All about Oktoberfest (Wiesn)
„O`zapft ist!“ On september 19th at twelve noon the Oktoberfest – the world’s biggest festival – is starting. This year it is the 182nd time it takes place. From 9 AM you can start looking for a place inside the tents. But you have to be extremely fast, since most of the tents are already crowded after a little while. Before the mayor of Munich starts with the “Anstich” at exactly twelve noon, festively decorated horse-drawn carriages are parading into the Oktoberfest.
The History of Oktoberfest
Everything started in October 12th 1810 with the wedding of crown prince Ludwig (later called Ludwig I.) and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In order to celebrate the event in a appropriate way, it was decided to have a five days long celebration for the people. In honour of the bride the meadow was called “Theresien-Wiese” (Wiese means meadow). In October 17th the Oktoberfest ended with a big horse race.
Till this day the Oktoberfest area is still called Theresienwiese and most of the locals call it only “Wiesn”. The celebration was so successful among the people that it was decided to organise it every year. By the end of the 19th century the number of showmen became bigger and bigger and soon the big breweries joined the Oktoberfest. The division in streets with booths where all the tents are and the streets with showmen and rides remained over the years.
The Oktoberfest is with its 6 million visitors the biggest festival in the world. The original charm is not that distinctive as in the first years, which can be seen especially with wearing traditional dresses.
Why does the Oktoberfest take place in September?
Although the Oktoberfest took place in October in the beginning, in 1872 it was decided to hold it in September. The reason is simple. In October it is already too cold in Germany, that’s why it was meant to use the last warm days of summer in order to celebrate the Wiesn. Since then the Oktoberfest starts always on the first Saturday after September 15th. This year it takes place from September 19th to October 4th. The last Wiesn-Sunday is always very special. A gigantic light spectacle of sparkler creates a romantic and emotional atmosphere.
Rides and Food Booths
Around 200 Showmen offer the most modern technical rides and raise the adrenalin of the Wiesn guests. Starting with a wild roller-coaster, a Ferris wheel and a flea circus there is every kind of ride on the Wiesn you can imagine. Some rides are present at the Wiesn from the very beginning. For instance the “Krinoline” is a nostalgic carousel with a brass band that is present every year since the beginning of the 20th century. Another cult is the magic theatre “Schicht’l”. Since 1872 there is always a person from the audience that gets beheaded by a guillotine at this magic theatre.
By the time you get hungry you can choose between many different types of food. Some booths offer for instance “Ochsensemmeln” (ox sandwiches), some “Fischsemmeln” (fish sandwiches). In the tents you can choose between “Schweinebraten” (joint of pork) or “Spätzle” and everything the Bavarian cuisine has to offer. A traditional dish is of course the “Münchner Wiesnhendl” (Oktoberfest chicken) with a “Riesenbrezen” (gigantic pretzel).
In the late night toboggan is real tradition. Toboggan is a ride that transports people with a conveyor belt to the top. Especially after a few drinks and a raising level of alcohol it is obvious that it does not always work smoothly, but at least it is always very funny and makes even visitors laugh.
Tips regarding traditional costumes
Traditionally men are wearing “Lederhosen” (leather trousers) and women “Dirndl” (traditional dresses). The bow of the Dirndl has a very special meaning. A bow on the left means that you are single. A bow on the right that you are married or in a relationship. A bow in the middle means you are a virgin and a bow at the back that you are a widow.
Now you are perfectly prepared to experience the Wiesn to fullest and enjoy a “Maß Bier” (one liter of beer) with “Hendl” (chicken).