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Raise a Stein to Germany’s Most Popular Celebration…Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest, or “Wiesn,” as it is traditionally called by locals, is a festival that draws over 6 million people to Munich, Germany each year to enjoy traditions, beer tents, rides, parades, and delicious foods that highlight German culture.

Winni Wanderer | Raise a Stein to Germany’s Most Popular Celebration…Oktoberfest

Brief History of Oktoberfest

Held for a two-week period from mid-September to the first Sunday in October, Oktoberfest dates back over 200 years. This year’s festival is the 188th annual celebration. If those numbers don’t seem to make sense, here’s why – Oktoberfest has been canceled 26 times throughout the years due to World War I and World War II, cholera outbreaks, and the COVID pandemic. Originating on October 12, 1810 to celebrate the wedding of the crown Prince of Bavaria (who became King Louis I), the festival later incorporated a state agricultural fair before it eventually grew to the enormous celebration that it is now.

Since 1950, Oktoberfest has opened the same way. Festivities begin as the mayor of Munich taps the first keg and a resounding “O’zapft is!!” (it’s tapped) can be heard from the crowd, signaling the official start of the two-week celebration. To conclude the event, the winners of various shooting competitions throughout the festival have the honor of giving a gun salute at the base of the massive Bavaria statue (“Lady Bavaria”) while musicians play the Bavarian anthem.

Winni Wanderer | Oktoberfest Germany

Events


The Parade of the Oktoberfest Landlords

The tapping of the first keg may be the official start of Oktoberfest, but the parade of landlords, which transports the beer to Theresiewiese, is just as important. Beautifully decorated carriages and beer wagons led by the city mascot – ‘Münchner Kindl’ or child of Munich – accompany over 1,000 participants with onlookers cheering along the way.

There are additional parades during the festival that celebrate the German culture with costumed dancers, hunters, and artisans.

Children & Family Days

Oktoberfest has days throughout the two weeks that are dedicated to children and families. Family fun activities include arts and crafts, such as weaving placemats and making jewelry; making pretzels, which is one of the staple foods at the festival; and visiting the “Oide Wiesn” historical section to experience nostalgic rides and other activities.

Winni Wanderer | Oktoberfest Germany

Beer & Food

It is a given that beer abounds at Oktoberfest. Unknown to many, however, is that Oktoberfest is regulated by a 500-year-old purity rule, the German Reinheitsgebot, which limits German beer makers to just 4 ingredients: malt, hops, yeast, and water. There are some exceptions made regionally, but it is a rule that is adhered to with pride from participating beer makers. About 2 million gallons of beer will be served at Oktoberfest, which is just a drop in the keg of the over 400 million gallons Germany exports worldwide each year!

Just as central to the celebration as the beer, the food is varied with traditional fare including (but not limited to) Bavarian cheese, Swabian pickles, sauerkraut, Black Forest ham, pretzels, and mustard varieties – Düsseldorf hot and Munich sweet. Another tradition is the large, heart-shaped gingerbread cookies featuring elaborate decorations and messages piped with icing, which make for a gorgeous, delectable treat!

Winni Wanderer | Oktoberfest Germany

Rides

The Wellenflug

Adorned with colorful lights, the Wellenflug is a famous swing carousel ride at Oktoberfest. Ride goers are lifted high in the air by chains and swung in a circle, spinning the passengers around in a wave like motion as the mast and top of the carousel rotate in opposite directions. It is a great way to get an aerial view of Oktoberfest but avoid it if you have a fear of heights!

Willenborg’s Ferris Wheel

Willenborg’s ferris wheel has been an iconic symbol of Oktoberfest since 1979. It is a traditional ferris wheel and fun for all ages. Holding up to 400 people at one time, it has 40 gondolas and stands over 160 feet high with spectacular views of the festival below.

Teufelsrad

This ride is very simple but probably evokes the most laughter out of any Oktoberfest ride. The Teufelsrad or “Devils Wheel” is a disc located within a wooden arena. The announcer will call a group, such as “anyone wearing a red shirt” or “all couples,” and those who fit the description can choose to participate by sitting on the disc or remain watching. The disc will then start spinning, faster and faster, while participants try to stay on it despite staff members’ attempts to interfere by knocking them with a large ball or lassoing them with ropes. The last person remaining on the disc is the winner.

There are many other rides and games such as rollercoasters, spooky tours, and booth activities for all ages to enjoy!

We hope this inspires you to plan a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany! Have you ever been? If so, tell us about it by sending an email to WinniWander@winni.com. Hearing from you will make our day!

 

By Staff Contributor

 



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