Oktoberfest is is the world’s largest Volksfest, a beer festival and travelling funfair. Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year.
Find out more facts about this glorious event, here!
1.The first Oktoberfest was held to honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in 1810.
2.The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the royal wedding. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honour of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wiesn”.
3.It is widely understood that Andreas Michael Dall’Armi, a Major in the National Guard, proposed the idea. However, the origins of the horse races, and Oktoberfest itself, may have stemmed from proposals offered by Franz Baumgartner, a coachman and Sergeant in the National Guard.
4.The precise origins of the festival and horse races remain a matter of controversy, however, the decision to repeat the horse races, spectacle, and celebrations in 1811 launched what is now the annual Oktoberfest tradition.
5.It wasn’t until 1819 that the horse races were replaced by beer vendors.
6.Despite their initial prudence, you’ll still find doting monarchists today raising a stein (“krug” in German) in honor of the old lord and lady who made it all possible.
7.The festival doesn’t serve ‘beer’, per se, but the appropriately named Oktoberfestbier.
8.Served in 13 huge drinking tents, and made by just six Munich-based breweries, these special tipples are unique to the event, and calling them anything less than their given namesake could see you in trouble with the devoted local patrons.
9.Nobody raises their mug until the Mayor says so. Since 1950, the festival has only started after the official gun salute and the mayor shouting O’ zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”) and offering the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. Only after that, can the festival start.
10.Every year, festival-goers and patrons itching for free memorabilia attempt to make off with official Oktoberfest beer mugs. The one-litre glasses, or Masskrugs, while fantastic souvenirs, are actually the property of the beerhall or tent landlords.
11.Security guards are specially positioned near marquee entrances, and told to look out for mugs leaving the tents.
12.Last year, 226,000 glasses were recovered by security staff before patrons could sneak off with them.
13.The hairier the hat, the wealthier the wearer. During Oktoberfest, traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte). The more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you are considered to be. (Except nowadays the tufts are synthetic and everybody can look as wealthy or as poor as they like.)
14.While the festival rings in the beginning of October, the beer was traditionally brewed all the way back in March, when the summer’s heat and rampant bacteria wouldn’t interfere with the brewing process.
15.This beer, called Märzenbier, was typically higher in alcohol so it could last all summer.
16.During October, the rest of the year’s beer was consumed to make room for a new year’s worth of beer. Today, the beer is still brewed under the same style, but it’s now brewed right before the fall.
17.Oktoberfest beer is typically around 6% ABV, far stronger and sweeter than typical German lager. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a warm early fall afternoon, and many people pass out from exhaustion.
18.These people are called Bierleichen (German for “Beer Corpses.”)
19.With many of the brews boasting from 7.5 to 8 per cent alcohol, and the price of a bottle of water coming in around $9, it’s hard not to get carried away.
20.The reason why Oktoberfest has become such an important and popular Munich landmark is not out of mere hedonism, but necessity. Southern Bavaria was once notorious for its awful fresh water supply, so to avoid cholera, the plague and other such nasty ailments, locals would wet their whistles with the safer, arguably tastier alternative of beer.
21.Water purification has come on leaps and bounds since the 19th century, but that’s not to say that some traditions are worth keeping nonetheless. So, drink to your good health, or ‘zum Wohl!’ as the locals shout.
22.Paris Hilton is permanently banned from Oktoberfest. While drinkers as young as 14 can join the party if accompanied by an adult, the security are known for their no-nonsense approach to safeguarding the celebration. A selection of handsy over-drinkers are banned each year, but top of the notoriety list is the hotel heiress.
23.Dressed in her skimpiest Bavarian ‘dirndl’ (the traditional Oktoberfest dress), the American socialite showed up to the 2006 to promote a brand of canned wine, without any sort of prior arrangement with the Oktoberfest organizers. After some sizeable and intoxicated public outrage, Paris was banished from ever returning to the party.
24.Over recent years, organizers for the festival have tried to steer away from the image of the world’s most popular watering hole to a more family friendly extravaganza.
25.Beer prices start at £7 / $11. Not for those looking for a low budget festival.
26.It could be dangerous for some. Around 600-800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning ever year.
27.In 2013, at least 7,551 people needed medical attention and police were called 2,031 times.
28.Oktoberfest Lost and Found turns up some pretty memorable forgotten items—roughly 4,000 of them per year.
29.In years past, lost items included 350 cell phones, 520 un-reclaimed wallets, over 1,000 passports, 370 pairs of glasses, 425 sets of keys, 1300 items of clothing, and at least one set of dentures. Even 48 children were lost, then found.
30.There’s a wine tent. Most people in it are above 40.
31.And food is everywhere. There are around 140 restaurants and food stands.
32.It closes between 11:30pm and midnight. Most locals head to after-parties.
33.It’s always packed and it helps the economy. More than 6 million attend Oktoberfest annually and it employs around 12,000 people.
34.Albert Einstein, once worked as an electrician and helped to set up one of the beer tents in 1896.
35.Oktoberfest has its very own, pop-up post office. They send around 130,000 postcards and gifts every year.
36.Whoever wants to open a food stall or tent has to wait up to 20 years.
37.In fact, the fest has been officially canceled 24 times due to disease and war.In 1854 and 1873, cholera epidemics forced postponement of the fest. It was also canceled during the years of the Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII.