Oktoberfest! It is the largest fair in the world, a 16-day celebration focused on Germany’s golden brew, its liquid gold – beer. This year, Oktoberfest or Wies’n as it’s locally called, kicks off in Munich on September 21 and will end on October 6.
As usual, there will be food and drinks during one of Germany’s most famous events, which normally attracts over 7 millions guests each year. There could be as much as 7 million litres of beer served during the 16 days of celebration, which ends on German Unity Day. Theresienwiese will again be very crowded. Expect to sample traditional German food like white sausage (Weisswurst), Sauerkraut/Blaukraut, potato pancakes (Reiberdatschi), cheese noodles (Käsespätzle), Knödel, Brezeln, Würstl, grilled ham hock (Schweinshaxe), roast pork (Schweinebraten) and chicken (Hendl).
Would you believe that an event that started out as a wedding reception during the marriage on October 17, 1810 of Crown Prince Ludwig (King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen at Theresienwiese could turn into a huge worldwide event?
But if you’re wondering why the cumulative years of celebration and the start of the first Oktoberfest do not match, blame it on the numerous epidemics and the wars in the past that led to its cancellation. Otherwise, Oktoberfest would have been celebrated for 203 years this year, 2013.
Let the beer flow
Oktoberfest officially begins when the parade through Munich and the tent patrons arrive on Saturday, September 21 at 11 in the morning. At 12 noon, the Mayor of Munich taps the first beer barrel at the tent of Schottenhamel. At 10 in the morning on Sunday, a traditional costume parade through the city is scheduled. There will be events during the rest of the days, culminating in the traditional gun salute on October 16 at 12 noon on the steps of the monument in Bavaria.
Some handy tips
Here are some tips to help you have a grand time in Munich:
- If you are flying into Munich, you should land at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport. From the airport to Munich, take the train and get off at Hackerbrücke station. Do not attempt to go to Munich during Oktoberfest by car as there simply are no parking spaces available near the site.
- It is expected that accommodation will be sparse because most of the rooms have been booked in advance. However you should also try checking out those homeowners that now rent out their spare rooms. You should be at the beer tents by eight in the morning to get a table.
- Prices of one litre glass of beer have risen this year. At the beer tents of Löwenbrau, Schottenhammel and Armbrustschützen, it will be € 9.85. Cheaper beer at €9.40 a litre will be at Museumszelt, Vinzenz Murr Metzgerstubn and Ammer tents.
- The smallest beer tent is Glöckle Wirt, which is good for 98 people while the biggest one is the Augustiner-Festhalle, which can accommodate 2,500 people outside and 6,000 inside. With the cosy atmosphere at the Glöckle Wirt, it attracts a celebrity or two.
- Tuesdays during the Oktoberfest are family days and there are several activities geared towards children too young to drink beer. If you are traveling with family, best time to go on a Tuesday is before five in the afternoon.
- You will find the best examples of Bavarian cuisine at the Schützen-Festzelt tent. Tender suckling pig with malt beer sauce, anyone?
- Steins should remain in the tents as you can be accused of theft if you take your stein out. There are shops for souvenir items if you want to bring some home or buy them cheaper at the mall.
Attending the Oktoberfest in Munich is a very wonderful and memorable experience that every traveller should experience at least once. If you are there, hope that you will have great fun drinking all the beer you can and sampling some of the best dishes around.
Here’s to hoping that you are not too sloshed to hold your stein and offer each one a clearly-mouthed Prost!