Rather than repeating the same thing other websites do about Oktoberfest, I took a different spin on this festival. The very 1st “Oktoberfest” did start as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Theresa of Saxony Hildburghausen. They were married on October 12, 1810 and yet Oktoberfest begins and ends before October 12th. Therefore, I searched to find more information about Oktoberfest.
The 1st celebration did start when Munich citizens were invited to celebrate the wedding. The following year, horse races were added. Over the years, that celebration morphed into a traditional autumn festival that still was, and still is, held in Munich. It unofficially became known as “Oktoberfest”.
The dates were changed in 1994 in response to the German reunification. German reunification (der Deutschen Einheit or Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process of joining the German Democratic Republic with the Federal Republic of Germany. The reunification process was completed on October 3rd, which is now a 3-day German national holiday: German Unity Day (Deutscher Einheitstag). Following German reunification, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of united Germany. Images of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall’s destruction are often displayed on German Unity Day.
State capitals and other cities often have additional festivities. Oktoberfest traditionally runs until the first Sunday in October. However, if the 1st Sunday is on the 1st or 2nd day of October, the event runs until October 3rd. Reasons for October 3rd being a key date are:
- Initially thought to commemorate the day the Berlin Wall came down, on November 9, 1989. That led to a series of events that led up to the German reunification.
- November 9th also coincided with the Proclamation of the German Republic in 1918.
- It also coincided with the defeat of Hitler’s first coup in 1923.
- The decision was therefore made to be October 3rd, which was the day of the formal reunification.
- It replaced the Day of German Unity, which was held on June 17th, which was the national holiday of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1954.
So, back to Oktoberfest. Now is an autumn festival. By the way, the 2017 dates for Oktoberfest are September 16 to October 3, 2017. The dates for Oktoberfest 2018 will be from September 22 to October 7, 2018 (which contradicts the October 3rd reason above). According to Oktoberfest.de there are 14 different beer tents involved with Oktoberfest and each tent has its own personality. Some cater to tourists and others to locals. All provide an incredible experience.
I figured the best information I could provide would be directly from Oktoberfest German websites. Visit daswiesnzelt to get inside scoop about this year’s event. You can translate the website from German to English using the link at the top right of the website. You can book tickets at a variety of different levels. You can also see photos and videos of past festivals.
The muenchen website lists all 14 Oktoberfest tents and provides brief overviews of each tent.
- Augustiner–Festhalle: Has an authentic atmosphere, which in part is due to the fact that the beer served comes from Munich’s oldest brewery that is still tapped from classic wooden kegs. Friendly waiters and waitresses make it one of the most rustic tents.
- Armbrustschützen–Festhalle is run by Winzerer Fähndl Schützengilde, a shooting club. The tent is decorated in the Alpine foothills style. German crossbow championships are traditionally held here every year during Oktoberfest. Bavarian meat comes entirely from their own livestock. Attention to detail is paid to ensuring the quality is carefully monitored.
- Fischer–Vroni: This tent offers foods other than traditional standard fare. You can also find Oktoberfest delights, including numerous fish dishes such as Bavarian Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick).
- Hackerbräu-Festhalle: This tent hosts a famous white and blue ceiling. It can even be opened, depending on the weather.
- Hofbräu-Festzelt: The ceiling is decorated every year with 16 tonnes of hops. In the center is the angel, Aloisius, who sings his grumpy hosanna.
- Käfer Wies’n Schänke: Hosted by the delicatessen company, Käfer, it is not really a “tent” per se because it’s made from wood. Champagne is served in addition to traditional beer.
- Kufflers Weinzelt: It looks quite different from the other tents. Rather than benches that other tents have, Weinzelt (wine tent) guests sit in u-shaped wooden booths. Why? Those booths are reminiscent of a Franconian wine garden.
- Löwenbräu–Festhalle: Due to the 37-metre high tower, you cannot miss this tent. The Lowenbrau lion sits above the entrance and roars Lööööwenbräu every minute.
- Marstall–Festzelt: One of the newer tents, which replaced the Hippodrom. The tent was named for the former riding school of the Bavarian court and the theme horse-themed.
- Paulanerbräu (Winzerer Fähndl): Has a huge rotating beer tankard on top of the tent’s tower. Older clientele normally frequents this tent. Because of that, the atmosphere tends to be easygoing rather than wild like some of the other tents.
- Pschorrbräu–Festhalle (Bräurosl): Named in honor of the daughter of the Bräurosl brewery owner. Musical entertainment features Pschorrbräu-Festhalle own a female yodeller.
- Schottenhamel–Festhalle: Oldest and most traditional tents. The Schottenhamel family has been represented at Oktoberfest since 1867. Each year, the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of beer.
- Schützen–Festhalle: The traditional Bavarian Sport Shooting Association Oktoberfest shooting takes place. The garden of the Schützenzelt is protected against the wind, which makes it comfortable outdoors even when the weather is cool.
- Spatenbräu–Festhalle (Ochsenbraterei): For the past 130 years, 90 highly prized horned oxen are normally consumed throughout the entire Oktoberfest event. Keeping with tradition, the 1st ox that is consumed at Oktoberfest bears the last name of the butcher. Every ox is personally selected by the owner of the municipal estate of Gut Karlshof.
If you go, consider also touring some breathtakingly beautiful German cities and locations. In addition to being the host of Oktoberfest, München (Munich) is the capital of Bavaria and also the gateway to the Alps. The picturesque views are breathtaking. Neuschwanstein, within the Bavarian Alps, is one of the most famous castles throughout the world. Nuremberg Is Bavaria’s 2nd largest city and is 950 years old and one of the most popular Christmas markets titled: Christkindlmarkt. Also from Nuremberg are the original Nuremberg Rostbratwurst also referred to as: “The Queen of Bratwurst”.
Nuremberg also became known for lebkuchen (listen) primarily due to the city’s location along ancient trading and spice routes of the Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers and was also where the best known bakers’ guild was located. As honey was the most coveted sweetener in that era, bakers worked with the beekeepers of the Zeidler guild, whose beekeeping and bee breeding thrived in the forests around Nuremberg. This made all of the ingredients that are in lebkuchen and gingerbread easily available and the rest is history.
Whether you go to Munich to experience Oktoberfest in person or celebrate at home, consider serving some authentic German Oktoberfest-type foods at home:
- Knödel (German home-made dumplings)
- Bratwurstküche (Nuremberg grilled sausages)
- Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)
- Oktoberfest Strudel with Mustard Sauce
- Gurkensalat mit Sahne (cucumber with cream)
- Apfelpfannekuchen (apple pancakes)
- Fränkischer Sauerbraten (Franconian marinated beef)
- Bavarian pretzels
- Lebkuchen (gingerbread)
Willkommen auf dem Oktoberfest
(Welcome to Oktoberfest)