What’s Oktoberfest?

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Oktoberfest is an annual festival in Munich, Germany, featuring beer, food, and traditional crafts. It began as a horse race in 1810 and has since become the largest fair in the world. The festival lasts for 16 days and is held in Theresienwiese, where well-known German breweries erect large tents serving Maß, a dark beer traditionally served in liter steins. Many people dress up in traditional Bavarian costume. Oktoberfest is celebrated in many communities with large German populations.

Oktoberfest is an annual autumn festival that takes place in Munich, Germany. It is associated with the consumption of large quantities of beer and traditional German foods, along with general feasting. With a few exceptions due to warfare, Germans have celebrated Oktoberfest every year since 1810, although the early version of the event was dramatically different from the modern incarnation. Many communities with large German populations host their own versions of Oktoberfest each year, encouraging people to celebrate their German heritage and join in fellowship.

The first Oktoberfest was actually a horse race, held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig I and his wife Therese Saxe-Hildburghausen. The contest was such a success that the Germans decided to repeat the event, even adding a fair, and slowly but steadily, beer entered the mix, eventually becoming the main feature of Oktoberfest. Horse racing was abandoned in the mid-20th century, but you can still buy a wide range of handicrafts at the fair when it runs at the same time as Oktoberfest.

The center of the modern Oktoberfest is Theresienwiese, “Therese’s field”. Large tents are erected on the field by many well-known German breweries, serving beer that is popular with event attendees. The tents typically also have bands playing German music, and people can wander around sampling different beers, listening to music, eating classic German and Bavarian foods, and looking at traditional crafts. Many people also like to dress up in traditional Bavarian costume when attending Oktoberfest, to get into the spirit of things.

One of the most distinctive features of the Oktoberfest is a dark, rich beer called Maß, which is traditionally served in liter steins. The price of this beer is often a topic of discussion among enthusiasts of the event; it can be an indicator of general economic health and price increases are of course always a matter of complaint. The event opens with the ceremonial tapping of the mayor of Munich on a keg of Maß and lasts for 16 days. During Oktoberfest, huge crowds descend on Munich, making it the largest fair in the world.

People who want to attend Oktoberfest can often book special Oktoberfest packages with Munich organizations. These packages can include reservations at specific beer tents, along with beer and food vouchers. It’s a good idea to make arrangements to attend well in advance, as accommodations fill up quickly.

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