A wedding between the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen inspired the first Octoberfest. The reception began on October 12, 1810, and ended on October 17. Munich citizens attended the five-day party that included music, parades, food, and drinks; and ended with a horse race.
Munich’s Octoberfest Today
Octoberfest previously took place in October, but today the festival starts in September and lasts 16 to 18 days. September is the chosen month because the days are longer and warmer. The festival ends on the first Sunday of October unless it falls on the first or second of the month. Then it ends on the third.
The first Octoberfest was held in a field that today is named the Theresienwiese in tribute to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
Men and women dress in the traditional garb; men wear lederhosen, leather shorts with suspenders and plaid shirts; and women wear dirndls, wide skirts bowed at the waist, and they often braid their hair.
Octoberfest covers about 102 acres and attracts over six-million people worldwide. The carnival includes rides for children and family and thrill rides for that heart-dropping experience. Also, prize-winning carnival games abound like popping balloons with darts and air gun shooting.
If that’s not enough, merrymakers can watch parades, participate in contests, or go to the Schichtl Theatre and get executed by fake decapitation.
Octoberfest Beer Tents
Beer tents are the preferred venue, and it’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance. Each tent features its own beer. We recognized our tent, Winzerer Fahndl, by the big beer mug perched on top. Tents offer indoor and outdoor seating, and large tents hold thousands, while small tents accommodate hundreds. Our tent held 8,450 people inside and 2,450 outside.
About ten people sit at each picnic table, and if you don’t have ten in your party they combine groups. Benches butt up against each other, so there is little room to maneuver. Our tent had clean bathrooms and the wait in the ladies’ restroom line was about seven minutes, and there was no wait in the men’s room.
When we entered, I smelled grilled chicken and watched waiters carry large platters of food through throngs of people. We found our table and opened the menu that included traditional food like roast ox meat, pork sausages with sauerkraut, roasted leg of veal, grilled duck, potato dumplings, the featured beer Paulaner, and other drinks. We started with the beer that tasted malty and medium bodied. We loved it. However, the next day we had sore arm muscles from holding the heavy mugs.
The band played songs geared toward an older crowd on a stage in the center of our tent. Many lined up and danced, or swayed to the beat in unison and sang along.
Theft at Octoberfest
With thousands of people attending, I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I saw. I entered the ladies room where an attendant had a basket of tips on the table by the door. When I was leaving, I saw the flash of a brown-haired-young man dressed in lederhosen charge in the ladies room, grab the attendant’s tips and dash. I heard someone curse in English, and I suspected that theft wasn’t a first.
Why you should attend Octoberfest
There is something for everyone at Octoberfest whether its thrill rides, shows, parades, or enjoying Bavarian food and drink. Attending one of the biggest parties in the world is a great way to soak up the culture and meet people. Though the festival ended yesterday, there’s always next year.