One of Germany’s most famous festivals, the Oktoberfest in Munich, takes place Saturday through Oct. 4.
For the 176th time, visitors from all over the world will come to celebrate the world’s biggest folks fest in the mecca for beer lovers.
Last year, around 6 million visitors came to Oktoberfest, drank 6.6 million liters of beer and ate more than 460,000 chickens, 53,500 ham hocks and 104 oxen. And due to the bad weather, more than 2,000 liters of glühwein was also served.
Beer tent hosts and breweries officially start the event with a parade leading from Sonnenstrasse to Theresienwiese at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. The lord mayor of Munich, beer tent hosts, their families, waiters, waitresses and showmen will ride in decorated horse-drawn wagons, accompanied by bands who will then perform in the tents.
At noon, the lord mayor will tap the first keg of beer in one of the tents. The tents will be open before then, but beer will not be served until noon. The second parade, the costume and marksmen’s parade, will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday on Maximilianstrasse. About 9,500 participants from Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Poland and Switzerland dressed in traditional costumes will walk in the two-hour long pageant that covers 7 kilometers to the fest grounds. Besides the breweries’ wagons drawn by horses, more than 40 decorated floats and wagons will participate.
Oktoberfest has its origin in the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later crowned King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810.
Munich’s citizens were invited to the celebrations at a meadow outside the town’s gate. To honor the bride, the meadow was later named “Theresienwiese,” or Therese’s meadow. A horse race, observed by the whole royal family, closed out the wedding festivities. With the decision to repeat the race in the following year, the tradition of Oktoberfest began.
In 1818, the first carousel and two swings were set up. Beer was sold in little booths until 1896, when keen pub owners, in cooperation with the breweries, installed the first “beer castles.”
Rides and shows covered the other part of the festival grounds.
Today, the festival has a large amusement park with more than 80 rides and games, 14 beer tents with more than 100,000 seats set up by six regional breweries and 16 smaller tents with 100 to 500 seats each.
A “Mass Bier,” or a liter of beer, ranges from €8.30 to to €8.60.
Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Family days with reduced prices are from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
The German railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, offers a party train with musical entertainment going from Landstuhl and Kaiserslautern to Munich at around 7 a.m. Oct. 3.
Tickets are available at United Service Organizations offices or at the Kaiserslautern main train station. For details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.