A bit about Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is a German festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria. It has been labeled as the largest beer and traveling funfair festival in the world. Having been held since 1810, it is an integral part of Bavarian culture. The festival is replicated worldwide with an estimated five million people per year attending the celebration in Germany.
During the 16-18 day festival, it is reported that a staggering 7.7 million liters of beer is served. There are a range of attractions for visitors to enjoy such as side stalls, games and amusement rides. Traditional food is available for all to experience, including Schweinebraten (roast pork), Hendl (roast chicken), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Weißwurst (a white sausage), and Knödel (potato or bread dumplings).
One of the main attractions of the festival is that only traditional beer that conforms to Reinheitsgebot is sold. This provides visitors with an opportunity to experience a unique part of the German culture.
Beer barrel tapping
After the restaurateurs’ have paraded on carriages from downtown to the grounds of the festival, the first beer barrel opening takes place inside the Schottenhammel tent. The ceremony is led by the Lord Mayor who opens the barrel and makes an exclamation declaring “O’zapft!” Meaning, “It’s tapped!” It is at this point that the Oktoberfest is officially pronounced as open, and 12 gunshots are fired to commemorate the event. As tradition holds, the current Bavarian Minister-President is apportioned the first beer of the festival. The rest of the barrels in other tents are then tapped, and they begin to serve beer to the visitors.
Rifleman and Costume parade
A traditional costume parade has taken place since the inception of Oktoberfest in celebration of King Ludwig and Princess Therese of Bavaria’s silver wedding anniversary. The costume parade has become one of the high-points of the event, and one of the largest events in the world of its kind.
On the first Sunday of the festival, 8000 participants take part in the parade, marching in their momentous festival costumes. The march is typically led by the minister-president and his wife with music bands, flag wavers, and carriages with burnished horses and carts.
If you are a non-smoker you don’t have to worry about inhaling second-hand fumes. In 2008, a new Bavarian law prohibited smoking in all enclosed areas available to the public. Those who are caught smoking in the tent are barred from purchasing beer during the festival.
If you are planning on visiting Munich, be sure to align your trip with the Oktoberfest dates, and experience a magical display of German cultural tradition.