Oktoberfest—the famed festival that originated in Munich draws millions of visitors each year who, in turn, drink more than six million liters of German beer.
The celebration is clearly famous for alcohol consumption—it’s even made it to the silver screen—but there’s a lot more to Oktoberfest than drinking too much beer. The festival is full of history, culture, great food and entertainment—it draws people from around the world. But more than that each fall this massive folk festival is imitated in cities around the world.
Whether you’re thinking of attending the festival in Munich, or planning on finding one closer to home, there are a few things you should know. For tips on everything from etiquette to food selection, three experienced Oktoberfest revelers share their inside information.
What is Oktoberfest?
It’s a huge annual folk festival that originated in Munch, but has since inspired smaller versions that take place in cities around the globe. The festival is still a Munich tradition that takes place from late September to early October. “Think of Oktoberfest as your local county fair taken to a higher level with sophisticated tents and stalls instead of pop-up tents and 4-H exhibits,” said Terry Seal, the president and founder of Corkscrew Consulting NYC, who currently lives in Munich and frequents the festival. “While many come just for the beer, there is far more to do and see at Oktoberfest than just drinking beer.”
The festival started as a celebration of the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. They married on October 12, 1810 and citizens were invited to celebrate the royal union on the fields in front of the city gates. Those fields were named Theresienwiese (Theresa's fields), after the princess and locals have since shortened the name to Wiesn, which is how they often refer to Oktoberfest. The festival was celebrated again in 1811 and became a tradition.