OKTOBERFEST: MUNICH, GERMANY
Oktoberfest (literally translated to October Festival) is a two-week festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, during late September and early October. It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world's largest fair, with some six million people attending every year.
Other cities across the world also hold fairs, modeled after the Munich event, called Oktoberfest.
The event takes place during the 16 days before the first Sunday in October (unless the 3rd of October "Tag der deutschen Einheit" - the German national day is a Monday or Tuesday) on an area named the "Theresienwiese", often called "d' Wiesn" ("the meadow" in Bavarian dialect) for short. Beer plays a central role in the fair, with every festival beginning with a keg of beer tapped by the Mayor of Munich who declares "O'zapft is!" (Bavarian for "It's tapped!").
A special Oktoberfest beer is brewed for the occasion, which is slightly darker and stronger, in both taste and alcohol. It is served in a one-liter-tankard called Mass [mass]. Only local Munich breweries are allowed to serve this beer in so-called Bierzelte (beer tents) which hold some 3,000-10,000 people.
Only six Munich breweries are allowed to serve beer at Oktoberfest - Lowenbrau, Spaten, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr.
Visitors also consume large quantities of food, most of it traditional hearty fare such as sausage, hendl (chicken), kasespatzle (cheese noodles), and sauerkraut, along with such Bavarian delicacies as roast ox tails.
HISTORY OF OKTOBERFEST
The first Oktoberfest, held from October 12-October 17, 1810 in Munich, was to celebrate the occasion of the wedding of Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen, and was ended with a horse race.
Because of its success, it was repeated annually, later also with an agricultural fair, dance, music and amusement rides. The celebration had to be cancelled 24 times due to war, disease or other problems. Horse races ended in 1960.
Ironically, the modern Oktoberfest runs mostly during the month of September. The dates were changed to take advantage of better summer weather which made the fair even more popular. Largely due to coincidence, the festival now ends on or near October 3, which became the German national holiday in the early 1990s.
THE TENTS OF OKTOBERFEST
There are currently 14 main tents at the Oktoberfest. The tents themselves are semi-permanent structures which are only occupied during the festival. The beer (or wine) served in each is in brackets after the tent name:
- Hippodrom (Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau) - One of the smaller 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.
- Armbrustschutzenzelt (Paulaner) - Translates as the "Crossbow Shooters Tent", a competition that has been a part of the Oktoberfest since 1895.
- Hofbrau Festzelt (Hofbrau Munchen) - The counterpart to the famous Hofbrauhaus, this tent is especially popular with Americans and Antipodeans.
- Hacker-Festzelt (Hacker-Pschorr) - One of the largest tents on the Wiesn, they have a rock band that plays from 5:30 each evening (as opposed to the traditional brass band). This tent is also known as "Himmel der Bayern" (Heaven for Bavarians)
- Schottenhammel (Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau) - 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 Christian Ude) taps the first keg, at 12pm. Only then can the other tents begin to serve beer. Very popular amongst younger people.
- Winzerer Fahndl (Paulaner) - This tent is noted for its huge tower, with a Mass of Paulaner beer sitting atop it.
- Schutzen-Festhalle (Lowenbrau) - This is a mid-sized tent. Situated under the Bavaria statue, the current tent was newly built in 2004.
- Kafers Wiesen Schanke (Paulaner) - The smallest tent 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 11pm), it is open until 0:30am, but it can be very difficult to get in.
- Weinzelt (Nymphenburger Sekt, Paulaner Weissbier) - This tent offers a selection of more than 15 wines, as well as Weissbier.
- Lowenbrau-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.
- Braurosl (Hacker-Pschorr) - Named after the daughter of the original brewery owner (Pschorr), this tent has the usual brass band and a yodeler.
- Augustiner-Festhalle (Augustiner Brau) - Considered by many elderly locals to be the best tent, due to the fact it sells the favourite local brew, Augustiner.
- Ochsenbraterei (Spaten) - True to its name, this tent offers a great variety of ox dishes.
- Fischer Vroni (Augustiner) - Another of the smaller tents. Fisch is the German word for fish and this tent carries a huge selection in its menu.
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DATES OF NEXT EVENTS:|
• 2011: September 17 to October 3