, 1810 when the wedding of King Ludwig I with Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen took place. The local Bavarians were invited to the wedding, to which they turned up in quite a festive mood wearing their Lederhosen and dirndl dress. Small beer stands were set up to provide beer to the people and add to the festive environment.
The Bavarians drank, danced and celebrated the wedding in the fields in front of the main city gates, which is why the fields are named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honor of the Crown Princess. The locals, however, have abbreviated it since then, calling it just “Wies’n”.
Yet, the Oktoberfest we know now did not begin to take shape till 1896, when the first beer tent appeared, replacing the beer stands. These beer tents were set up by enterprising landlords and royals to expand the celebrations and attract more visitors.
Before the beer tents, there were horse races and Agricultural shows to add attraction to the festival and also to boost the Bavarian agriculture. However, these have long since been replaced and now the main attractions are the big and small beer tents that display different festive environments for everyone.
What it’s all about?
With so much history behind Oktoberfest, it’s become an international event. People from all over the world travel to Munich every year to attend Oktoberfest, particularly from Australia, Austria, USA, UK and the rest of Europe. Oktoberfest itself takes place in different cities all over the world, from Brazil and the US to India and China.
Oktoberfest today is all about the celebration of Bavarian culture and coming together to drink beer. People dress up in Lederhosen just like the Old Bavarians did at the wedding of King Ludwig and Princess Therese to drink and sing all the livelong day. These traditional Bavarian clothing options are important in experiencing the true spirit of Oktoberfest and here’s everything you need to know about Lederhosen.
The main Oktoberfest celebration still takes place in Munich, Germany despite cities like Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada and Cincinnati in USA holding their own Oktoberfest. Be sure to visit other landmarks in Munich when you are there for Oktoberfest to get a better understanding of the country.