Munich’s claim to fame
Munich’s Oktoberfest or Beer Festival, known as the Wies’n to locals (short for the Theresienwiese park it’s held in), is the world’s biggest public festival. Held annually for a fortnight from the third Saturday in September, Oktoberfest draws a huge international crowd keen to soak up the Bavarian culture, gemütlich atmosphere, and the ale!
The bacchanalian festivities originated with the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony in October 1810 when Munich residents were invited to celebrate the union in a meadow (wies’n) where horse races provided the entertainment. The first proper Oktoberfest with brewers’ tents wasn’t until 1818, and locals and visitors have been raising their steins ever since.
Around 7 million revellers head to Munich every year knocking back a combined 4 million litres of beer. The main event is 14 massive beer tents, 9 of which belong to local breweries, that seat up to 8,500 people on multiple floors, plus further seating outside in beer gardens. The ‘big 6’ Munich breweries are Lowenbräu, Spatenbräu, Augustiner, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Hackerbräu, and to keep it simple there’s only one beer on offer in each tent - a specially brewed Oktoberfest-Bier with a hefty alcohol content served in 1-litre steins.
The first weekend starts with traditional parades from the city centre to the Wies’n where the Lord Mayor officially opens the beer fest by tapping the first barrel. Traditional Bavarian dress of lederhosen for the gents and dirndls for the gals is de rigueur and all part of the messy fun. Just try to moderate your intake to avoid being called a ‘bierleichen’ or ‘beer corpse’ due to your unconscious and inebriated state. Oktoberfest is hugely popular so make sure you book accommodation well in advance. To get to Oktoberfest, the closest U-Bahn stations are Theresienwiese, Schwanthalerhöhe or Goetheplatz, which enter the grounds at different spots.
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