What’s better than a festival dedicated to beer? As far as cultural festivals go, Oktoberfest is a beer vacation that runs for 16 consecutive days, starting from late September till early October. This year will be Munich’s 182nd Oktoberfest, where millions of people will gather to drink (heavily) and be merry!
Here are a few lesser-known facts about the festival, you should know!
1. A grand wedding party
The world’s biggest funfair stemmed from a grand town wedding, back in 1810. The first- ever fest was held to celebrate the 12th wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon princess – Hildburghausen Therese. Every single citizen in Munich was invited to the party, which was held over five whole days. Quite a celebration, huh?
2. A congregation of millions!
What started off as a 4000 people wedding celebration in the 1800s, has turned into one of the biggest celebrations in Europe. Currently, an average of six million from all around the world flock to Munich to attend this festival with around seven million litres of Oktoberfest beer consumed.
3. Oktoberfest is a celebration of Bavarian culture, not German
A common misconception about Oktoberfest is that it is a German thing. Of course, Munich is the centre of all Oktoberfest activity, but it is actually reflective of Bavarian food, clothes and drink.
4. All the beer at Oktoberfest, is brewed in Munich only
A hard-and-fast rule which is followed by breweries allowed to participate. All in all there are six breweries who have been given rights to serve beer at the festival, each of which have their own tent where only their beer is served.
5. The fest has been cancelled a total of 24 times, owing to war and epidemics
As one of the longest-standing cultural festivals, Oktoberfest has been forced to take more than a few pit stops over the years. Two cholera epidemics in the 1800s, the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), and all the years during and after the two World Wars sums up why the festival had to take breaks.
6. The food served compliments the beer perfectly
While the main attraction is the beer, the food available is as traditional and culturally integral to festival. From traditional Roast chicken (Hendl), Grilled ham hock (Schweinshaxe) to Sausages (Bratwürst) along with Brezen (Pretzel), there is an large variety of fried and sinful food to pick and choose from.
7. The activities are as crazy as it gets
Many tents host many activities such as — crossbow competitions, beer contests, blind beer contests, sausage carving contests, beer stein and barrel races, chicken dances, costumes parades and so much more!
(Image Courtesy : Johannes Simon / Getty Images)
8. Losing your kids at the festival… is no big deal
Over the years, tons of families have lost (temporairily, of course) their kids at the festival. In fact, this happens so often that the festival has organised a lost and found children office on the festival site. *cue laughter*
9. Beware of becoming a beer corpse
If you’re heading down to Oktoberfest this year, you might want to take it slow when it comes to drinking. Another common sight at the festival are ‘beer corpses’ or ‘Bierleichen’ – a name given to people who’ve had a bit too much to drink and have passed out (all around the venue) from the exhaustion.
(Image courtesy : Miguel Villagran/Getty)
10. You’d be surprised, Oktoberfest was once a non-alcoholic festival
In the early days, Oktoberfest was more about the cultural events it featured – like horse racing, agricultural shows and other fun activities and all the beer drank and sold was done outside the venue. However, a few years down the line, people started to realise how integral the beer drinking was to the festivities, which is when selling and brewing of beer became a part of the festival.