What is Oktoberfest? Why is it celebrated?« Back to Questions List


Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of German food, drink and culture.  Munich in Germany is the focal point of celebration of this sixteen days long festival. The fete that starts in mid-September ends on the first Sunday of October.  It has a long history of celebrations since 1810. Since its beginning, it has been conducted annually except on occasions of wars and cholera epidemics. 

The first festival was for celebration of the wedding of crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who later on became King Ludwig I, to Theresa, Princess of Saxony- Hildurghausen.  The wedding was held on October 12, 1810 and the celebrations lasted for five days. The festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates were attended by the invited citizens of Munich.  The place was named Theresienwiese, which meant ‘Fields of Theresa’ and later on later on became Wiesn,  after the name of the princess. Other than food, the major attraction of the first fest was a horse race. The fest was well enjoyed by the citizen and the merriment prompted them to make the event an annual one to mark the anniversary of the royal wedding.  Thus, the Oktoberfest originated. 

The popularity of Oktoberfest increased year after year making the fest an elaborate affair. An agricultural show was added to the celebrations in 1811.  Carnival rides were added in 1818. The next event to be added was a parade. Local breweries  also began to put up beer tents  on fair grounds.  Later on, beginning of the festival was preponed to September to take advantage of the better weather conditions. 

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Today, Oktoberfest has become a major event attracting over  six million visitors from various parts of the globe. The festival kicks off with a parade through Munich city. Mayor of the city and other civic leaders lead the parade. Performance by artists in traditional attires, marching bands, horsemen and plenty of floats add colour to the annual event. When the parade reaches Wiesen, the mayor opens the first keg of beer and declares official opening of Oktoberfest. Traditional German food comprising of roast chicken,  beer, sausages etc  and German folk music are the main attractions of modern Oktobersfest. With usage of around 7 million litres of beer, Oktoberfest has become the world’s biggest Volksfest (beer fest)
 

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