Oktoberfest is the world's largest funfair held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event.
The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place during the 16 days up to, and including, the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October, to mark the anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich's center. Large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed, with almost 7 million litres served during the 16 day festival in 2007. Visitors may also enjoy a mixture of attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls and games, as well as a wide variety of traditional food such as Hendl (roast chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's meadow") in honor of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the "Wiesn". To end the celebrations from the Royal wedding on 17 October, horse races where held in their honor, presumably thought to have been a repetition of the Scharlachrennen (Scarlet Race) which took place in the 15th century in front of the Karlstor and was part of the Jakobidult. The idea was proposed by Andreas Micheal Dall’Armi, who was a Major in the National Guard. It is reported that the initial idea that led to the horse races and Oktoberfest were proposals from a coachman, and Sergeant in the National Guard, Franz Baumgartner. However, the origin of the festival is controversial.
The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.
The fairground outside the city was chosen due to its natural suitability. The Sendlinger mountain (today Theresienhohe) was used as a grandstand for 40,000 spectators of the race. The festival grounds remained undeveloped except for the king’s tent. The tastings of "Traiteurs" and other Wine and beer took place above the visitors in the stands on the hill. Before the race started, a performance took place in homage of the bridegroom and of the royal family in the form of a train of 16 pairs of children dressed in Wittelsbach costumes, and costumes from the then nine Bavarian townships and other regions. Followed by the difficult race with 30 horses on a 11200 Foot (3270 meters) long racetrack, and concluded with the singing of a choir of students. The first horse to cross the line was the possible initiator Franz Baumgartner, which was presented with his gold medal by the racing champion and Minister of State Maximilian Graf von Montgelas.
Transformation into a Public Festival
In 1811, an agricultural show was added to promote Bavarian agriculture. In 1813 the festival was canceled due to the involvement of Bavaria in the Napoleonic wars. After which the Oktoberfest grew from year to year. The horse races were accompanied by tree climbing, bowling allies, and swings as other attractions. In 1818, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes that were awarded were those of silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819, and it was decided that Oktoberfest be made an annual event. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, because days are longer and warmer at the end of September. The horse race continued until 1960, and the agricultural show still exists and is held every four years on the southern part of the festival grounds.
To honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a parade took place for the first time in 1810. Since 1850, the parade has become an annual event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. Eight thousand people—mostly from Bavaria—in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street through the centre of Munich to the Oktoberfest grounds. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.
Since 1850, the statue of Bavaria has watched over the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and "Germanised" the draft. The statue was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.
In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was completed. In 1854, the festival was cancelled after 3,000 residents of Munich died during a cholera epidemic. There was no Oktoberfest in 1866 because Bavaria was involved in the Austro-Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War forced the cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was cancelled due to another cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated more than 400 booths and tents. In 1881, booths selling bratwurst opened and the first Beers were served in glass mugs in 1892. At the end of the 19th century, a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. Organizers wanted more room for guests and musicians which resulted in the booths becoming beer halls which are still used today.
In 1887, the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries took place for the first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and serves as the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration
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In 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th anniversary. Some 120,000 litres of beer were poured. In 1913, the Bräurosl was founded, which was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent ever, with room for approximately 12,000 people.
From 1914 to 1918, World War I prevented the celebration of Oktoberfest. In 1919 and 1920, the two years after the war, Munich celebrated only an "Autumn Fest." In 1923 and 1924, the Oktoberfest was not held due to inflation.
During the period of National Socialism, Oktoberfest was used for Nazi propaganda. 1933, the price for the amount of beer was set to 90 Pfennig; and Jews were forbidden to work at the Oktoberfest. 1935, the 125th Weisn anniversary was celebrated with immense importance; not only with a big anniversary parade with the motto "Proud City - Cheerful country", which stood for the alleged overcoming of the social layers and classes, and in which demonstrated the Gleichschaltung and the consolidated power of the Nazi regime. In March 1938, Hitler had annexed Austria and won Sudetenland with the Munich Agreement - Oktoberfest was renamed to "Greater German folk festival". The Nazi regime transported a large number of Sudeten Germans on the festival grounds.
During World War II, from 1939 to 1945, no Oktoberfest took place. Following the war, from 1946 to 1948, Munich celebrated only the "Autumn Fest." The sale of proper Oktoberfest beer—2% stronger in Gravity than normal beer—was not permitted; guests could only drink normal beer. Since its existence, the Oktoberfest did not take place 24 times.
Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening: A twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 by the incumbent Mayor of Munich with the cry "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) opens the Oktoberfest. The Mayor then gives the first beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. The first mayor to tap the keg was Thomas Wimmer.
Before the festival officially starts at 12 PM, there is the famous parades of the traditional gun clubs, waitresses and landlords of the tents. Mostly there are two different parades which both end at the Theresienwiesn. They start around 9.45 a.m. to 10.50 a.m.
Horse races ended in 1960.
Traditional visitors wear during the Oktoberfest Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte), which contain a tuft of chamois hair (Gamsbart). Historically, in Bavaria chamois hair was highly valued and prized. The more tufts of chamois hair on one's hat, the wealthier one was considered to be. Technology helping, this tradition ended with the appearance of chamois hair imitations on the market.
For them as well as for the general medical treatment of visitors the Bavarian branch of German Red Cross operates an aid facility and provides emergency medical care on the festival grounds, staffed with around 100 volunteer medics and doctors per day. They serve together with special detachments of Munich police, fire department and other municipal authorities in the service centre at the Behördenhof (authorities' court), a large building specially built for the Oktoberfest at the east side of the Theresienwiese, just behind the tents. There is also a place for lost & found children, a lost property office, a security point for women and other public services.
Since the 1970s, local German gay organizations have organized "Gay Days" at Oktoberfest, which by the 21st century always began in the Bräurosl tent on the first Sunday.
1980 Oktoberfest bomb blast
A pipe bomb was set off in a dustbin at the restrooms at the main entrance on September 26, 1980 at 22:19. The bomb consisted of an empty fire extinguisher filled with 1.39 kilograms of TNT and mortar shells. Thirteen people were killed, over 201 were injured, 68 seriously. This was the second deadliest terrorist attack in the history of Germany after the Munich Massacre. Governmental authorities propounded a summary of official inquires, purporting that a right-wing extremist Gundolf Köhler from Donaueschingen, a social outcast who was killed in the explosion, was the lone perpetrator. However, this account is strongly disputed by various groups.
To keep the Oktoberfest, and especially the beer tents, friendly for older people and families, the concept of the "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed in 2005. Until 6:00 pm, the tents only play quiet music, for example traditional wind music. Only after that will Schlager and pop music be played, which had led to more violence in earlier years. The music played in the afternoon is limited to 85 decibels. With these rules, the organisers of the Oktoberfest were able to curb the over-the-top party mentality and preserve the traditional beer tent atmosphere.
Since 2005 the last travelling Enterprise ride of Germany, called Mondlift, is back on the Oktoberfest.
Starting in 2008, a new Bavarian law intended to ban smoking in all enclosed spaces that are open to the public, even at the Oktoberfest. Because of problems enforcing the anti-smoking law in the big tents there was an exception for the Oktoberfest 2008, although the sale of tobacco was not allowed. After heavy losses in the 2008 local elections with the smoke ban being a big issue in debates, the state's ruling party meanwhile implemented special exemptions to beer tents and small pubs. The change in regulation is aimed in particular at large tents at the Oktoberfest: So, smoking in the tents is still legal, but the tents usually have non-smoking areas. The sale of tobacco in the tents is now legal, but it is abandoned by agreement. However, in early 2010 a referendum held in Bavaria as a result of a popular initiative re-instituted the original, strict, smoking ban of 2008; thus, no beer will be sold to people caught smoking in the tents. The blanket smoking ban will not take effect until 2011, but all tents will institute the smoking ban this year as to do the "dry run" to identify any unforeseeable issues. The common issue when the smoking ban is in effect is the nauseating stench of stale beer spilled on the floor, which the smoking masked.
2010 marked the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. For the anniversary, there was a horse race in historical costumes on opening day. A so-called "Historische Wiesn" (historical Oktoberfest) took place, starting one day earlier than usual on the southern part of the festival grounds. A specially brewed beer (solely available at the tents of the historical Oktoberfest), horse races, and a museum tent gave visitors an impression of how the event felt a century ago.
In 2013, 6.4 million people visited Oktoberfest, and the festival served 6.7 million liters of beer.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary in 2010 a so-called Historisches Oktoberfest (Historical Oktoberfest) was designed on the site of the Central Agricultural Festival at the south end of the Theresienwiese. It opened one day before the actual Oktoberfest with the traditional keg tapping by the Lord Mayor. The comprehensive five acres of fenced grounds presented historic rides, beer tents and other historical attractions such as a Steckerlfischgrilling, a chain swing and a cotton candy stand. With purchase of admission an animal tent and the racecourse could be visited next to the museum. The animal tent included, among other things, a petting zoo, and was managed by the Hellabrunn Zoo and the Bavarian Farmers Association. The Munich Stadtmuseum took over the design of the museum tent. The Oktoberfest anniversary was accompanied by an artistic and cultural program, in which for example the Biermösl Blosn performed. The bands in the relatively small Herzkasperl Festzelt - holding 850 seats - had to do without electrical amplification. The fest tent name derives from a famous stage character of the actor Jörg Hube, who had died 2009. The six Munich breweries Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten presented a special exclusively brewed dark beer, which was made after a historic recipe from the early 19th century. The beer mugs in the beer tents did not have the company logo of the brewery, but the inscription Munich beer. Unlike the usual Oktoberfest, the Historic Wiesn closed at 8pm. Instead of the expected 300,000 guests of the city council, well over half a million visitors came. The festival site had to temporarily close due to overcrowding several times. According to the Munich City Council Decision on October 16th 2012, the entry for the Historical Oktoberfest, now called Oide Wiesn (bavarian for old fairground), 2013 was to be three euros again. For the first time a re-entry was possible with the tickets. The historic rides in 2013 required a Euro entry. The Musicians tent increased the number of indoor seats from 1000 to 1,500. Outside, it increased from 800 to 1,000. The city of Munich supported the showman Foundation with €200,000, so they could ran a museum tent, a velodrome as well as a children's program.  In 2013, the terrain was enlarged and attractive entrances were added. According to City Council decision there will be an Oide Wiesn in 2015 before the Central Agricultural Exhibition claims the locations again on the Theresienwiese in 2016.
The breweries that can produce Oktoberfest Beer under the criteria are:
Oktoberfest Beer is a registered trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers, which consists of the above six breweries. 
Facts and data
The Oktoberfest is known as the Largest Volksfest (People's Fair) in the World. In 1999 there were six and a half million visitors to the 42 hectare Theresienwiese. 72% of the people are from Bavaria. 15% of visitors come from foreign countries like the surrounding EU-countries and other non-European countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and East Asia.
Besides the Oktoberfest, there are other public festivals that take place at the same location. In April/May it's the Munich Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) and Tollwood-Festival in December with 650,000 visitors.
After the Oktoberfest the next largest people fairs in Germany are the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart with about 4.5 million visitors each year, the Cranger Kirmes in Herne (Wanne-Eickel) (the largest fair in Northrhine-Westphalia) with 4.4 million visitors, the Rheinkirmes in Düsseldorf (called Largest Fair on the Rhine) and the Freimarkt in Bremen (the biggest fair in northern Germany) with over 4 million visitors per year each. Also noteworthy is the "Schützenfest Hannover", the world's largest marksmen's Fun Fair in Hanover with over 1 million visitors per year.
In recent years, the Oktoberfest runs for 16 days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. However, if day 16 falls before October 3 (German Unity Day), then the festival will continue until the 3rd. (see table below)
|2000||Sep 16 – Oct 3||18 days|
|2001||Sep 22 – Oct 7|
|2002||Sep 21 – Oct 6|
|2003||Sep 20 – Oct 5|
|2004||Sep 18 – Oct 3||with ZLF*|
|2005||Sep 17 – Oct 3||17 days|
|2006||Sep 16 – Oct 3||18 days|
|2007||Sep 22 – Oct 7|
|2008||Sep 20 – Oct 5||175th Oktoberfest (with ZLF*)|
|2009||Sep 19 – Oct 4|
|2010||Sep 18 – Oct 4||200th Anniversary (with BLF)|
|2011||Sep 17 – Oct 3||17 days|
|2012||Sep 22 – Oct 7|
|2013||Sep 21 – Oct 6|
|2014||Sep 20 – Oct 5|
|2015||Sep 19 – Oct 4|
* Bayerisches Zentral-Landwirtschaftsfest (Bavarian Central Agriculture Fair)
Rubbish and toilets
Nearly 1,000 tons of rubbish result annually from the Oktoberfest. The mountains of rubbish created are hauled away and the ways cleanly washed down each morning. The cleaning is paid for in part by the city of Munich and in part by the sponsors.
In 2004 the queues outside the toilets became so long that the police had to regulate the entrance. To keep traffic moving through the toilets, men headed for the toilets were directed to the urinals (giant enclosed grate) if they only needed to urinate. Consequently, the number of toilets was increased by 20% in 2005. Approximately 1,800 toilets and urinals are available at this time.
Many Oktoberfest guests visit the quiet stalls in order to use their phones. For this reason there were plans in 2005 to install a Faraday cage around the toilets or to use Mobile phone jammers to prevent telephoning with a mobile telephone. Jamming devices are, however, illegal in Germany, and Faraday cages made of copper would have been too expensive, so these ambitious plans were dropped, and signs were placed instead, warning toilet users not to use cell phones in the stalls.
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There are currently fourteen large tents and twenty small tents at the Oktoberfest. The tents are non-permanent structures which are constructed for and only used during the festival. The beer (or wine) served in each is in the accompanying table.
|Käfers Wiesen Schänke||Paulaner||1,000||1,900|
|Ammer Hühner & Entenbraterei||Augustiner||450||450|
|Bodo's Cafezelt||Exotic Cocktails||450||0|
|Café Kaiserschmarrn||Cocktail bar||400||0|
|Café Mohrenkopf||XXL- Cocktails||420||0|
|Feisingers Ka's und Weinstubn||Wine & Wheat Beer||92||90|
|Heimer Hendl- und Entenbratere||Paulaner||400||0|
|Heinz Wurst- Und Hühnerbraterei||Paulaner||360||0|
|Poschners Hühner- Und Entenbraterei||Hacker-Pschorr||350||0|
|Schiebl's Kaffeehaferl||Irish Coffee||100||0|
|Wiesn Guglhupf Café-Dreh-Bar||Mix Bar||60||0|
|Wirtshaus im Schichtl||120||0|
- Hippodrom – Translates as "Horse race place" from Greek. One of the larger tents, it's the first tent that many visitors see at the fest. As well as serving normal Wiesn beer, it has a Sekt (sparkling wine) bar and Maß of Weißbier. Considered one of the trendiest tents, and attracts the occasional celebrity. Traditionally in the evening the Oktoberfest band the Münchner Zwietracht (de) plays all the Oktoberfest classics. 
- Armbrustschützenzelt – Translates as the "Crossbowman's Tent", a competition that has been a part of the Oktoberfest since 1895.
- Hofbräu-Festzelt – The counterpart to the famous Hofbräuhaus, this tent is especially popular with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders.
- Hacker-Festzelt – One of the largest tents on the Wiesn, they have a rock band that plays during the evening break of the brass band. This tent is also known as "Himmel der Bayern" (Heaven of the Bavarians).
- Schottenhamel – Reckoned to be the most important tent at the Oktoberfest, mainly because it is where it starts. On the first Saturday of the event, no beer is allowed to be served until the mayor of Munich (currently Dieter Reiter) taps the first keg, at noon. Only then can the other tents begin to serve beer. Very popular amongst younger people. A substantial part of the tent is guaranteed to traditional Studentenverbindungen (a particular form of student fraternities) and outfitted with their distinctive colors and coats of arms.
- Winzerer Fähndl – Translates as "Winzerers (bavarian surname) flag". This tent is noted for its huge tower, with a Maß of Paulaner beer sitting atop it.
- Schützen-Festhalle – This is a mid-sized tent. Situated under the Bavaria statue, the current tent was newly built in 2004.
- Käfers Wiesen Schänke – The smallest of the large tents at the Oktoberfest, it is frequented by celebrities, and is known for its especially good food. In contrast to the other tents (which must close by 11 pm), it is open until 12:30 am, but it can be very difficult to get in.
- Weinzelt – Translates as "wine tent". This tent offers a selection of more than 15 wines, as well as Weißbier.
- Löwenbräu-Festhalle – Above the entrance is a 4.50 meter (15 foot) lion who occasionally drinks from his beer. This is overshadowed by another tower where another drinking lion sits.
- Bräurosl (Hacker-Pschorr) – Translates as "brewers Rosemary". Named after the daughter of the original brewery owner (Pschorr), this tent has the usual brass band and a yodeler.
- Augustiner-Festhalle – Considered by many locals to be the best tent, due to the fact it sells the favourite local brew, Augustiner, from individually tapped wooden kegs rather than stainless steel vats used by the other tents.
- Ochsenbraterei – True to its name, this tent offers a great variety of ox dishes.
- Fischer-Vroni – Translates as "Fishers Veronika". Another of the smaller tents. Fisch is the German word for fish and this tent carries a huge selection in its menu. The main dish is Steckerlfisch, which is grilled outside of the tent.
- Able's Kalbs-Kuchl – Resembling a large Bavarian hut, the “calf kitchen” is traditional and inviting yet still has a lively party atmosphere which Oktoberfest fans crave.
- Ammer Hühner & Entenbraterei – In 1885, poultry dealer Joseph Ammer was allowed to construct his small booth at the Oktoberfest, creating the world’s first chicken roastery. Duck is offered as well.
- Bodo's Cafezelt – Don’t come to Bodo’s looking for beer. Instead you’ll find, exotic cocktails, Prosecco, champagne, coffee, donuts, ice cream, pastry, and strudel variations of all kinds.
- Café Kaiserschmarrn – Beautifully created by Rischart, the Café holds a daily commemoration of the occasion of the first Oktoberfest – the wedding of Ludwig I and Therese of Saxony.
- Café Mohrenkopf – Since 1950 Café Mohrenkopf has been baking cakes and pies fresh daily in the Oktoberfest tent.
- Feisingers Ka's und Weinstubn – Cheese and everything that complements the cheese is the specialty of the house in this unique tent.
- Glöckle Wirt – A visual treat, decorated with oil paintings, antique instruments and cooking utensils, the Glöckle Wirt offers its visitors an authentic Oktoberfest experience in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
- Heimer Hendl- und Entenbraterei – Very popular among the locals, Heimer’s is a family-friendly tent where authentic Oktoberfest tradition is timeless.
- Heinz Wurst- Und Hühnerbraterei – Since 1906, the Heinz Sausage and Chicken Grill has been a fixture on the Wiesn, specializing in authentic Oktoberfest tradition.
- Hochreiters Haxnbraterei – Quality is paramount in Hochreiter’s tent, where their BBQ experts prepare mouth-watering pork knuckles in the only haxenbraterei on the Wiesn.
- Münchner Knödelei – The dumpling is an icon of Bavarian cuisine, and “preserving and spreading the dumpling culture” is the motto of this smaller tent.
- Poschners Hühner- Und Entenbraterei – Poschner’s famous roasted chicken and duck has been a tradition on the Wiesn for four generations.
- Schiebl's Kaffeehaferl – With seating for about 100, Schiebl’s comfy coffeehouse tent is a friendly meeting place for the whole family. - Haferl is the bavarian term for a (coffee, tea...) mug or pot.
- Wiesn Guglhupf Café-Dreh-Bar – A Guglhupf is a German cake, like an English bundt cake, and this slowly moving carousel bar is easy to spot because it’s shaped like one.
- Wildmoser Hühnerbraterei – Owned by family Wildmoser since 1981, this small tent has been adopted and popularized by the Munich locals.
- Wildstuben – The newest tent at Oktoberfest, you’ll appreciate the intricate details of the woodwork and the homey hunting lodge ambiance.
- Wirtshaus im Schichtl – The mayor Christian Ude once wrote: "An Oktoberfest without Schichtl is inconceivable. The Schichtl is as essential as the beer, the radish and the chicken."
- Zum Stiftl – Zum Stiftl is famous for its traditional duck and roasted chicken dishes, cozy atmosphere, and daily entertainment.
- Zur Bratwurst – Debuting in 2007, the Hochreiter family have brought back the former Bratwurstglöckl in the spirit of good old Munich Oktoberfest.
- Beer festival
- Oktoberfest of Blumenau
- German beer
- International Beer Day
- Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
- Oktoberfest celebrations
- Schunkeln (sway dance)
- Stuttgart Spring and Autumn Festival
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- Oktoberfest-Live Google Translation EN, DE, IT, FR, GR
- EU Oktoberfest website (German)
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- German Oktoberfest website (German)
- German-English Oktoberfest lexicon
- Information about Munich Beer and the Purity Law from 1516 from the Club of Munich Brewers (German)