Travel Germany: Oktoberfest
By: Jean Sutherland
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Travelers to Germany during late September and early October are in for an Oktoberfest treat: two solid weeks of beer drinking, revelry and entertainment. For a glimpse into the festivities, as well as some of the history surrounding the event, read on.
Travel Germany: History of Oktoberfest
Even though the event is named for the month afterwards, travelers to Germany’s will notice that Oktoberfest actually starts in September. Originally, the party began on the 12th of October, 1810, with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I of Bavaria) to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The event caused such a stir that it just had to happen again the following year! This started the German tradition that travelers from around the world flock to see every year.
In 1818, the celebration was comprised of one carousel and a couple of rides (appropriate for the times). The beer tents didn’t start popping up until 1896, and because Munich was quite a bit smaller than it is today, visitors to the German Oktoberfest had to travel to a large, 31 hectare field known as die Theresienwiese, which was named after the Princess. Locals, however, know the area just as die Wiesn.
Travel Germany: Oktoberfest Today
Oktoberfest in Germany to travelers is a lot like the agricultural fairs elsewhere, complete with rides, merry-go-rounds, a carnival-like atmosphere, food, and, of course, the overflowing amounts of beer available at the 14 Bavarian beer tents. However, German travelers should be aware that the full meal deal agricultural fair, called Zentrallandwirtschaftsfest, is only held every three years. Also, die Theresienwiese now lies within the city limits, so visitors to Germany’s Oktoberfest don’t have to travel so far.
Officially, Oktoberfest starts when Munich’s mayor, known in German as the Oberbürgermeister, taps the first beer keg and yells O'zapft is! (meaning, literally, “it’s tapped!”) at noon on the first Saturday of the event; travelers from around the world come just to see this! And as always in German culture, everything has a name, and this date is no exception; travelers will hear the first day of Oktoberfest called Wiesn-Samstag. Nowadays, the festivities start on a Saturday in September, and end on the first Sunday in October.
Families aren’t left out of the loop either at the festivities; travelers to the German Oktoberfest can attend the two Tuesday afternoon events designated just for families, called Familiennachmittagen. From 12:00 to 6:00 on these days, German travelers can take advantage of special prices for public transportation and entry rates as well.
Since Oktoberfest is held in Munich, the language primarily used is Barisich. Because this Bavarian dialect is a bit strange, travelers to Germany and Germans alike sometimes have a hard time understanding the die bairische Sprache (Bavarian dialect), so it’s a great idea to brush up a bit on your terms before heading to the event. This link will help you learn some of the more familiar words you’ll encounter on your travels to Gemany’s Oktoberfest, as well as Bavarian words used on the streets to help you navigate your journey. http://oktoberfest.sat1.de/en/.
About the Author
Jean Sutherland is the owner of the informative website http://www.spasoftheworld.com/europe/germany.htm & http://www.spasoftheworld.com/spas/index.html She has worked in the travel industry for over 10 years and lived in Mexico for 3 years. Please also look at the Mexican Animal Shelter site she supports. http://www.anitasanimals.com