Of all the holidays and festivals, Oktoberfest in Germany must be the single most famous. Each year, Bavaria plays host to one of the most vibrant celebrations of life you can find anywhere. The stereotype of the typically stolid German is shattered amidst laughter, singing, dancing, and the clatter of those renowned giant beer steins against tables.
Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich
The history of Oktoberfest dates back to the early 19th century. Prince Ludwig I was to marry Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October, 1810. All the residents of Munich were invited to the fields outside of the city to celebrate the wedding. The celebration lasted five days and ended on the 17th with a horse race.
Oktoberfest was held again the following year, but this time they added an agricultural show in hopes of boosting Bavarian agriculture. In the beginning, there was little variety in the events held. In the early history of Oktoberfest, the horse races were by far the most popular, but unfortunately they are not still held today. However, the agriculture show persists, being hosted every three years during German Oktoberfest.
The first carousel in the history of Oktoberfest was erected in 1818 and small beer stands began to pop up over the years. The number of carousels increased significantly by the 1870s and the beer stands were replaced with beer tents and beer halls by 1896.
German Oktoberfest has evolved over the years into the largest festival in the world with over six million visitors visiting each year. People from all over the world come to partake in the celebration and while the primary events take place in Munich, celebrations can be found in other towns and cities.
It's a bit of a paradox, but German Oktoberfest isn't really held in October anymore. Instead, the festival begins in the middle of September and only slightly overlaps with October. The impetus behind this change was to ensure that the celebration takes place during the warmer days of Germany"s early fall.
Those looking to attend Octoberfest in Germany would
be well-advised to book seats with the individual tents
as most of them will fill up very quickly each day. If
you arrive without a reservation by the middle of the
afternoon then you probably won"t have a problem, but
show up at night and it might be hard to get a spot. Those
traveling by cars should not drive to Oktoberfest in Germany.
Parking is extremely difficult and it could take a very
long time of searching before you find a place. If you're
staying in Munich, you'd be better off using public transportation.
While these might be crowded, you'll be sure to get there,
and if you get lost just look for a mob of people--chances
are they're going to the exact same place you are.
Top image: Dave_B_ (flickr)