***image4***For the 175th time, one of Germany’s most famous fests – the Oktoberfest in Munich – takes place Saturday through Oct. 5. Each year, the world’s biggest folksfest lures millions of visitors from all over the world. Last year, 6.2 millions of visitors came to Oktoberfest, drank 6.9 million liters of beer and ate more than 520,000 chickens and 142,000 bratwurst.
Beer tent hosts and breweries will 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 my music bands who will perform in the tents. At noon, the lord mayor will tap the first keg of beer in the Schottenhamel tent. Before then, beer will not be available.
***image1***The second parade, the costume and marksmen’s parade, will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday on Maximilianstrasse. About 8,000 participants from Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Poland and Switzerland dressed in traditional costumes will walk in the two-hour long pageant for seven kilometers 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 celebrations outside the gate of town at a meadow. To honor the bride, the meadow later was named “Theresienwiese” (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.
***image2***In 1811, people also celebrated an agricultural fest which included an exhibition of Bavarian agriculture. Today there are no more horse races, but the agricultural fest takes place every four years.
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 festgrounds. Today, the fest has a big 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.
***image3***A “Mass Bier,” which is a liter of beer, ranges from €8 to €8.30 this year.
Fest 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 Kaiserslautern to Munich at 7 a.m. Oct. 4. It departs Munich to return to Kaiserslautern at 11:30 p.m. Tickets are available at United Service Organizations offices for $114, or at the Kaiserslautern main train station for €71. For details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.