10 THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT OKTOBERFEST
Contributed by Amanda Marsteller
Posted on Sep 18, 2015
September 19th marked the opening day of the world’s biggest beer festival, also known as a brew lover’s nirvana.
Hoping to make the journey to Munich for next year’s Oktoberfest? There are some things you should know.
Fortunately, Oktoberfest’s teeming crowd of millions is tempered with an equal amount of beer. But there’s actually more to the 16-day celebration than standout suds. The historic German festival is an unforgettable blend of tradition and good-natured revelry—washed down with a hearty chug.
1. OKTOBERFEST HAS BEEN RAGING FOR OVER 200 YEARS.
Munich’s first Oktoberfest took place back in 1810 in honor of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s wedding to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The royal celebration included a public feast and horse races as entertainment, but the suds didn’t start flowing until 1819 when the annual races were replaced with beer vendors. The meadow where Oktoberfest happens was named Theresienwiese after the princess, and today locals refer to the event simply as Wiesn.
2. IT SHOULD REALLY BE CALLED SEPTEMBERFEST.
Why is it called Oktoberfest when it starts in September? Fair question. While the very first celebration lasted only a week, it wasn’t long before the joy-inducing Oktoberfest stretched into a 16-day affair. Germans party hard: Who can blame them? Festival officials chose to move the start date up to take advantage of September’s warmer weather, a decision that has encouraged far greater attendance. We’re talking 6.4 million visitors each year.
3. THE PARTY DOESN’T START UNTIL THE MAYOR TAPS IN.
The fairgrounds may open at 9 a.m., but you’ll have to wait until the official tapping before curling your hands around a signature stein. That process begins at 11 a.m. with the procession of breweries, brass bands and the mayor to the Schottenhamel, the festival’s oldest beer tent.
At noon, to the tune of a 12-gun salute, the mayor taps the first beer barrel and shouts “O’ zapft is!” Once the first beer is handed to Bavaria’s minister-president, the festival is open for business.