Oktoberfest lures visitors to Munich

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***One of Germany’s most famous fests, the Oktoberfest in Munich, starts Saturday.

Each year, about six million visitors from all over the world come to
the Oktoberfest, which is the world’s biggest fest of its kind. It
continues through Oct. 3.

Oktoberfest starts with a parade of the fest’s hosts and the breweries
at 10 a.m. Saturday. About 1,000 people including city officials, the
hosts and their families, waitresses and music bands will proceed from
Sonnenstrasse to
Theresienwiese in horse-drawn carriages decorated with flowers.

The second parade, the costume and marksmen’s parade, begins at 10 a.m.
Sunday. Almost 8,000 participants dressed in traditional costumes will
proceed in a 2.5 hour-long pageant on seven kilometers from
Maximilianstrasse through the center of Munich to the festgrounds.

Oktoberfest has its origin in the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later
crowned King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen
Oct. 12, 1810. Munich’s citizens were invited to the celebration
outside of town on a meadow, which later was named “Theresienwiese”
(Therese’s meadow) to honor the bride. At the end of celebrations there
was a horse race, which in the presence of the whole Royal family was
considered as a fest for all Bavarians.

The people decided to repeat the race in the following year, and thus the tradition of the annual Oktoberfest started.

In 1835, the 25th anniversary of Ludwig and Therese was celebrated with
a big pageant. It’s the origin of today’s costume and marksmen’s parade.

In 1818, the Oktoberfest had the first carousel and two swings as well
as little booths selling beer. In cooperation with the breweries, keen
pub owners set up “beer castles” in 1896. Rides and showmen covered the
other part of the festival grounds.

Today, the fest includes a big amusement park with more than 80 rides
and games and 14 beer tents with more than 100,000 seats set up by six
regional breweries and 16 smaller tents with 100 to 500 seats.

Fest hours are 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays, Sundays and Oct. 3, and
9 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Family days with reduced
prices are from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Sept. 27.

The German railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, offers a party train with
musical entertainment going from Kaiserslautern to Munich Sept. 25. It
will return to Kaiserslautern at midnight Sept. 26.

Train tickets cost €58 and are available at United Service
Organizations offices or at the Kaiserslautern main train station. For
details, call the train travel
center at 0631-323233 or e-mail filiale-kl@bahn-saarbruecken.de.