History of Munich's Oktoberfest

The Wiesn - from a wedding to the largest public festival in the world!

It all began with the wedding of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig I) to princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese or Therese's green) on October 12, 1810. Five days later, the National Guard organized a large public horse race to ensure that the Bavarian folk could also partake in the wedding celebration. It was decided that the festival should be repeated at the same time the following year, which marked the birth of the "October-Festivals".

In 1811, the Bavarians additionally celebrated an agricultural festival. In contrast to the horse race, this festival has held to this day. Every three years this "central agricultural festival" takes place on the southern part of the Theresienwiese.

The enormous entertainment spectrum today didn't exist in the past. A couple of carousels and several beer stands were all at that time with those first beer tents appearing in 1896.

As Munich was considerably smaller in the past, the proprietors and event organizers went out to the Wiesn for the starting ceremonies. This tradition is still reflected today with the entry of the tent proprietors on Saturday morning in the parade.

The mayor Thomas Wimmer first started the well-known tradition of tapping the beer keg in the 1950s. The mayor taps the first keg on the first Wiesn Saturday at exactly 12:00pm and calls out "O'zapft is!" (which means the keg has been tapped). Since then, the mayor has always tapped the first keg.

But the Wiesn also has its dark side. Thirteen visitors were killed in a bomb attack at the main entrance in 1980 and over 200 were seriously injured. The Wiesn has been cancelled a total of 24 times in its history for reasons of war, cholera and inflation.



How to Enjoy Munich Oktoberfest ... without Beer
There is a fairly general misconception that Oktoberfest can be pretty lame or fairly boring if you are a non-drinker or don't actually like beer, but seriously, nothing could be further from the truth. Oktoberfest is the world's largest Volkfest (Meaning People's Fair or festival) so it goes without saying that if it's for the people, then it can't just be about drinking right? Well .... that is actually right. The famous German beer festival to end all beer festivals is gargantuan in size, over 40 hectares in fact, and only about half of it is covered in beer halls and beer tents so there is much to do besides guzzling beer.

Munich Oktoberfest - The Veteran and the First Timer
When Mayor Dieter Reiter tapped the first barrel in Munich and passed a stein to the President of the State of Bavaria last weekend he was kicking off something that is seriously BIG. Not only was the size of the beer in his hand extremely large, he was beginning an event that is so enormous in scale that it really must be seen to be believed. Europe's biggest festival - and it's all about beer, or bier as the Germans spell and drink it.

Why is Bavarian Beer So Good
Throughout Germany, beer is extremely popular, so much so that it is now an interwoven and intricate part of German daily life and culture. Maintaining over 1,300 breweries, Germany has more breweries than any other country (except for the United States) and the highest density of those breweries can be found in the Bavaria Region, in the South East of the country.