After a 1077 day wait, the world’s largest beer festival, Munich’s Oktoberfest, opened its 16 day run over the weekend. And given its two year pandemic break the world definitely needed a beer.
To celebrate its return we’ve collected 5 essential factoids about what some have called “The Mother of all Beer Festivals,” so you’ll look like you know what’s going on.
The Original Oktoberfest was a Royal Wedding
More than 200 years ago Europe took a breather from the brutal Napoleonic wars, to celebrate a wedding. And it was that celebration which laid the foundation for Munich’s Oktoberfest today.
Back in 1810 King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria invited his subjects to celebrate the marriage of his son, Ludwig, to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
Held in a pasture outside of Munich, which became known as Theresienwiese (‘Therese’s Meadow’) in honor of the new Crown Princess, the first gathering was a welcome respite for the war-torn nation
Today that same land (15 acres now surrounded by a bustling German metropolis) is home to Munich’s annual Oktoberfest celebration although its scope and scale has changed considerably.
Oktoberfest doesn’t actually start in October
Although it’s known as Oktoberfest, Munich’s celebration now opens each year in September and closes on the first Sunday in October. This year it opened on September 17 and the drinking will continue until October 3.
The first Oktoberfest was held in October and it stayed that way for a while but its starting date was changed in 1904.
The reason for that change-up is Bavaria’s historically bad weather. It’s been known to snow in Munich in October and that would be a problem for the festival that is now a huge tradition that’s estimated to generate more than €1.2 billion for the German economy.
Strange Things can get lost at Oktoberfest
According to festival officials more than 6 million visitors from over 60 countries attended Oktoberfest 2018 in Munich, where they enthusiastically consumed nearly 7.2m liters of beer, countless bratwursts, pork knuckles, pretzels and oxen (!).
They also lost 1,300 passports (good luck flying home), 620 pieces of clothing (that can happen when you’re feeling festive), 600 wallets, 520 smartphones and cellphones, 360 keys, 325 pairs of glasses, 120 umbrellas, 100 bags and backpacks, 95 pieces of jewelry and 15 cameras…so there’s that.
Also misplaced were a set of dentures (oops!), a pair of crutches, a drinking horn (we’re not at all surprised by that), a pair of leather pants (again) and a luxury lady’s watch by Carl F. Bucher (we’ve been looking for that…who can we call?).
Paris Hilton is permanently banned form Oktoberfest
Things can get wild at Munich’s Oktoberfest. And with visitors as young as fourteen allowed to drink beer (along as they are accompanied by an adult) security is quick to respond to overly physical behavior and visitors who show up provocatively dressed to promote their wares without the festival’s approval
Sixteen years ago Paris Hilton (remember her?), blew it up bigtime at Munich’s Oktoberfest according to momondo…
“Dressed in her skimpiest Bavarian ‘dirndl (the traditional Oktoberfest dress), the American socialite showed up to the 2006 to promote a brand of canned wine, without any sort of prior arrangement with the Oktoberfest organizers. After some sizeable and intoxicated public outrage, Paris was banished from ever returning to the party.”
Only Breweries Located in Munich are allowed to serve their beers at Oktoberfest
For more than 200 years, only beer conforming to the German purity law Reinheitsgebot, and brewed within the city limits of Munich, can be served at Munich’s celebration.
And since ‘Oktoberfest Beer’ is actually a registered trademark held by the Club of Munich Brewers, (which consists of the Munich breweries allowed to attend), it’s usage in Germany is controlled by the festival.
Currently there are six breweries allowed to serve beer at Munich’s Oktoberfest. They’re all relatively big names in Germany and none of them are youngsters.
Augustiner is Munich’s oldest brewery, it was founded in 1328. Spaten was established in 1397. Hacker Pschorr in 1417, Hofbräu in 1583), Löwenbräu (1383?) and Paulaner, a relative newcomer to the club, was founded in 1634.