ABC in KMC: OctoberFest

Photo by Bucchi Francesco/

When service members are notified of their selection for an overseas assignment, they may feel a sense of anticipation for various reasons, including the opportunity to travel and immerse themselves in a new culture.

This holds true for many service members in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, who may have missed the chance to experience an authentic Oktoberfest. This year marks the 188th celebration of Oktoberfest in Munich.

While the annual festival enjoys worldwide recognition, it is possible that many are unfamiliar with its history and how it has evolved into the celebrated event we know today.

Oktoberfest originates from Munich with the marriage of Ludwig I, the future king of Bavaria, and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, Oct. 12, 1810, where celebrations lasted five days. Citizens of Munich were invited to attend the royal wedding, participate in festivities, and watch horse races.

According to the city of Munich’s website the celebration was so popular it was brought back the following year and included an agriculture fair. Many new additions were made in following years including horse races and food and drink vendors. These vendors eventually moved to beer halls in the 20th century.

Today, Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the world pay homage to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The festival is traditionally a 17 to 18-day celebration, ending on the first Sunday in October. Since 1950, the mayor of Munich has kicked-off the festival by tapping a keg. What might be a surprising fact for visitors is that the large tents are completely newly constructed with fresh timber every year and building starts in July.

Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 16 to Oct. 3 this year. Members planning to attend Oktoberfest celebrations — locally or across the country — should ensure they have a plan for transportation if drinking alcohol. Members are encouraged to have a plan and use resources available like local cab companies, public transportation, a designated driver, and their immediate supervisor.

Armed Forces Against Drunk Driving is available Fridays and Saturdays between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Members should call AADD at 0152-5172-3356 if their original plan falls through.

Oktoberfest in recent years has yielded six million visitors, including Germans and other tourists, and roughly two million gallons of beer.

For more information about Oktoberfest, visit