Facts about Oktoberfest

We found 20 facts about Oktoberfest

The largest Volksfest in the world

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest annual folk festival held in late September and early October in Munich, Germany. Its beginnings date back to the 19th century when it was strictly sports-orientated. Over time, the event turned into a folk festival offering various attractions, to become a Bavarian beer celebration. The entire event has a very festive, colorful character, and became the world’s largest parade of folk costumes.

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest folk festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
It lasts from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October, for 16 to 18 days.
Festivals organized in Bavaria at the end of the brewing season were not uncommon.
Since the beer brewing season in Bavaria, according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, began on September 29th and lasted until April 23rd, it has been decided that the best time to celebrate the end of the season (harvest festival) would be the turn of September and October. The celebration, among other things, consisted of drinking brewed beer.
Munich’s Oktoberfest has been traditionally celebrated for over 200 years.
On October 12th, 1810, the Bavarian prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, married his bride, Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. On the occasion of the wedding, on October 18th, horse races were organized in the meadows outside the city walls - Sendlinger Berg (today Theresienhohe - "Teresa's Meadow"). The area of festivities could hold approximately 40,000 spectators. The citizens invited to the festivities were treated with beer. Before the start of the race, there was a performance in tribute to the bride and groom and the royal family, with 16 pairs of children dressed in traditional costumes from nine Bavarian towns and other regions belonging to the Wittelsbach family estate.
The horse race on a 3270-meter track involved 30 horses.
Prince Ludwig was passionate about antiquity, which is why the competition was held in the style of the ancient Olympic Games. The winner of the race was awarded a gold medal.
This event, initially of a pure sports nature, was very popular among the citizens of Munich.
In view of this fact, the royal court decided to repeat the race in the next year, and the following, and thus the tradition of the Munich Oktoberfest was born. The event was recurring, canceled only because of wars or plagues. The first cancellation of festivities happened during the Napoleonic was in 1813, because of Bavaria’s involvement. Another breakthrough in the tradition occurred as a result of the cholera epidemic in 1854, and 1873 (3,000 inhabitants of Munich died of cholera, including the queen-wife), in 1866 due to the Seven Weeks’ War (Prussian-Austrian War), and because of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. The 2020-2021 Oktoberfest also did not take place, this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until 1871, Oktoberfest was held in October.
Since 1872, the date of the harvest festival has been moved to September. About 5 million liters of beer are drunk during this festival, sold in traditional one-liter mugs called Maßkrug.
Over the years, the festival was enriched with new attractions.
Tree climbs, bowling alleys, and swings have been added to the racetrack. The first carousel was established in 1818. Various types of lotteries with prizes of porcelain, silver and jewelry were organized, attracting especially the poor citizens of the city. In 1819, the management of the festival was taken over by the authorities of the city of Munich (now the Department of Labor and Economics).
Since 1850, the 18-meter statue of Bavaria has been towering over the festival meadow.
Bavaria is the Latin name given to a monumental 19th-century statue in Munich. It is the female personification of the Bavarian homeland. In her left hand, she carries a laurel wreath that symbolizes glory, and on her head is a helmet that symbolizes strength. The statue was commissioned by King Ludwig I. It is inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes and the statue of Zeus from Olympia. On the second Sunday of the festival, artists from various tents gather on the steps in front of Bavaria's dowry to give concerts. On the last Sunday of the festival, mortar shooting takes place under the dowry. Loud shots are a signal that the festival is coming to an end.
In 1853, the Hall of Fame - a three-winged column hall was erected at the foot of Bavaria.
Together with the statue of Bavaria, it constitutes a common construction unit. Inside, busts of important Bavarian personalities are displayed. Initially, there were 74 of them, in 1868 10 new ones were added. In 1888, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of King Ludwig I, a bust of the king himself was placed in the center of the central wall of the Hall of Fame, including a plaque with the inscription: “To King Ludwig I to celebrate his 100th birthday, the grateful Munich.”
From 1850, an important annual and important event of Oktoberfest was the parade, organized on the model of the one held in honor of Ludwig of Bavaria and his wife Therese.
Eight thousand people, mostly from Bavaria, dressed in traditional clothes, walk from Maximilian Street through Munich city center to the Oktoberfest site. At the head of the march is Münchner Kindl, which in the Bavarian dialect means "Munich child" - the name of the symbol in the coat of arms of the city of Munich. The coat of arms figure of Munich in the form of a girl in a black Franciscan habit with a mug in her hand, along with the mayor of the city, leads a procession consisting of hosts, brewery carriages, and music bands.
In 1880, electric light illuminated over 400 booths and tents placed on the grounds of the festival.
The city administration also approved the sale of beer, and the first large tent was erected there in 1888. More and more employees were hired to serve guests, as well as a brass band in costumes from the Oberland (Upper Bavaria region). Large brasseries and chicken fryers began to appear (the first one in 1881). In the outdoor area lighting, 16-arc lamps were installed, which were considered a sensation at the time.
In 1892, the first electric amusement park was established.
The first electrically lit festival tents appeared there in 1901.
In 1895, a procession was held, which was the culmination of the three-day "Festival of Historical and Bavarian Folk Costumes".
For this purpose, patterns of traditional costumes and individual items of historical clothing were collected from all Bavarian backgrounds and costumes were sewn for the participants of the procession. Today, these costumes are a model for the next processions that take place on the first Oktoberfest Sunday. It is the largest parade of national costumes in the world, with about 9,000 participants from Bavaria and all over Europe. The multicolored procession is 7 km long.
When Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1910, 12,000. hectoliters of beer were poured into mugs.
The largest beer tent at that time had space for 12 thousand of guests. Today, the largest festival hall, Hofbräu, houses 10 thousand places and is the largest beer tent at Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest was partially suspended due to World War I.
Two years after the war, the festival was replaced by the “fall festival.” In the following years, due to the economic crisis and hyperinflation, no one considered a beer festival.
In the era of National Socialism, Oktoberfest was used as part of Nazi propaganda.
The Jews were forbidden to work during the organization of the festival. On the 125th anniversary of the holiday, a great Nazi-led jubilee parade was organized in 1935, and when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, the Oktoberfest was renamed the "Great German Folk Festival". In the post-war period, only the "fall festival" took place, and the first post-war Oktoberfest was held in September 1949.
In 1950, the mayor of Munich, Thomas Wimmer, opened Oktoberfest for the first time in the traditional way, meaning by tapping a barrel.
Every year, the participants of the festival expect with great tension how many strokes will be needed for the beer to flow. Thomas Wimmer needed nineteen. Some mayors of the city today manage to do this with two strokes. The first mug of beer is traditionally given to the Bavarian prime minister by saying the words "O'zapft is!", which means “it is tapped.”
In the following years, Oktoberfest developed into the largest folk festival in the world.
With the exception of the 150th anniversary in 1960 and the 200th anniversary in 2010, horse racing was no longer organized after the war.
On the evening of September 26, 1980, a bomb exploded at the main entrance to the festival grounds.
Thirteen people were killed and over 200 were injured. This attack is considered one of the worst terrorist attacks in German history.
From August 31st, 2021, the term "Oktoberfest" is protected as a trademark by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
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