‘O’zapft is! – ‘the barrel is tapped!’ explains Munich’s Lord Mayor after broaching the first cask of beer at 12:00 pm. It’s the official inauguration of the world-famous Oktoberfest. Munich locals as well as hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world will flock to the fairgrounds, commonly known as ‘Wiesn’ (‘meadow’) at the foot of the Bavaria statue. For 16 days the brass band will play upbeat music to complement the candid atmosphere in the beer tents. Oktoberfest-goers will also be treated to dizzying rides on the roller coasters and merry-go-rounds, Turkish delight, roasted almonds and gingerbread hearts.
Fun for All at Oktoberfest
Both high tech modern and traditional nostalgic entertainment features at Oktoberfest, making a heady concoction to complement the beer. There are more than 200 attractions and sideshows to help Oktoberfest-goers have a time to remember. As well as the spectacular large rides such as the Olympia Looping or the Coaster (‘Hollenblitz), there are fairground attractions with a longstanding fairground tradition that can only be found at the Wiesn, such as the flea circus, the ‘Zugspitze-Railway’, the Krinoline (old-fashioned merry-go-round with live music), the Toboggan, the Teufelsrad (‘Devil’s Wheel’), and the Schichtl Variety Show, the latter being a true Oktoberfest tradition.
Oktoberfest Opening Festivities
The Grand Entry of the Oktoberfest kicks off the festival. This is the festive prelude to the inauguration of the Oktoberfest and features beautifully adorned carriages which bear the landlords’ families, the splendid horse-drawn carts of the Munich breweries, waitresses on decorated floats, the beer tent music bands as well as the showmen’s coaches. By tradition, Munich’s Lord Mayor takes part in this event. The procession is headed by the ‘Munchner Kindl,’ a young woman on horseback wearing a monk’s habit.
The Oktoberfest Costume and Riflemen’s Parade is a two-hour parade which typically occurs on the second day of Oktoberfest and invites various groups dressed in traditional costumes, music and marching bands as well as trumpeters, amateur and mounted riflemen. The splendid carts of the Munich breweries, coaches and historical carriages leave the spectators of this stunning even with an unforgettable experience
The special Oktoberfest beer brewed by Munich’s six major breweries is served in fourteen beer tents with a total seating capacity for 100,000 guests. Hofbrauhaus is the largest tent and seats more than 10,000 guests. The draft beer is the perfect drink to accompany Bavarian treats such as Obatza (specially garnished cream cheese), radishes, roast chicken and sausages or spicy fish grilled on a skewer. Ox roasted on a spit is another Wiesn specialty.
All in all, some 141 small and medium caterers invite you to have a swell time. But remember, to book seats in a beer tent, you must contact the respective tent operator directly.
Just to give an idea about how big Oktoberfest is, last year, there were 6.4 million visitors who drank 7.4 million litres of beer and ate 508,958 chickens, 115,015 pairs of pork sausages, 116 oxen and 85 calves.
Truth be told, there are no words to describe Oktoberfest, you have to experience it yourself!