The original "Oktoberfest"
The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 18, 1810: For the
commemoration of their marriage, Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of
Saxe-Hildburghausen organized a great horse race (the marriage took place on
October 12; the horse race on October 17 — therefore, there are different dates
named as being the first Oktoberfest).
First hundred years
In the year 1812, the Oktoberfest was cancelled since Bavaria was involved in
the Napoleonic war. In 1816, carnival booths appeared. The main prizes were
silver, porcelain, and jewelry. In 1819, the founding citizens of Munich
assumed responsibility over festival management. It was agreed that the
Oktoberfest would be celebrated each and every year without exception. Later, it
was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that the end of
September in Bavaria often has very good weather. The high temperature in the
first week of Oktoberfest nears 19°C which stimulates the thirst of the
visitors. However, today the last week of Oktoberfest is still in October.
To honor the marriage of
King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, a parade took place for the first time in
1835. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of
the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people — mostly from Bavaria — in traditional costumes
walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest.
The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.
Bavaria statue above the TheresienwieseSince 1850, the statue of Bavaria has
watched the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo
von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and "Germanised"
the draft; it was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von
In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was finished. In 1854, 3,000 residents of
Munich succumbed to an epidemic of cholera, so the festival was cancelled. Also,
in the year 1866, there was no Oktoberfest as Bavaria fought in the
Austro-Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war was the reason for
cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was once more cancelled due
to a cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated over 400 booths
and tents. In 1881, booths selling bratwursts opened. Beer was first served in
glass mugs in 1892.
Oktoberfest at night with view of Löwenbräu tentAt the end of the 19th century,
a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large
dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. They wanted more room
for guests and musicians. The booths became beer halls.
In 1887, the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries took place for the
first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the
breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes
place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and symbolises the official
prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration
In the year 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th birthday. 120,000 litres of
beer were poured. In 1913, the Bräurosl was founded, which was the largest
Oktoberfest beer tent of all time, with room for about 12,000 guests (today, the
biggest tent is the Hofbräu-Festhalle, which holds 10,000).
From 1914 to 1918, World War I prevented the celebration of Oktoberfest. In 1919
and 1920, the two years after the war, Munich celebrated only an "Autumn Fest."
In 1923 and 1924, the Oktoberfest was not held due to inflation.
In 1933, the Bavarian white and blue flag was replaced with the standard
swastika flag. From 1939 to 1945, due to World War II, no Oktoberfest took
place. From 1946 to 1948, after the war, Munich once again celebrated only the
"Autumn Fest." The sale of proper Oktoberfest beer was not permitted; the guests
had to make do with beer that had an alcohol content under 2%.
Since its beginnings the Oktoberfest has thus been cancelled 24 times due to
war, disease and other emergencies.
Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening: A twelve gun salute
and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 by the incumbent
Mayor of Munich with the cry "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the
Austro-Bavarian language) opens the Oktoberfest. The Mayor then gives the first
beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. The first mayor to tap
the keg was Thomas Wimmer.
By 1960, the Oktoberfest had turned into an enormous world-famous festival.
After this foreigners began to picture Germans as wearing the Sennerhut,
Lederhosen, and the girls in Dirndl. Horse races ended in 1960.
There are many problems every year with young people, who overestimate their
ability to handle large amounts of alcohol. Many pass out due to drunkenness.
These especially drunk patrons are often called "Bierleichen" (German for "beer
corpses"). They are brought by staff to a medical tent where drunks as well as
sick people are treated.
To keep the Oktoberfest, and especially the beer tents, friendly for older
people and families, the concept of the "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed in
2005. Until 6:00 PM, the tents only play quiet music, for example traditional
wind music. Only after that will Schlager and pop music be played, which has led
to more violence in earlier years. The music played in the afternoon is limited
to 85 decibels. With these measures, the organizers of the Oktoberfest hope to
curb the over-the-top party mentality and preserve the traditional beer tent
Since 2005 the last traveling Enterprise ride of Germany - called Mondlift - is
back on the Oktoberfest.
Starting in 2008, a new Bavarian law banning smoking in all enclosed spaces that
are open to the public will be in place at the Oktoberfest. This will mean a
complete smoking ban inside the tents. However, after heavy losses in the 2008
local elections, the state's ruling party wants to grant special exemptions to
beer tents and small pubs. In 2008, the organisers used a special exemption in
2008 for temporary structures so smoking was permitted in the tents although the
sale of tobacco was not. This policy was extended to the 2009 event. Thanks to
Wikipedia for the info.